This needs some serious self-reflection. I try to be as subjective as I can be, consulting my memory and pick up the songs that somehow has mean to me more than others during all these years and decades. Not that they are absolutely the best songs I think the Stones have done (that would make at least slightly different list). I put them more or less in a chronological order as I get to know/like them.
1. Paint It Black (original single)
This is a song I liked before (a) I was a Stones fan, (b) I didn't even know the band in question was the Stones (before I spotted it in one television ad for a Stones best of collection). Having heard in a radio or somewhere it just stuck into my mind. A haunting, magical, threatening melody. Wonderful cold and aggressive sounding vocal delivery. First got it from (infamous) STONE AGE collection that probably was my second Stones album after TATTOO YOU - it was a pleasent surprise, since I didn't know even the title of the song. Still the original studio version gives me shivers everytime I hear it. Beautifully produced and arranged; there is some eternal majesty and mystery in it. I never been a big fan of any of its live versions. I always feel something is lacking there - like they don't quite grasp the whole potentiality or the point of it no matter how close they try to ape the original (or the potentiality or point just is in my mind). Is it the soul and presence of Brian missing? Anyway, in masterpiece class of unique and untypical, lyrical sounding Stones songs, I think only "Gimme Shelter" and "Sympathy For The Devil" belong to the same category.
2. Start Me Up (TATTOO YOU)
Well, this song is the very reason I became a fan. Can there be any more merit?
Hooked by the very moment I saw it in the form of video in tele. The music, the guys... Off to store to buy TATTOO YOU and the rest is history. Even though in its brutal simplicity - and due to over-play - it sometimes bores me, and I don't listen at home willingly almost ever any longer, I cannot help how the song still affects me when I randonly hear it (a radio, sports event standard still) - always reminds me why I love this band. It is a kind of Stones For Dummies (like me) - the classic Stones sound in a textbook form; it represents the skeleton of more ambitious and genius classics of "Honky Tonk Women", "Brown Sugar" and "Satisfaction" in one simple package. What the Stones truely and naked are all about. No any band can do such miracles from such small elements. Yeah, it is more of a sound than a song.
3. Rocks Off (EXILE ON MAIN STREET)
I am more than serious when I claim that this is the best rock and roll
song studio recording ever. Not that it sets the perfect party mood for EXILE, but it tells all that is needed what the spirit and sound (noise) of rock and roll is all about. Just in one song. Not the greatest song an sich or by any of its individual parts, but put together it is more than perfect. It's bloody all there (even though I still doesn't quite recognize from the noise what all there is really going on...). From the raunchy intro riff by Keith accompanied by Mick's lazy "oh yeah" to the orgastic cacophony of the screaming chorus, Jag's more than inspired, edgy, sexy, arrogant vocal delivery throughout, and all that backed by the groove of Charlie, Bill, Nicky and Keith, the horns, to Taylor's outro solo.... blues rock, 50's rock and roll, country feel, 70's decadence... sex, sex, sex (and drugs)! Like I said, put that into school books if only one example is needed to explain rock and roll (with the sticker 'For Adult Minds Only'). And only the mighty Stones - and also them only in the peak of their powers - could have done it. Loved it by first listening and still today this is the song everytime I hear it puts my spirits up and energy-level high. Pure elixir of life.
4. Midnight Rambler (LIVE, BRUSSELS AFFAIR)
This is the best recorded live performance by any rock act ever. A haunting, transcendental performance - no guitar-driven blues-based rock music can be played any better. They always deliver the song convincingly, and there are incredible individual performances of it, but this is THE crown jewel. Still recall the first listening. I was almost not to believe my ears - can they really be that good! (I knew and loved the song from LET IT BLEED and YA-YA'S but this surpassed everything)! It has been the criterion of brilliance in rock music for me ever since. I very rarely listen it nowadays, since it asks so much from the listener as well, and I am not getting any younger... Riffmaster Keith's best hour as a live guitarist, and Taylor's not bad either, to put it mildly, Jagger's vocal performance is out of this world - how his voice stands it?... I am running out of words... (it is the old bootleg version - first BEDSPRING SYMPOHNY, then BRUSSELS AFFAIR DELUXE EDITION or what it was called - that is my main reference. The official version is awesome as well, but I prefer the dynamism of old mixes with more front, fatter guitars, especially by Taylor).
5. Winter (GOATS HEAD SOUP)
Now, this is a Stones song I probably listen nowadays - last ten years or so - more than any of their songs individually (especially during wintertime). I could say that it has 'grown on me', to use the old, over-used slogan, but that's not quite true since I did like it initially as well. But as I got more older the song seems to affect me more and more. It expresses such emotions and sentiments that no any other Stones do. They almost sound like mature...
The heart of it is the co-work of of Two Micks. Jagger's nuance-rich delivery is one of his strongest ever (and I cannot think any other singing like that, although there is some Van Morrison-influence), and Taylor's lyrical guitar part might be the best one he - or any guitarist - ever has done. Both speak straight to my soul. They both use such a simple template - it really isn't that much of a song to begin with - with such a finesse and mastery that only the best musicians can do.
Huh, that was big task. But nice to do! Thank you!
Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 2021-02-16 13:28 by Doxa.