Saturday, June 8, 2013

Short And Curlies (2)

On "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll", Ian Stewart played piano on three tracks: the album's title track, 'Dance Little Sister', and 'Short And Curlies'. The latter song (see March, 2013 for an earlier blog entry) is a nice illustration of Stu's position in and around the Rolling Stones. Author Steve Appleford: "Ian Stewart was no roadie. He was the Stones' ambassador, their foul-mouthed stage manager, their closest comrade, their boogie-woogie conscience, a rock and roll gentleman and a commited golfer.

But mainly he was a piano player. And 'Short And Curlies' was perfectly tailored to his purist rhythm and blues sensibility. "He loved the band, hated what they were doing a load of the time and moaned about it", remembers engineer George Chkiantz. "But he was devoted to the band, and stuck with them through thick and thin". He had never expressed any lasting bitterness at being ejected from the early Rolling Stones. And maybe it was for the best, since Stu's boogie-woogie sensibility might have clashed with some of the wilder musical turns explored by the Stones over the years.

By standing outside the band, Stu could play only what he liked, and leave the rest to Nicky Hopkins. "He wasn't overly convinced by Nicky Hopkins' playing", Chkiantz says with a laugh. "He said, 'Do you really like that sort of thing?'. Stu was one of the nicest guys. Wonderful character. I'm sure that if Stu wanted to play on something he had a way of making it known".

On 'Short And Curlies', Stu's piano is right out front, not buried in the mix, and it rolls with a boys-will-be-boys impishness. It's joined by the dual guitars of Richards and Taylor as Jagger sings of a man comically under the thumb of a woman. She's spent his money, crashed his car, and yet he can't (or won't) go away. "She's got you by the balls!". Naughty, haughty, sexist boogie-woogie heaven".

Adapted from the following source: Steve Appleford, The Rolling Stones - The Stories Behind The Biggest Songs, Carlton Books, 2010.

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