Rant ‘N’ Roll: Still Rolling

So, next year the Rolling Stones will celebrate a half-century of being a rock ’n’ roll band. Are there any plans? They’re being coy. But I’ll tell you this: If the dear lovable, demented genius Brian Wilson can get back with the evil Beach Boy, Mike Love, next year, as has been announced, then Mick can make up with Keith over his literary transgressions in Life to properly christen the occasion with a tour.

I read Life this year and found it so riveting that I’d purposely read a page, then stop and ponder the deliciousness of it all before continuing. And I didn’t think Keith was that bad to Mick. Mick comes off much worse in Bill German’s Under Their Thumb. Then again, how’d you like to be in a band with a junkie? Keith comes off as totally pathetic in Robert Greenfield’s endlessly fascinating Exile On Main Street: A Season In Hell With The Rolling Stones. (You should see how Bill Wyman sounds in Pattie Boyd Harrison’s Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton And Me as the 40-something Stones bassist who hides in her house worried about his 14-year old girlfriend.)

I just love rock memoirs.

These thoughts were inspired by the re-release of the Stones’ Some Girls (Universal Republic), originally released in 1978. I’d almost forgotten how great this album is, what with “When The Whip Comes Down,” “Miss You,” “Respectable,” “Shattered,” “Beast Of Burden” and their cover version of The Temptations’ 1971 “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me).” But that’s not the news here.

The second disc is one the best damn Stones albums I never heard and stands up to anything they’ve ever done. Now true, I’m still in the shock of recognition here as I write, but I can’t stop playing it. Sure, eventually I’ll come back to senses. All my friends and I know that Exile On Main Street (1972), Let It Bleed (1969), Begger’s Banquet (1968) and Between The Buttons (1967) are, in that order, the four greatest Stones albums. But still…

When Jagger sings “I tried to take it easy and put my dick back on a leash” in “So Young,” one of the rare discoveries the 68-year-old singer found with producer Don Was, all of the inherent danger that’s supposed to be at the heart of this music comes creeping to the fore. Sounding like blues singer John Hammond, Jr., Jagger’s vocals ring true, bluesy, lusty and with (mostly likely) the late Ian Stewart’s pumping Jerry Lee Lewis-styled piano pounding away behind him. All of a sudden, out of the blue, we have an instant Stones classic on a par with “Brown Sugar” (1971) or “Honky Tonk Woman” (1969). This after the opening gem, a super-charged rave-up called “Claudine,” which starts “Claudine’s back in jail again.” It’s the song they wrote for French hottie Claudine Longet, convicted of murdering her ski champ boyfriend, Spider Sabich, in 1976. And that’s just it. Every track’s a damn gem!

And the covers! They do the Hank Williams 1952 country classic “You Win Again” and (with John Fogerty) do Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon’s 1959 “Tallahassie Lassie,” a song I made my mom go buy for me when I was eight years old.

As if that isn’t enough, Eagle Rock Entertainment has released Some Girls: Live In Texas on Blu-Ray and DVD, a show now seen in its entirety for the first time, and it’s a revelation. The Stones had just landed in Fort Worth on the day they heard that Some Girls was number one in America. They were feeling good and the result is a 17-song barnburner complete with the ragin’ Cajun Doug Kershaw fiddling away on “Far Away Eyes” and Mick letting his fem side take over as he pouts, struts like a peacock, kisses guitarist Ron Wood and shares raggedy harmonies with Keith. I can’t remember him ever looking, sounding and performing so well! The material is everything one could hope for, what with “Let It Rock,” “All Down The Line,” “Star Star,” “Love In Vain,” “Tumbling Dice, “Happy,” “Sweet Little 16” and “Jumping Jack Flash.”

I’m not a fan of concert DVDs. I watch ‘em once and give ‘em away. This one, though, will join my very special collection of keepers that will give me an annual thrill. Approaching 61 as I am, I just hope I get a bunch more viewings.