Saturday, November 24, 2012

(47th in a series of) Stepping Stones: "A Misleading Title"

Song: Sympathy for the Devil
Album: Beggars Banquet
Released: December 1968

Before wrapping up these Stepping Stones (next entry), I knew at some point I had to tackle that controversial song with the misleading title.  After all, Sympathy for the Devil (
 ) is one of the greatest of all Rock and Roll songs.  Rolling Stone Magazine agrees, having recently rated it at number 38 in the top 500 songs of all time.  But man, that title!  What were the Stones thinking?  Well, knowing this band, they knew very well what they were thinking.  That being said, had they fallen into a state of hubris?  This can do you in, and some have argued that such over-confidence may have brought the Rolling Stones some bad karma, particularly in the short term: Brian Jones death, Altamont, drug addictions.  At the very least it was the final nail in the coffin for the Stones with the conservative evangelical crowd. 

Yet despite all the outrage generated by the title and related misunderstandings at the time of the songs release (for example, Jagger singing from the viewpoint of the devil), ‘Sympathy’ is actually about exposing evil, not purporting it.  It’s loaded with historical references, reminding us of some of the most tragic and disturbing events of recorded times while stamping these events as being far from random.  In the process, this classic tune appears to emphasize what can happen if we try to ignore the sinfulness that is out there.  Coming on the heels of 1) their song We Love You 2) a brilliant cover of Robert Wilkins’ Prodigal Son (which summarizes the classic Biblical parable) and 3) Mick Jagger and Keith Richards’ genuine participation in the Beatles live TV footage of All You Need is Love, it is hard for a Stones aficionado to overlook the band’s true intentions here.  They just made it hard on themselves, which has never been an unusual position for these cats to be in.

When I was a teenager, none of this would need explaining.  It was simply understood, and I assumed that anyone else who listened got it too.  My focus at the time was primarily on the brilliant melding of music and lyrics.  I mean, this was a damn good song!  And being a history buff intensified this sentiment.  The Stones make their way through the centuries, from Jesus Christ and Pontius Pilate to the 100 Year War to the Troubadours to the fatal end of Czarist Russia to the Nazi’s (I still believe Jagger sings ‘held a generous rank’ and not ‘held a generals rank’…  as it adds to the shadiness) and finally, the Kennedy assassinations (Bobby was killed a few days before the final version of ‘Sympathy’, which had Jagger modifying the lyrics from ‘who killed Kennedy’ to ‘who killed the Kennedys’).  While listening to this one song when I was a teenager, I picked up a sense of the meaning of these events more than I did during a handful of history classes, several of which included major discussion on these topics.  Interestingly, one of these classes, ‘History of the Post-War World’, which I took in college, focused on some of the same basic concepts the Stones do:  The insular, somewhat misguided optimism of the United States in the 50s, especially when comparing to Europe and Asia, which were digging out from under the rubble of war. 

The genius of ‘Sympathy’ is in its simplicity.  None of the instruments, other than the fast-paced bass guitar, appear all that difficult to replicate.  It’s a masterful song that can bring you close to the action, even if you are not a musician.  I recall being in the basement of a musician friend of Phil and Pete’s during our senior year in high school.  There were instruments all around.  A group of us settled in around the room (including an excellent jazz bass-guitar player who I had never met before and have never seen since).  The musicians started playing.  I picked up a pair of maracas and began shaking them to the beat, which slowly began to evolve and gel.  After a few moments, it became obvious to me that the beat was morphing into the intro to this week’s Stepping Stone.  The microphone was next to me.  I started mouthing the opening lines “Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste…..”, and proceeded to sing most of the song with the musicians around me locking in.  It was as close as I ever got to the feel of a studio session.  It was an incredible rush.

Another great memory related to this song was during my early days attending Carleton University in Ottawa.  I had spent a fantastic afternoon diving and swimming in the rapids of the Rideau River with several new found friends, including Steve V.  On the way back to the dorms, we walked along the Rideau Canal.  I initiated singing ‘Sympathy’ and soon had a chorus backing me with the classic sounding ‘Oooh, Oooh’ that kicks in halfway through the song.  These were the days I had no problem belting out a tune when surrounded by good friends or family (daughter Charlotte has stifled me way to often in recent years…. I’ve got to get back in the swing of it). 

The percussion beat to Sympathy for the Devil is the first thing heard when putting the needle down on side 1 of ‘Beggars Banquet’.  It initiated an amazing triumvirate of opening songs for the Stones, soon to be followed by Gimme Shelter off ‘Let it Bleed’ and Brown Sugar off ‘Sticky Fingers’.  What a run.  I challenge anyone to name a better or even equal streak.  I’m not sure the Stones ever really thought much about song order (in general) or the selection of an opening song (in particular) on any of their 22 British-released studio albums.  Unlike Lou Reed, who has discussed the importance of song order, I don’t ever recall members of the Rolling Stones stating anything to this effect.  For what it’s worth though, here are all opening Stones songs in chronological order, with my own personal ranking for each in parenthesis:

1.       Route 66 opens ‘The Rolling Stones’ (# 11)
2.       Everybody Needs Somebody to Love opens  ‘The Rolling Stones No. 2’ (# 20)
3.       She Said Yeah opens ‘Out of Our Heads’ (# 18)
4.       Mother’s Little Helper opens ‘Aftermath’ (# 7)
5.       Yesterday’s Papers opens ‘Between the Button’ (# 17)
6.       In Another Land opens ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request’ (# 22)
7.       Sympathy for the Devil opens ‘Beggars Banquet’ (# 2)
8.       Gimme Shelter opens ‘Let It Bleed’ (# 1)
9.       Brown Sugar opens ‘Sticky Fingers’ (# 4)
10.   Rocks Off opens ‘Exile on Main St.’ (# 3)
11.   Dancing With Mr. D opens ‘Goats Head Soup’ (# 14)
12.   If You Can’t Rock Me opens ‘It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll’ (# 16)
13.   Hot Stuff opens ‘Black and Blue’ (# 13)
14.   Miss You opens ‘Some Girls’ (# 5)
15.   Dances Part 1 opens ‘Emotional Rescue’ (# 8)
16.   Start Me Up opens ‘Tattoo You’ (# 6)
17.   Undercover of the Night opens ‘Undercover’ (# 9)
18.   One Hit (To The Body) opens ‘Dirty Work’ (# 15)
19.   Sad Sad Sad opens ‘Steel Wheels’ (# 19)
20.   Love Is Strong opens of ‘Voodoo Lounge’ (# 10)
21.   Flip the Switch opens ‘Bridges to Babylon’ (# 21)
22.   Rough Justice opens ‘A Bigger Bang’ (# 12)

Ok, so how could the Rolling Stones have made things easier on themselves with the title of this song?  Perhaps they could have gone with something like “We Know You Are Out There You Rat Bastard” or “Misery Loves Company”.  But ya know, part of me thinks they made the right call.  Someone had to push the envelope forward; pull in minds that would otherwise never be pulled into such discourse.  I would not have been one of them (having a strong faith installed at a young age, thanks in large part to my parents), but I do know many who fell into this camp.  By the time ‘Beggar’s Banquet’ was released, the Rolling Stones knew their audience.  They knew they were working with a fan base that was rebelling against an establishment they did not believe in.  The “Summer of Love” thing was not working anymore….at least for a while.   Some bands tried to ramp up the message of “Peace, Love, and Understanding”.   Many of these musicians fell out of favor.  The Stones knew they were dealing with a more complex situation than those bands did.  Their approach was risky…. but it worked.

-          Pete

Thursday, November 15, 2012

(46th in a series of) Stepping Stones "Spotlight on Keith Richards: Substantive Results"

Song: Torn and Frayed
Album: Exile on Main St.
Released: May, 1972

Spotlight on: Keith Richards

In the walk of life, there can be no better fortune than to cross paths with an authentic soul:  Someone who is genuine, true, real, veritable, and original.  I’ve been blessed in this way, having connected with numerous solid individuals over the years, be they friends, family, or colleagues.  You tend to cling to these types.  They make life’s meaning clearer, deeper, and even easier.   This is not to say they don’t have their own struggles.  None of us are perfect.  In the same vein, neither are they similar in nature to one another.  But one constant is they all have a core personal value system that works.  And they stick to it, ultimately making their integrity clairvoyant to those of us who have been graced to see it for what it is.

It’s one thing to perceive authenticity at a personal level.  Making that type of observation in someone you do not know is much harder.  Yet it can be done.  Most of us, for example, can come to a fairly quick conclusion that Abraham Lincoln was authentic.  A fair percentage of us would say the same for Gandhi, Vincent Van Gogh, Martin Luther King or Mother Teresa:  There have been enough teachings and writings about these historic figures to at least make an educated guess on the subject.  For each of these movers/shakers, the authenticity is personified in some way be it 1) decision making in the face of adversity, 2) their writings/oratory 3) artistic expression, 4) alms, 5) spirituality or 6) activism.  As such, the concept of authenticity includes the ability to find your niche, and then to master it, while in the process making those around you better for it.

The music world has shown us a fair share of authenticity as well.  Here, it’s primarily about mastering an irreproducible sound.  One could conclude that Mozart was authentic, simply because he was so brilliant at making music.  Same could be said for Edith Piaf, Robert Johnson, Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams, Billie Holiday, and Bob Dylan.  But it all goes a bit beyond the ability to be a good musician:  There have been many very proficient composers who have never connected with the world the way these musicians did.  There are other factors that come into play, and you can hear it in that inimitable sound that each one produces.  With Mozart it’s hard to confirm this because his original concerts predated recording.  We can only take the word of those who were there (read: Antonio Salieri). For all these other musicians however, you can hear something beyond the notes.

With a successful band, it can be harder to decipher where the authenticity is coming from.  Rarely do you find it all evenly dispersed, as was the case with R.E.M.  Usually you find one or two authentic individuals who bring out the best in their bandmates.  John Lennon’s authenticity brought out the best in Paul McCartney.  Brian Wilson brought out the best in Mike Love.  Neil Young brought out the best in Stephen Stills.  Robbie Robertson brought out the best in Levon Helm (sorry Levon).  Ray Davies brought out the best in Brother Dave.  Jerry Garcia did the same for Bob Weir.  Roger Waters brought out the best in David Gilmour.  And Pete Townshend did it for Roger Daltrey. 

Strangely enough, in all these instances it could be argued that the musical abilities of the authentic soul were inferior to those of the recipient.  McCartney, for example, is recognized as one of the best musicians of his generation; Gilmour one of its most brilliant guitarists.  My earlier point though in regards to authenticity in a musician is that it is not solely about the music.  It’s about the overall sound, and what contribute to it are intangible qualities.  Musical notes can be duplicated.  Distinct sound cannot be.  Distinct sound captures a mood.  It captures a moment in time.  It captures an essence.

The Rolling Stones?  Well, I’ve been enjoying their music for the better part of four decades now.  Yet it would take a straight year of listening to them and writing about them to realize that this band also has an authentic musician in their midst. 

The bandleader is no other than Keith Richards.

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In the process of writing these Stepping Stones, I’ve shined the spotlight on Bill Wyman (Stepping Stone # 3), Brian Jones (# 11), Mick Taylor (# 19), Ronnie Wood (# 29), Charlie Watts (# 37) and Mick Jagger (# 43).  All that remained was the Human Riff.  The King of Rhythm.  Mr. Instinct.  In other words, I saved the best for last.  As recently as last year, I would not have been willing to conclude this. Richards is a hard nut to crack.  But heavy listening can get you to the bottom of most music. 

Before I get into some of the reasons why I now grant Keith Richards the distinction of carrying the Rolling Stones authentic torch, I thought I’d reflect briefly on my personal evolution in ranking the individual Stones.  I’ll preface this ranking by first saying that ALL of the Rolling Stones bring a boatload to the table, so these rankings are relative:

A: My early years of listening (mid-70s to mid-80s) > 1) Brian, 2) Bill, 3) Mick, 4) Mick Taylor, 5) Keith, 6) Charlie, 7) Ronnie

B: The last 20 years or so > 1) Mick, 2) Mick Taylor, 3) Brian, 4) Keith, 5) Bill, 6) Charlie, 7) Ronnie

C: Now > 1) Keith, 2) Mick, 3) Charlie, 4) Bill, 5) Ronnie, 6) Mick Taylor, 7) Brian

I believe I have it right now.  So what happened?  Well, there are many reasons.  The biggest I believe is that the Stones most explosive period was a 4-album stretch from 1968 (‘Beggar’s Banquet’) to 1972 (‘Exile on Main St.’) and this was the period that Richards was at his most dominant.  Every great band has a ‘classic’ stretch of music.  The Stones are no exception, and their ‘Imperial Era’ could also be defined as the personification of Keith Richards.  I’ve teased this out while listening to these albums intensely this year.  Reading about this time period in Stones history helped, but ultimately it came down to hearing it, which was finally what happened with me.  We all hope to have some stretch in our lives when all cylinders are clicking.  When we really show what we are made of.  That period for Richards was ’68 – ’72.

Secondly, Keith Richards puts his band ahead of most everything else.  And he has never wavered from this stance.  When Bill Wyman decided to quit the band in 1993, Richards stated something to the effect that the only way you could leave the Stones was in a casket.  Richards is passionate about the Rolling Stones.  He reveals this through his endurance; willing to take a session into the wee hours and beyond. He reveals this in his renowned ability to go days without sleep, which may have something to do with his trying to connect on a deeper level with those around him in order to master the musical moment.  He reveals this in his refusal to recognize his contemporaries in any substantial way; a true home-team kind-of guy. 

Thirdly, Richards brings the edge and mystique to the Stones: Skull rings, blood transfusions, his Dad’s ashes, refusal to acknowledge royal recognition for his accomplishments, jail sentences, drug busts, and grace under pressure are but some of the examples.  For decades Richards was listed at #1 on celebrity death lists.  Now the running joke goes that in the case of a nuclear disaster, the only survivors will be cockroaches and Keith Richards.  Back in the late 60s, Richards made the observation that he was being miscast as a social deviant.  Most of us would try to correct a false image.  Not Keith Richards.  His attitude: “If that’s how you are trying to paint me, I’ll give it to you in spades.”

Fourth, Keith Richards is an open book.  His songwriting partner, Mick Jagger, is guarded.  Who can blame him?…..he is after all constantly dealing with the pitfalls of superstardom.  Not Keith though.  He never shies away from a challenging question.  And I don’t mean this in a soul-searching way.  I mean it in a confident “I know who I am” way.  In retrospect, this may be just what threw me off all those years ago with Keith Richards.  As mentioned in Stepping Stones # 44, growing up in the 70s connected many of us to the humanization of Rock n’ Roll;  the period of confession.  Richards was the exception.  Other than the rare occasion (i.e. Coming Down Again), he did not play that game.  He didn’t have to.

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I was ‘torn’ for this week’s Stepping Stone.  On the one hand, I had Torn and Frayed, an enchanting song that cuts to the core of Keith Richards value system.  On the other hand was How Can I Stop, which is a bit more of a hidden message but…. also cuts to the core of his value system.  In the words of Don Was, the Stones producer for 1997s ‘Bridges to Babylon’, How Can I Stop would have been the perfect swan song for the Rolling Stones.  It describes Richards’ passion for his band in a way few songs by any band have done.  In the end though, I settled on Torn and Frayed ( ).  It’s on the Stones best album, and in all honesty, is the better song. 

So here’s to authenticity!  Not all of us are going to find what we are truly cut out for.  Yet, it can be almost as fun to recognize it in others.  I came around with seeing it in Keith Richards.  I’m willing to bet that at one time or another; the remaining Rolling Stones have too.

-          Pete

Thursday, November 8, 2012

(45th in a series of) Stepping Stones: "100 Musical Highlights in Stones History"

Song: 19th Nervous Breakdown
Album:  Released as a single
Released:  February, 1966

I’d like to make a declaration:  With a few more weeks to wrap things up, I can already say that it is very likely I’ve listened to more Rolling Stones music in 2012 than anyone else alive.  Actually, let me qualify that statement:  I’ve listened to more of a range of Rolling Stones music than anyone else.  I’m not sure how to prove it, and frankly I have no idea what this all means.  But I do know it puts me in somewhat of a unique position to quantify some findings.   So, below I have compiled a list of 100 of the greatest individual moments in Stones songs.  There are a few ensemble bullets, but most of these are centered on someone in or around the band who really stepped to the plate for a given song.  This list is in no particular order.

Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, Brian Jones, and Ronnie Wood are primarily referred to on a first-name basis.  The other Mick (Taylor) needed his surname added to distinguish him from Jagger (who I could have called “Sir Mick”, but that would have just pissed off Keith).  Anyone else is referenced with their full names. 

1)      Bill’s “dive-bombing” bass line at the end of 19th Nervous Breakdown (this week’s Stepping Stone).  Mr. Wyman was trying to replicate what a nervous breakdown must sound like (never mind a 19th one).  Pretty convincing:
2)      Charlie’s drum beat during the bridge to She’s So Cold.  Charlie Watts could cover a range of genres.  Here he adds Disco to the list:
3)      Brian’s sitar playing throughout Paint it Black.  Who would have thought a Far-Eastern instrument could be incorporated into a Rock song:
4)      Ronnie’s guitar playing during the bridge to Rough Justice at the 1:32 mark of the attached video.  This is Rock n’ Roll at its purest:
5)      Brian’s trumpet playing in She’s a Rainbow.  There’s a connection with beauty here that is oh-so-rare to capture in song:
6)      Keith’s guitar in Love is Strong.  Mick’s harmonica is great, but the song does not kick into high gear until Richards knocks off a masterful riff at the 1:16 mark of the attached url:
7)      Mick’s vocals for the bridge to Waiting on a Friend at the 2:39 mark of the attached video.  Few songs about friendship have come across as authentically:
8)      Bill’s bass playing for the homestretch of Rocks Off.  The perfect conga line for this moment consists of the following: The rest of the band in front, horns in the middle, Mr. Wyman in the back:
9)      Mick’s vocals for the bridge in Loving Cup.  The entire song is magical.  If this is what happens when you are in exile, I can make that sacrifice:
10)   Wayne Perkins guitar work on Hand of Fate.  The sequence starting at the 1:34 mark captures the violent mood of this song remarkably well:
11)   Mick Taylor’s guitar solo on the instrumental portion of Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.  An entire Stepping Stone (# 19) is dedicated to this one:
12)   Ronnie’s bass playing on Emotional Rescue.  Yes, this is Ronnie Wood, not Bill Wyman:
13)   Keith Richards’ and Mick Taylor’s throwaway riffs at the end of It’s Only Rock n’ Roll (But I Like It).  The first fresh riff comes in at the 4:04 mark of the attached url.  The second at the 4:26 mark:
14)   Mick’s vocals on Shattered, particularly the verse  Friends are so alarming, My lovers never charming, Life’s just a cocktail party on the street, Big Apple, People dressed in plastic bags, Directing traffic, Some kind of fashion”:
15)   Merry Clayton’s support vocals in Gimme Shelter.  How do you combine strength and vulnerability?  Ask Ms. Clayton.  She did it.
16)   Mick’s singing of the repeating line “Have you seen the lady fairer” in She’s a Rainbow.  Nothing makes me feel like I’m at the Monterey Pop Festival more than this:
17)   Charlie’s evolving drum sound on Sway.  As much as anyone, Mr. Watt’s upped the ante as the Stones “Imperial Era” began:
18)   Keith’s opening riff to Rough Justice.  The Stones are coming in from the cold here after 8 years of inactivity.  Mr. Richards reins things in… a hurry:
19)   Keith’s guitar playing during the “get down” moments of Street Fighting Man.  The Stones proved often that when it came to “getting down”, no one could do it better:
20)   Nicky Hopkins piano playing in She’s a Rainbow.  One of the rare moments when a non-core-member of the Rolling Stones just about stole the show:
21)   Mick Taylor’s guitar playing on Moonlight Mile.  Being able to do “that Japanese thing” proved his versatility to the band and all of us:
22)   The anonymous high backing vocal repeating the refrain throughout Star Star, but most noticeably at the 3:48 mark of the attached url.  I keep picturing the Stones getting support from the Muppets.  Hilarious:
23)   The London Symphony Orchestra at the end of You Can’t Always Get What You Want.  It would take an entire chorus section for Mick Jagger to finally get upstaged:
24)   Nicky Hopkins (piano) and Keith Richards (guitar) eerie 1-2 punch at the beginning of Monkey Man:
25)   Keith Richards fast paced bass guitar playing on Sympathy for the Devil, starting at the 39 second mark of  the attached url.  Yes, this is Keith playing bass, not Bill:
26)   Mick’s vocals in She Was Hot.  The last minute starting at the 3:42 mark require lots of volume:
27)   Lisa Fischer’s backing vocals on Plundered My Soul.  The first time I heard this I was blown away.  I still am.  And of course, there’s that magnificent video to top it off:
28)   Bill’s ‘vrooming bass’ at the end of Paint It Black.  Later he was content to keep in the groove, but Wyman was very creative in the early years:
29)   Mick’s vocals on I Am Waiting.  A uniquely fay delivery that would never be repeated by the Stones again:
30)   Keith’s riff on Jumpin’ Jack Flash.  This solidified for the Stones a sound all their own:
31)   Charlie’s drumming on So Devine (Aladdin Story).  Mr. Modest actually shows off a little here:
32)   Brian’s recorder playing on Ruby Tuesday.  This is a musician in the moment:
33)   Ry Cooder’s bottleneck guitar playing on Sister Morphine.  Everyone stepped it up a notch on ‘Sticky Fingers’.  The hired guns were no exception:
34)   Ronnie’s fade in/out guitar on Undercover of the Night.  A cutting edge sound in a not-so cutting edge era:
35)   Keith’s vocals on Little T&A.  This is Richards’ most confident lead vocal delivery:
36)   Ronnie’s heavy guitar bridges on Laugh, I Nearly Died.  A mood is cast with this special effect:
37)   Mick’s backing vocals on Before They Make Me Run.  Done with empathy to lift the spirits of a good friend:
38)   Brian’s marimba playing on Under My Thumb.  How many instruments could this guy play anyway?
39)   Jimmy Miller’s production work on Sweet Black Angel.  Simple and divine:
40)   Ian Stewart’s piano playing on Silver Train.  The Stones could still boogie with the best of them in 1973, much to the credit of this man:
41)   Bill’s bass playing on She’s So Cold.  Along with Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman had mastered the Disco beat.  Listen to the transition at the 2:16 mark of the attached url…. It’s bass driven:
42)   Charlie’s drums on Let’s Spend the Night Together.  Such a tremendously up-tempo sound:
43)   Bobby Keys saxophone during the instrumental bridge in Brown Sugar.  Keith Richards best buddy steps to the plate here:
44)   Mick’s harmonica (harp) playing on Midnight Rambler.  A song Keith Richard’s has referred to as a “Blues Opera”:
45)   Keith’s backing vocals on Memory Motel.  She got a mind of her own, and she uses it mighty fine”.  Oh, and it’s Nancy’s favorite Stones song:
46)   Ronnie’s opening acoustic guitar on One Hit (to the Body).  Temporary group leader would be a new role for Mr. Wood here:
47)   Whoever makes that strange noise in Dance Part 1.  The first occurrence is at 2:31 of the attached video:
48)   Nicky Hopkins harpsichord on Dandelion.  For a non-member, this guy sure had his share of highlights:
49)   The heavy instrumental transitions on Laugh, I Nearly Died (the first at 1:16 of the attached url).  The protagonists realization he’s being laughed at by someone he trusted:
50)   The buildup to the “I Go Wild” refrains on the song of the same name.  For example, “On life support, tubes in my nose, tubes in my arms, shot full of holes” (1:39 of the attached url):
51)   The beautiful gospel singing (Clydie King, Vanetta Field, Shirley Goodman, others) at the end of Let it Loose.  Proving that at one time at least the Rolling Stones connected with fervent religious emotions:
52)   The imagery projected through the lyrics of Shine A Light.  The song is said to be written by Mick Jagger regarding his feeling of helplessness at how to deal with the deteriorating state of Brian Jones in the late 60s.  An inability to brush off the flies.  Unable to “get a line on you”. Angels sighing:
53)   Wayne Perkins’ guitar solo on Worried About You.  Giving Jagger the follow up ability to pick up the intensity in his vocals:
54)   Mick Taylor’s lead guitar during the bridge on Shine A Light (starting at 2:41 of the attached url).  Unmistakably “Taylor Made”:
55)   Oh, the psychedelia… from every direction!  2000 Light Years From Home:
56)   Mick Taylor’s guitar solo on the last 2 plus minutes of Time Waits For No One.  A bit overboard perhaps, but this was after all Mr. Taylor’s swan song:
57)   The backing vocals in Fool to Cry.  Repetitive, but somehow more and more effective as the song progresses:
58)   Ronnie’s “Inspiration” for It’s Only Rock n’ Roll (But I Like It).  A classic song, which includes some improvisation.  Whatever ways he inspired, though…. it worked:
59)   The Chops Horns on Too Much Blood. A nice touch to a truly freaky song:
60)   The Jagger/Richards tag-team-lead vocals on Something Happened To Me Yesterday.  Jagger sings the verses, Richards sings the chorus.  A fun interplay:
61)   Bill’s driving bass on Mother’s Little Helper.  When allowed to add to the creative process, this man showed what he was made of:
62)   Charlie’s drumming on Dead Flowers.  By this time, Watts had mastered most all the musical genres:
63)   Mick’s vocals for the bridge to Just My Imagination.  Every night I hope and pray…..”.  Everything else tones down here for Jagger to weave his magic:
64)   Keith’s multitasking work on Happy.  Bass, guitar and vocals.  Jimmy Miller added the drums, Bobby Keys the maracas, and whataya know; a Stones song with just one Stone:
65)   Keith’s guitar playing on Love in Vain.  Man, this guy loves the blues and may have on his own turned me on to Robert Johnson:
66)   The backing vocals on Almost Hear You Sigh.  By this time, the Stones were using hired guns to support Mick Jagger.  Often, as is the case here, it works:
67)   Keith’s master riff on Satisfaction.  Again, as stated for its own Stepping Stone, there’s no leaving this one off the plate:
68)   Charlie’s drum roll on Sister Morphine at the 2:42 mark of the attached url.  The song shifts here from Heavy to HEAVY:
69)   Mick’s vocals on Torn and Frayed.  Jagger somehow morphs his singing style into a Richards-like persona here:
70)   Brian’s harmonica playing on Not Fade Away.  You can hear the enthusiasm ooze its way through Mr. Jones harp:
71)   Those gospel singers again (Clydie King, Vanetta Fields, Dr. John, Shirley Goodman, Tammi Lynn), this time on Sweet Virginia.  How can a song sound so soulful while using the refrain “Got to scrape that shit right off your shoes”?
72)   Keith’s guitar on Prodigal Son.  A classic Biblical story put to music.  And Mr. Richards “Hey!” near the end of the song adds a perfect exclamation point:
73)   Mick’s singing on Heaven.  Perhaps the most extreme-sounding Jagger vocals ever:
74)   The banter between guys and gals near the end of Where the Boys Go (3:20 of attached url).  If the Stones ever do a musical, this song should be included:
75)   Daryl Jones strong and steady bass beat on Saint of Me.  The Stones knew what they were doing when the hired this guy to replace Bill Wyman:
76)   Keith’s guitar solo on Honky Tonk Woman.  Richards rarely saw a place for a guitar solo in a Stones song,  but on rare occasions such as this, boy did he make it work :
77)   The entire band’s build up through the bridge on She Smiled Sweetly (1:30 of the attached url).  A great example of a band evolving:
78)   The lyrics to Sympathy For the Devil.  A history lesson in the perils of evildoing:
79)   Bill’s bass playing on Hot Stuff.   Funky beat!:
80)   Charlie’s drumming on Tumbling Dice.  This song is representative of Watts’ steady day-in, day-out contributions on the entire ‘Exile on Main St.’ album (and for that matter, the entire Stones career):
81)   Keith’s guitar intro to Gimme Shelter.  Is there any doubt the Stones ‘Imperial Era’ could be defined as the personification of Keef himself:
82)   Bill’s bass playing on Respectable.  This is about as fast paced as you are going to hear Wyman’s playing.  Oh, and a nice uncovered video I've never seen before:
83)   Charlie’s drumming on Complicated.  Everyone was improving as musicians during this period.  Watts clearly was adapting to the more sophisticated sounds:
84)   The band’s ability to suck the air out of the sound during Monkey Man at the 2:35 mark of the attached url.  It was done even more impressively live:
85)   Keith and Ronnie’s guitar interplay on Doom and Gloom.  Just the fact these cats can still write good music after 50 years is explanation enough here:
86)   Keith’s high pitched backing vocals on Mercy, Mercy.  By the late 60s this ability was lost.  But it’s all there on record from 1965:
87)   Jack Nitzsche’s harpsichord performance on Play with Fire.  A late night recording session with just Mick and Keith awake had session man Nitzsche join in for this final cut:
88)   Ian Stewart’s Piano Instrumental (Secret Track) at the end ‘Dirty Work’.  Hey, there needed to be something authentic on this album, which was dedicated the then recently deceased Stu.  No link found, but hey, it is after all a “secret track”.
89)   Darryl Jones ominous single bass notes just before each of the “Anybody seen my baby” refrains on Anybody Seen My Baby.  Proving it does not take much to set a mood:
90)   The Master Musicians of Jajouka and their Moroccan instruments on Continental Drift.  Here are the Stones at their most exotic:
91)   Mick acting out paranoia on the phone with a woman friend toward the end of Fingerprint File.  This guy is as comfortable behind a microphone as you can possibly be:
92)   All the great ivory playing on Memory Motel by Mick (concert piano), Keith (electric piano) and Billy Preston (string synthesizer).  Mystical, magical, and masterful:
93)   The repeating chorus on Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker).  Based on the title of the song, you can probably guess what that chorus repeated:
94)   The spiritual intensity of I Just Want To See His Face.  The Stones were doing a lot of soul searching on ‘Exile’:
95)   Mick’s singing on Ventilator Blues.  You can feel the stifling heat of Keith’s basement:
96)   Brian’s slide guitar on No Expectations.  Jones was losing interest (and his mind) by this time, but still managed to pick up and play any instrument that fancied him at any given moment:
97)   Keith’s singing on You Got the Silver.  Particularly as the pace picks up near the end:
98)   Pete Townshend’s backing vocals on Slave.  Just because:
99)   The Mick and Keith exchange at the beginning of Dance Part 1.  I just find it funny how Richards brushes off Jagger’s inquiries.  Classic Keith:
100)    Bobby Keys solo saxophone during the instrumental portion of Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.  Setting the stage for the young buck, Mick Taylor, to do the same on lead guitar:

-          Pete