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Author Topic: Microscope: Aftermath (The Rolling Stones)  (Read 844 times)

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Microscope: Aftermath (The Rolling Stones)
« on: August 15, 2016, 12:54:43 AM »

My second review of Stones albums is the American version of Aftermath, released in June 1966. Here the most experimental period of the band began, sometimes being wild Beatles imitators. In fact, this album is quite beatlesque, including some obvious influences from Rubber Soul. Let's paint it black over white...

Paint It Black. One of the most famous and certainly one of the best songs by the Stones. Brian Jones is on sitar, obviously being influenced by the then fresh "Norwegian Wood"; but I guess it must have been interesting to listen to the exotic instrument in a faster rock/pop number at that time. I love the percussion and Mick Jagger's angry vocals. The lyrics seem to be a self-conscious shout of depression, as an effort to escape from darkness by the recognition of the spiritual breakdown. This song is not present in the UK version of the album.

Stupid Girl. A funny pop song that walks the line between critique of vanity and intolerant misogyny. Musically speaking, I like the break given by the bridge.

Lady Jane. Another important track, a well known ballad. It sounds like a more refined continuation of the idea installed by the earlier "Play With Fire". The harpsichord provides additional embellishment. The instrumental middle reminds me to the Beatles' "Girl" because of that baroque feeling. With regard to the lyrics, it's curious that this sweet love song was placed just between two nasty misogynist themes.

Under My Thumb. This has become a popular song even though the Stones haven't released it as a single in UK or US. Indeed, the track is infectious and entertaining. The lyrics sound like a revenge to a girl who had despised the singer in the past. Bill Wyman is on fuzz bass, yet another Beatles influence.

Doncha Bother Me. No, this is not a cover of George's "Don't Bother Me". This sounds like an average bluesy song of earlier Stones. It's not so bad but seems to be a dissonant note in the album.

Think. I really like this beatlesque number. It features a fuzzed guitar, providing good touches. Perhaps the guitar solo could have said something more.

Flight 505. I hear a little reprise of the "Satisfaction" riff at the end of the piano intro. Not one of my favorite songs, I find it quite monotonous. The narrated story is tragically funny though.

High And Dry. A second basic blues-like song. However, I tend to like it more than "Doncha Bother Me", maybe because it sounds more genuine to my ears.

It's Not Easy. A pretty good track, made with similar ingredients as used in "Think". Those answering vocals singing the song title make me use the word "beatlesque" again.

I Am Waiting. In my opinion this is the hidden gem of the album. Words and music irradiate mysticism. I especially love the changes of tempo, with slow verses and faster refrain. Great song.

Going Home. This track is famous for being one of the first rock songs lasting more than 10 min. Bob Dylan had already done that and later bands like Love and the Doors would do similar attempts. The song itself is not so interesting though, it's basically a pseudo-blues jam. But at that time it was a novel thing.

The UK version of the album contains other 4 tracks, including a couple of important ones ("Mother's Little Helper"; "Out Of Time"); but I still prefer the US version because I think "Paint It Black" is better than all those songs together.

Aftermath is not as brilliant as Pet Sounds nor as revolutionary as Revolver, but it's certainly among the best rock records from 1966.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2016, 01:19:24 AM by Hombre_de_ningun_lugar »
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