"It's Only Rock 'n' Roll", the Rolling Stones' 12th studio album, was recorded during two sessions at Musicland Studios, Munich (November, 1973 and January, 1974), while overdubbing and mixing sessions took place at Mick Jagger's Stargroves home (April 10-15, 1974, with the Rolling Stones Mobile) and Island Recording Studios, London (May 20-25, 1974). The album was released in October 1974. Author James Hector puts the record in some fine perspective:
If "Goat's Head Soup" was an overly-sophisticated response to the DIY production on "Exile On Main St.", then this time round, the Rolling Stones chose to take destiny in their own hands. Ending their fruitful, five-year relationship with producer Jimmy Miller, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards restyled themselves the Glimmer Twins. The results may have banished the memories of the subdued "Soup" album, but it's difficult to make a case for "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll" as the true inheritor to "Exile".
With the album, the Stones opted for the star-studded epic, tailored towards easy mass consumption and with the simplest of story-lines: "It's only rock 'n' roll, but I like it". Well, nice to see you, to see you nice, and all that, but the album marked the band's decisive entry into a comfortable living as rock's elder statesmen. From this point on, their youth cultural importance vanished, and there would be few musical surprises in the future.
Ian Stewart played piano on three tracks: the album's title track, 'Dance Little Sister', and 'Short And Curlies', a left-over from the "Goat's Head Soup" sessions, and clearly an album filler. Other members of the keyboard
department on "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll" were familiar names: Nicky Hopkins
(piano on five tracks) and
Billy Preston (clavinet and/or piano on three tracks).
Adapted from the following source: James Hector, The Complete Guide To The Music Of The Rolling Stones, Omnibus Press, 1995.
Suggested further reading:
Steve Appleford, The Rolling Stones - The Stories Behind The Biggest Songs, Carlton Books Limited, 2010.
Andrew Mueller, It's Only Rock 'n' Roll, The Ultimate Music Guide (from the makers of Uncut)