Tuesday, August 21, 2007

No. 114: Out Of Our Heads

Band: The Rolling Stones
Album: Out Of Our Heads
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Perhaps no band is as associated with a song as the Stones are with "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and the fourth U.S. Stones album has it.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: Who the hell cares about every song on "Out Of Our Heads" other than "Play With Fire," "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and "The Last Time?" Probably no one.
Best song: Come on, you know this.
Worst song: Everything other than the three mentioned songs, though "The Spider And The Fly" isn't terrible.
Is it awesome?: Nope.

Not to cross lists, but Rolling Stone (the magazine) placed "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" as the no. 2 song on its "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time." It's hard to separate the song from the band, as it basically encompasses everything that the Stones were about in the mid '1960s. The anti-establishment bent of striking down what the TV was telling him to wear. This derision turns decidedly aggressive, in Jagger telling the man on the TV that he can't be a man because of his cigarette choice. It's the voice of youthful frustration (something Jagger has said he meant to convey), thus being the attitudinal template for punk rock.

The riff itself is decidedly aggressive and probably the start of really hard rock. It easily moves up the neck of the guitar, setting the stage for, basically, 80% of what Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin did.

Rolling Stone (again, the magazine) explains it as such:

That spark in the night -- the riff that opens and defines "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" -- was the crossroads: the point at which the rickety jump and puppy love of early rock & roll became rock. The primal temper of Richards' creation, played through a Gibson Fuzz Box; the sneering dismissal in Mick Jagger's lyrics and his devouring howl in the chorus; the avenging strut of rhythm guitarist Brian Jones, bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts: They were the sound of a generation impatient to inherit the earth.

The best part of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" is the covers. Otis Redding recorded one in which he sang "Satisfashion." Britney Spears (performed and) recorded it for her "Oops!... I Did It Again" album. Bjork and PJ Harvey did a version together for British TV. Devo's done -- probably -- the second most famous version, by making the song sound wonderfully mechanical. Cat Power's version -- my favorite -- has her eschewing the chorus altogether (on the record. Not live).

Is "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" one of the best rock and roll songs? Look at its influence. Punk rock took its attitude, metal took its sound. It became a sock hop song unlike any other.


The rest of "Out Of Our Heads" stinks, save for "The Last Time" and maybe "Play With Fire." "The Last Time" will always hold a place in my heart as it was the first and last song (albeit a cover by The Who) I played as a DJ on my high school and college radio station. "Play With Fire" remains the idiotic blue collar rock that the Stones have done for years, though it is catchy.

Otherwise, it's mostly white boy blues nonsense. I appreciate that they could shine the light on that music style, but trying to ape it is hit and miss. "The Spider And The Fly" is the best of the bunch, but it's mostly forgettable.

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