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Pedal To The Metal,
This review is from: The Rolling Stones, Now! (Audio CD)
Originally released in February of 1965 (between May 1964 and November 1965 the Stones were releasing albums at 4-5 month intervals,..crazy by today's standards!) "Now!" captures the pure essence of The Rolling Stones. This would be the last Stones album comprised soley (should be souly) of Blues, Country & Western, Rhythm & Blues, and Soul music.
"Now!" opens with Solomon Burke number "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" (which used to be the opener for many of their live shows) which showcases the band's ability to grab you by the throat and give you some good old time religion in the church that R & B built! I'm not quite sure the Stones ever sounded more rootsy than they do on this record, as is evidenced by "Down Home Girl". Singing lyrics like "And everytime I kiss you girl it tastes like pork and beans" could Jagger be anymore convincing in the role of the "Southern Valentno"? If Mick doesn't get you on this song than surely the inertwined guitars of Brian Jones on slide and Keith Richards on standard will. Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me" is up next and we discover that we've been plucked off the farm and depostied in to a high speed chase on the New Jersey Turnpike. The mastery the Stones (and Keith especially) have when it comes to Chuck's music is astounding as they not only capture the sound, but they capture Berry's swagger as well. "Heart Of Stone" is next and is the strongest Jagger/Richards composition to that point. This is a song full of danger and angst that easily could been sung by Johnny Cash. "Heart Of Stone" reached #19 on the charts in the USA, not bad as you could hardly call it a love song. "What A Shame" has a Muddy Waters meets Jimmy Reed feel about and features some fine slide work by Brian. Closing out side 1 is the Bo Diddley song "Mona (I Need You Baby)" and although Jagger scores with another incrediible vocal performance, the focus here is on Brian Jones. "Now!" is the closest we will ever come to hearing a Brian Jones solo record. This was the music he loved and lived for and I have never heard anyone play Bo Diddley better than Brian Jones.
Side 2 starts with another Chuck Berry (although not written by C.B.) song "Down The Road Apiece" where "the drummer man is a cat they call Charlie My Boy" and "Mama's cookin' chicken fried in bacon grease". Check out Keith's searing Chuck Berry licks and Ian Stewart's spot on boogie woogie piano in a song that takes us right back down to the "Southland" where "There's a place you really get your kicks/It's open every night about 12 to 6". "Off The Hook" is a jaunty little R&B tune with an infectious hook (no pun), by no means a heavyweight, but then again it is nice to have a "breather" once in a while. The Stones give the "star treatment" to the Otis Redding classic "Pain In My Heart'. The sheer drama and emotion that is packed into to this song leaves the listener feeling spent upon its' completion. There is almost a three way tug-of-war taking place between Jagger's molten vocals, Brian and Keith's guitar sword play, and Charlie and Bill's sledgehammer rhythm section. "Oh Baby (We?ve Got A Good Thing Goin')" has a Nashville meets Chuck Berry groove that forces you to crack open the case and get out your air guitar. Back to Brian Jones now in full glory on "Little Red Rooster", Duane Allman caused quite a stir when he started playing slide guitar in 1967, well here's Brian taking Duane to school on a song that was recorded in early November 1964. The juggernaut ends with the Jagger/Richards tune entitled "Surprise, Surprise", again no heavyweight here, just a tight upbeat R&B tune with some fun staccato drum beats from Mr. Watts.
Note: There were two versions of "Everybody Needs'.. recorded, one that is universally considered the "bad one" which appeared on the original US release of the record, and the "good one" which appeared on the UK version. ABKCO wisely went with the "good one" on the CD reissue.
Recording Notes: "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love", "Down Home Girl", "Heart Of Stone", "Pain In My Heart", & "Oh Baby (We Got A Good Thing Goin')" were recorded 10/27/64 at RCA Studios in Hollywood. "You Can't Catch Me", "Mona (I Need You Baby)", "Off The Hook", & "Surprise, Surprise" were recorded 5/64 at Regent, IBC, London. "Down The Road Apiece" was recorded 6/10-11/64 at Chess Studios in Chicago. "What A Shame" & "Little Red Rooster" were recorded 11/5-6,8/64 at Chess Studios in Chicago.