Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gather No Moss

Between June of 1963 and February of 1964 The Rolling Stones released three singles, one EP, and a couple other tracks on a compilation. All in the UK, and all before the release of their first LP. All but two those songs were covers. The trajectory of their career couldn't yet have been imagined. Firstly, they wanted to be the the best blues band in London (they were), and by the time they started recording, they wanted to share their love of American Blues, Soul, and R&B with a larger audience (which they did). The Stones weren't the only band in London doing this, but they were the best. They eventually wrote songs of their own (as urged by their manager Andrew Loog Oldham) but for the most part, their early records, up until 1966's Aftermath are heavily comprised of covers of black American music.

So, as the story goes, nearly fifty years ago, in late 1961 on the outskirts of London in Dartford, Mick and Keith, old boyhood friends reunite at a train station. Mick is carrying a copy of Chuck Berry's Rockin' at the Hops and The Best of Muddy Waters. BINGO! The alliance is born. in the coming months they start playing, and find Brian Jones, who is masquerading around town as a slide-guitar playing Elmo Lewis. Later they add Stu, Bill and his Amp, and Charlie.

It's no accident that their first single would be a Chuck Berry song on one side and Muddy Waters on the flip, two artists they would re-visit frequently, and soon enough meet at Chess Studios in Chicago. Their second single "I Wanna Be Your Man" is a song they got from Lennon and McCartney, when Oldham invited them to the studio. It was a something that McCartney considered a throwaway, and the Stones took it gladly. I've never been one to choose between the Beatles and the Stones, but if you were comparing the their versions of this particular song, which the Beatles eventually recorded in their next sessions, the Rolling Stones win this one hands down. The b-side, "Stoned" was their first original 'composition,' - basically a blues jam - and was banned in the U.S. for it's suggestive lyrics. Their third single, "Fortune Teller," was shelved and eventually appeared on a UK compilation. Next, an EP of more great American R&B, and a single of a Bo Diddelyized version of Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away," backed by "Little by Little," a Stones original based on a Jimmy Reed riff - both recorded for the first LP which was soon coming. At that session, were Phil Spector and Gene Pitney, who contributed some maracas and piano respectively, and Spector copped a partial songwriting credit for "Little by Little."

(to be continued)


"Come On" mp3
by Chuck Berry, 1961.
available on The Great 28

"I Want To Be Loved" mp3
by Muddy Waters, 1955.
available on Anthology: 1947-1972


"I Wanna Be Your Man" mp3
by The Beatles, 1963.
available on With the Beatles (Mono)

"Stoned" mp3
by The Rolling Stones, 1963.
available on Singles Collection: The London Years


"You Better Move On" mp3
by Arthur Alexander, 1961.
available on The Greatest

"Poison Ivy" mp3
by The Coasters, 1959.
available on Baby That Is Rock 'n' Roll

"Bye Bye Johnny" mp3
by Chuck Berry, 1960.
available on The Great 28

"Money (That's What I Want)" mp3
by Barrett Stong, 1959.
available on Collection


"Fortune Teller" mp3
by Benny Spellman, 1962.
available on Fortune Teller

"Poison Ivy" mp3
by The Rolling Stones, 1963.
available on More Hot Rocks: Big Hits & Fazed Cookies


"Not Fade Away" mp3
by The Crickets, 1957.
available on Buddy Holly Gold

"Little by Little" mp3
by The Rolling Stones, 1964.
available on Singles Collection: The London Years



"Andrew's Blues" mp3
by the Rolling Stones (and others), 1964.

"Mr. Spector and Mr. Pitney Came Too" mp3
by the Rolling Stones, 1964.

1 comment:

DaveO said...

Great post.. thanks! Love the early Stones stuff. (I was just putting together a compilation for a friend of originals of tunes covered by the Stones and you've posted a couple that I was missing!)