The Rolling Stones' Some Girls in Sound and Print
Some Girls (Rolling Stones, 1978) was the last great Rolling Stones record. Some will argue that Tattoo You (Rolling Stones, 1981) was the last, but Tattoo You was comprised of outtakes from several previous recording sessions going back to Goats Head Soup (Rolling Stones, 1973). It was released as an excuse for the 1981 tourbetter than fair and captured on the all too brief Still Life (Rolling Stones, 1982)rather than a fully-conceived unit as was Some Girls.
Some Girls was the manifestation of the band's battle strategy on two fronts: one as an answer to pedestrian-popular, empty-calorie disco music and the intensely passionate and completely directionless punk movement, both of which were crowding the Stones' critical market in print and on the air. Having drawn criticism from both quarters, singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards set out in 1977 to record a Rolling Stones answer to both, with New York City as musical ground zero. The two generated an impressive number of songs, nine of which made their way to Some Girls, which was considered with Bruce Springsteen's Darkness on the Edge of Town (Columbia, 1978) and Bob Seger's Night Moves (Capitol, 1976) to be, "the last nail in the coffin of punk rock."
Sadly, the "Greatest Rock and Roll Band" had little more to say after Some Girls, but what a way to go out. The Deluxe Edition of Some Girls adds a full disc of outtakes from the sessions that indicate that the final product could have been very different had the band programmed differently. Released a short time later was Cyrus R.K. Patell's 33 & 1/3 series book dedicated to the recording, shedding an academic's bright light of one of the last great "classic" rock albums.
The Rolling Stones
Some Girls Deluxe Edition
Keith Richards was on the descending arc of his heroin experience in 1977. He had evaded any real legal consequences until February 27, 1977, when the guitarist was arrested for heroin possession in Canada and as a result faced several years in prison. His trial was continued during the Some Girls sessions and remained a pall over the recording process. Where heroin fueled Exile on Main St. (Rolling Stones, 1972), making it "Keith's album," it also greatly hindered him during the recording of Black and Blue (Rolling Stones, 1976) and Girls making these much more "Mick" recordings.
The recordings released between Exile on Main St. and Girls and were mostly directionless when compared to the earlier recordings with guitarist Mick Taylor. Goat's Head Soup (Rolling Stones, 1973) and It's Only Rock and Roll (Rolling Stones, 1974) were Mick Taylor's swan songs. Unhappy and mistreated by the two principles, Taylor flew the coup in December 1974, leaving a floundering Richards and a rejuvenated Jagger. It took Black and Blue to work out interim leadership kinks and to select Taylor's replacement, ultimately The Face's and Rod Stewart's guitarist, Ronnie Wood.
Before the Sex Pistols experienced their own well-deserved implosion, lead singer Johnny "Rotten" Lydon boasted that the Rolling Stones should have retired in 1965. This thrown gauntlet and the meringue popularity of disco lit a fire beneath Jagger, who had recently been spending time in New York City. These confluences joined to inspire the last greatest commitment by the Stones. Some Girls was Jagger's love letter to The Big Apple and his erect middle finger raised in tribute to punk and disco.
The band dispenses with disco right off the bat with the "four-on-the- floor" beat of "Miss You." Chicago street-harmonica player Sugar Blue slathers a thick layer of Southside all over the song, helping the Stones thumb its noses at the effete dance music. That is all that disco deserved as it was never taken seriously. Punk rock was something else altogether. "Lies," "Respectable" and "Shattered" amply demonstrated that the punk attitude could be expressed with both intelligence and musicality, two commodities in short supply with the Sex Pistols. Punk rock's primary cultural gift was to shock the rock establishment out of complacency and into action. With regards to the Rolling Stones, it can be considered the spark that started the fire.
"Before They Make Me Run" and "When The Whip Comes Down" are cast-in- iron Stones rockers, the former Richards' expression of fear regarding his upcoming trial. These belong to that long Stones tradition that gave us "Honky Tonk Women," "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Gimme Shelter." The remaining songs"Some Girls," "Far Away Eyes" and "It's Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)"are remnants that have always been present in the Rolling Stones book. The title piece is molten blues- rock, again coated with that over-driven Maxwell Street harp. The subject matter is urban and base, making the fact that the song is a satire a moot point. It is a continuation of the famous rock and roll misogyny that gave rise to "Under My Thumb," "Stupid Girl" and "Brown Sugar."