by Mott the Dog
***** 5 Stars Rating
For all the glory of a number one hit single, and a
worldwide hit album in “Beggars Banquet”, the Rolling Stones had to
face reality as a member of the band, Brian Jones, was finished. He still
had the image. Elfin features (somewhat bloated now by habitual excess)
and trademark bouffant blond haircut were still in place, but his musical
abilities had completely deserted him, as had his faculties to uphold
himself as a useful member of the entourage. At this point it was
announced that Brian Jones would be leaving the band to explore different
musical avenues. Tragically, within a month he was found drowned in his
own swimming pool after a late night party.
Stones rallied. Plunging into the studio to record a new album and single,
plus the search was on for a new guitarist to compete for the spotlight
with the one and only Keith Richards. The list of people who tried out for
the job or were rumored to have auditioned is endless. To name a few: Ray
Major, Luther Grosonor, Mick Ronson, Rory Gallagher, Harrey Mandel, Chris
Spedding, Peter Frampton, Leslie West (what would that have done for the
image of the Stones? or conversely 30 stone men across the world?), Bobby
Tench, Jeff Beck (who was rumored to have gotten the job, but turned it
down saying that just playing three chords a night would of bored him!
Yeah, but, come on Jeff, think of the bank account), and the one I find
the hardest to believe was our old mate Ritchie Blackmore. Now, that does
boggle the old noodle.
Finally it was poor old John Mayall and the
Bluesbreakers that suffered again as their line-up was ransacked for their
baby faced but brilliant lead guitarist Mick Taylor.
So it was against this surreal backdrop that Mick
Taylor was announced as the new Stone. He made his debut on stage at a
free festival in London’s Hyde Park on Saturday 5th
July 1969 in front of 300,000 people. Must have been quite a wrench from
playing to 200 people at the Half Moon in Putney a month before. But the
most important thing was that the greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll band in the
world were up and running again.
If they could just weather the negative media, they
knew they had the world at their feet now. It was just like a prize
fighter coming out of his corner at the beginning of a new round having
taken a battering, but with his mind clear and his hands full of dynamite.
First plan of attack was in July the release of the single “Honky Tonk
Women”, their first worldwide number one since “Paint It Black” in
April 1966 (Jumpin’ Jack Flash got to number three in the States).
“Honky Tonk Women” summed up everything that the
Stones and the sixties were about. How can you resist Jagger as he’s
boasting of being “Dragged upstairs by some Memphis Queen as she tried
to take him for a ride …”? Now, in 1969 this was really pushing the
barriers of sensibility. In England it’s just as likely that dear old
Auntie B.B.C. hadn’t got a clue what Mick and the boys were on about
Put this together with perhaps one of the most famous
intros in rock music. Charlie Watts on bass drum and cowbell, followed by
Keith’s low down dirty guitar riff, which leads into the whole band
lolloping in, then Mick tells his story, which is leading into a chorus
that anybody can singalong too, and a guitar solo that only Keith Richards
could play. Pure magic. Sounding as vibrant today as it did then - thirty
three years ago. Rock ‘n’ Roll doesn’t get any better than this.
Almost every band in the world has covered this song
including some of the most famous (Mott the Hoople, Humble Pie, Elton
John) but nobody can do it like the Stones.
At this stage Mick Jagger flew off to Australia to film
his first starring role in the movies. He was dreadfully miscast as Ned
Kelly. But the band re-grouped in November for rehearsals for the all
important tour of America and the release of “Let It Bleed”.
Mick Jagger – Vocals
Keith Richards – Guitar
Bill Wyman – Bass
Charlie Watts - Drums