Life at 33 1/3: The album they didn’t know they made

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The Rolling Stones: Flowers (London)

The Beatles were not alone struggling with a headstrong American record label.  The Rolling Stones ‘ U.S. catalog between 1964 and 1967 is remarkably different from the British too.  

In the summer of ‘67 it was time for a potboiler, London Records thought, a real goodie for the beautiful people.  As “Sgt. Pepper” was the coolest album on the planet, they figured it would be a clever move to turn the Stones into fashionable flower children too.  They didn’t actually have any tunes to back it up with, but that didn’t matter as long as they created a record sleeve that would slide nicely into the summer of love.  Enter “Flowers”, the album The Rolling Stones didn’t even know they made.

London did to the Stones what Capitol did to the Beatles, they removed tracks from the British albums and saved them up with some singles and stuff until they had enough to fill an extra album.  In the spring of ’67 they went through their files and found four tracks they had removed from the British version of “Aftermath” about a year earlier.  Likewise they had kept off two tracks from its sequel “Between The Buttons” (replacing them with the recent single, “Let’s Spend The Night Together” / “Ruby Tuesday”).  Already half way there.  Then there was “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow “ / “Who’s Driving Your Plane”, a hit-single the previous autumn and not yet released on any LP .

That would be eight songs, not enough for a full album of course, but close.  So they put some pressure on Decca, their British record company, and maybe on their manager Andrew Loog Oldham, who normally was very co-operative, and who did have a handful of Stones-demos in his possession.  And before you’d know it, London managed to secure the rights to release three nuggets from the “Aftermath”-era: “Ride On Baby” (a demo for Chris Farlowe ), “Sittin ‘On A Fence” (a demo for Twice As Much ) and a rather unimaginative cover version of the Temptations-chestnut “My Girl” (which the Stones wisely had discarded).

London now had 11 tracks available.  Or rather 10 as I am quite sure they had forgotten all about “Who’s Driving Your Plane”, the B-side of “Have You Seen Your Mother…”. It didn’t make it to “Flowers”, and I can’t think of any reason why – except ignorance or short memory span.  Anyway 10 tracks was not enough, an American album should contain 11 or 12 tracks.  So the London-guys started thinking hard.  One of them came up with the brilliant solution: “Hey! Didn’t they have this huge double-sided hit this winter?  Let’s put that on!”  And so they did, and “Flowers” was complete.

“Let’s Spend The Night Together” and “Ruby Tuesday” were of course also included on “Between The Buttons”, released only 4 months earlier, but if anyone remembered they kept their mouths shut.  Someone also mixed up one of the “Aftermath” tracks as “What To Do” (not on the US version) were by mistake replaced by “Lady Jane” (which was on the US version).  Or was it a mistake?  You never knew with these sloppy guys.

As always with these American hybrids they provide an interesting listening experience: songs you know well in a different order.  The two demos and “My Girl”, which had never been released anywhere in the world before, also served as an irresistible bait for Stones fans.  The version of “Out Of Time” was a shorter edit than the one found on the British “Aftermath”, so that was collectable too.  “Flowers” became a must have-album, and was even pressed by Decca in England for the European marked.

The contents have nothing at all to do with the ‘Summer of Love’, but it plays well enough, I’ll give it that.  But why “Who’s Driving Your Plane” (and “What To Do”) was kept out of this “Aftermath, part 2” is still beyond me.  They’ve had 47 years on them to correct it as it’s been constantly re-released both on vinyl and CD.

By the way, the Stones did get to make a real psychedelic album, “Their Satanic Majesties Request”, released just before Christmas in 1967.  A strangely fascinating trip that doesn’t sit well with most Stones-fans.  I like it.  And when I told Keith Richards about 20 years ago, he agreed.  So there!

 

Released: June 26, 1967

Produced by: Andrew Loog Oldham

(All songs by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, except where noted)

 

Side One

1. “Ruby Tuesday” – 3:17 (A January 1967 single release also featured on the American edition of Between the Buttons)

2. “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?” – 2:34 (A September 1966 single release)

3. “Let’s Spend the Night Together” – 3:36 (A January 1967 single release also featured on the American edition of Between the Buttons)

4. “Lady Jane” – 3:08 (Also featured on Aftermath in 1966, as well as the B-side of the U.S.-only “Mother’s Little Helper” single in July 1966)

5. “Out of Time” – 3:41 (An abridged alternate mix of the version originally released on the British edition of Aftermath in 1966)

6. “My Girl” (Smokey Robinson/Ronald White) – 2:38 (Previously unreleased; recorded in May 1965, with strings added in fall 1966)

Side Two

1. “Backstreet Girl” – 3:26 (Originally released on the British edition of Between the Buttons)

2. “Please Go Home” – 3:17 (Originally released on the British edition of Between the Buttons)

3. “Mother’s Little Helper” – 2:46 (Originally released on the British edition of Aftermath; first released in the U.S. as a single in July 1966)

4. “Take It or Leave It” – 2:46 (Originally released on the British edition of Aftermath)

5. “Ride On, Baby” – 2:52 (Previously unreleased; recorded during the 1965 sessions for Aftermath)

6. “Sittin’ on a Fence” – 3:03 (Previously unreleased; recorded during the 1965 sessions for Aftermath)

 

Personnel:

Mick Jagger – Lead vocals, percussion, backing vocals

Keith Richards – Guitars, backing vocals, Double bass on (“Ruby Tuesday”), Bass guitar on (“Let’s Spend the Night Together”)

Brian Jones – Guitars, keyboards, bass guitar, koto on (“Take It or Leave It”) and (“Ride On, Baby”), Dulcimer on (“Lady Jane”), recorder on (“Ruby Tuesday]])

Bill Wyman – Bass guitar, backing vocals, Electronic organ, Double bass on (“Ruby Tuesday”), percussion

Charlie Watts – Drums, Percussion