Monday, July 9, 2012

2120 South Michigan Avenue


After the Stones released their first LP, they set out for the US in the summer in 1964. They didn't exactly conquer America. On the heels of the Beatles success here before them, they arrived with no big hit record to promote and to less fanfare than they were used to back home in the UK. The first leg of their tour was marked by poor attendance and a US Television debut on the Hollywood Palace in which they were ridiculed by host Dean Martin.

Still, remarkable things were happening. At the San Antonio State Fair, on a bill they shared with George Jones, Keith would meet his future running buddy and saxophonist Bobby Keys, born on the exact same as day as him. In New York, Keith meets and starts a romance with Ronnie Spector. The Stones also get their first taste of American radio stations where they find some of the material that they set out to record in the coming months. They played to enthusiastic, yet small crowds and before the summer of '64 was through, they would have their first #1 record in the UK with a cover of The Valentinos "It's All Over Now." Recorded on the shores of Lake Michigan at Chess Studios, in the same room that produced the recordings of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Howlin' Wolf, and Muddy Waters that had inspired them to hone their chops in London and to become The Rolling Stones. These recordings, along with a few batches of tracks cut in London and then in Los Angeles with Jack Nitzsche later that year, comprise all of the material for their next few singles, EPs, and Rolling Stones No.2 (UK) 12x5 (US) and the remaining tracks to fill out their third US LP Rolling Stones Now!  For the Stones to find themselves recording at Chess at this early stage in their career was by all accounts a dream come true, and as Keith describes in his autobiography the feeling that they "had died and gone to heaven."

The songwriting team of Jagger-Richards had yet to blossom into the prolific writers they would become, and still relying heavily on covers, they delved into material from some of their usual sources (Howlin' Wolf and Chuck Berry) as well as interpretations of songs by The Drifters, Irma Thomas, Barbara Lynn, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. Below are the tracks that the Stones used as their source material, as well as a handful of their own compositions that rounds out the watershed year of 1964 and on into early 1965.

to be continued...

by the Valentinos, 1964.
available on Do It Right

by The Rolling Stones, 1964.
available on 12 X 5

by Solomon Burke, 1963.
available on Very Best of Solomon Burke

The Stones most likely learned "If You Need Me" from the Solomon Burke version, which was a hit and the flip side of his version of Gene Allison's "You Can Make It If You Try" which they had previously recorded in England. The original by Wilson Pickett, was presented to Jerry Wexler at Atlantic as a demo when Pickett was trying to get a deal with them. Much to Pickett's chagrin, Atlantic gave the song to Burke to record, and eventually signed Pickett in 1964.
by Wilson Pickett, 1962.
available on Greatest Hits

by The Rolling Stones, 1964.
The Rolling Stones, 1964.
available on 12 X 5

"Confessin' the Blues" mp3
by Chuck Berry, 1960.
available on Rockin' at the Hops

The Stones probably learned "Confessin the Blues" from the Chuck Berry version, but theirs is played slower and not unlike the original 1941 version by Jay McShann that was the flip side of "Hootie Blues"  featuring the first ever recorded solo by Charlie Parker. Bird doesn't take a solo on "Confessin the Blues" but I include it here nonetheless, and I'd be surprised if Charlie Watts and Ian Stewart weren't already well versed in the original.

"Confessin' the Blues" mp3
by Jay McShann, 1941.
available on Hootie Blues

by Chuck Berry, 1959
available on Berry Is On Top

by Irma Thomas, 1964.
available on Time is on My Side

"Congratulations" mp3
The Rolling Stones, 1964.

The Drifters, 1964.
available on The Drifters' Golden Hits

"Grown Up Wrong" mp3
The Rolling Stones, 1964.
available on 12 X 5

 Dale Hawkins, 1958.
available on Oh! Suzy-Q the Definitive & Remastered Edition

"The Red Rooster" mp3 
by Howlin' Wolf, 1961.
avalable on Moanin in the Moonlight & Howlin Wolf

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


by Solomon Burke, 1964.
available on Very Best of Solomon Burke

In Keith Richards' autobiography 'Life,' he tells of visiting the Brill Building with Andrew Loog Oldham and looking for Jerry Lieber, whom apparently wouldn't see them. They did hear a bunch of his songs and left with this one (a Jerry Leiber-Art Butler composition) to record:

by Alvin Robinson, 1964.
available on Red Bird Story

by Chuck Berry, 1956.
available on The Great Twenty-Eight

by Chuck Berry, 1960.
available on Rockin' at the Hops

by the Will Bradley Trio with Freddie Slack, 1940.
available on Out There: Wild & Wondrous Roots Of Rock 'N' Roll Volume Two
Muddy Waters, 1947.
available on Anthology: 1947-1972

by Otis Redding, 1963.
available on Pain In My Heart

by Barbara Lynn, 1964.
available on The Jamie Singles Collection 1962-1965
by The Rolling Stones, 1964.
available on The Rolling Stones, Now!


Part One: HERE
Part Two: HERE