Saturday, 1 December 2012

Their satanic top ten

Prompted by Rol's latest top ten, I was just going to leave a comment but it would have got too long. So, here we are.

1. Midnight Rambler
This is the only one that's going to get a numerical ranking. I can remember thinking, the first few times I heard it, that it was just a bit of a jumble. Then one listen it just clicked for me and has been my favourite Stones track ever since.

Picked for the sound of it all, lyrically it has its moments ("I'm just a shoot 'em dead brain bell jangler") but really - a song from the viewpoint of a rapist?

Jumpin' Jack Flash
Proves that lyrics can be dead simple and about anything, you've just got to think of them. Often I get bored of songs and cut them short to put the next one on, but I always listen to this one right to the end for the little organ bit.  Also a candidate for best pop video ever.

Honky Tonk Women
Possibly the best intro of any of their songs.  Like a lot of my choices here it pretty much comes down to the sound of the guitar. There's a bit in David Dalton's The Rolling Stones: The First Twenty-Five Years in which Keith reveals the tunings he used for Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed. Very interesting stuff.

Parachute Woman
Very short, a sort of concentrated version of Midnight Rambler in a way (for if you're in a hurry). Most of the same ingredients: lolloping drumbeat, slide guitar, harmonica. I dunno what a parachute woman is, one especially dropped in for Mick?  More talk of blowing.

Play With Fire
Such an immense sound. The b side to The Last Time but the better song I think. Features a harpsichord, which I'm sure I've said before is my favourite pop instrument. Is it misogynistic? I'm afraid it probably is.

For the most part I'm an orthodox Stones fan, sticking to the run of albums Beggars Banquet to Exile On Main Street and I take the view that Their Satanic Majesties Request is a bit silly. It does have three good tunes on it though and this is the best of them. Weirdly good lyrics, uses the word pinnacles.

Turd On The Run
Exuberant whooping from Exile On Main Street.  

Little Red Rooster
An early favourite. For the immaculate slide guitar and the tick of the drums. I like loads of their earlier things (Walking The Dog nearly made the list) and their big middle period hits (Ruby Tuesday, Get Off My Cloud etc.) but I've just listened most of them to death.

Under My Thumb
Except for this one. After harpsichords, marimbas may be my favourite pop instrument. Or anything that makes a chiming noise I suppose. I heard a live version of this on a documentary once, the delicate marimba riff had been replaced by a fairly crude guitar - sounded really good.

Monkey Man
More Let It Bleed era badness. For the intro, especially the bit where Keith doesn't play the guitar at about the 19 seconds mark. Excellent bassline.


  1. Live With Me? Great (Keef) bassline and dirty guitars, followed by again simple misogynistic lyrics.

  2. I listened to it twice while I was thinking up the list but worried that I was relying too heavily on Let It Bleed. That album plus Jumpin' Jack Flash would be a very good Stones top ten really. But you've got to have a bit of variety haven't you.