The Rolling Stones - The Rolling Stones - Review
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critics' view

In keeping with the frantic, fast-paced nature of the era, the London five-piece laid down their opening album set over the course of just 5 days at the start of the year. At this time they were: Mick Jagger (20, lead vocals); Keith Richards (20, guitar, backing vocals); Brian Jones (21, guitar, harmonica, percussion, backing vocals); Bill Wyman (27, bass guitar, backing vocals) and Charlie Watts (22, drums, percussion). The Stones’ debut is a heady affair, high on life, and a positive celebration of the rebellious heritage of America’s rhythm n blues scene since the mid-50s; these young men were tipping their hat and paying their dues.

It’s a blast from the off, with the high energy one-two opening of “Route 66” (as per Chuck Berry’s vision) and “I Just Wanna Make Love To You”, which fairly ramps up the tempo of Muddy Water’s original. They show immaculate taste on track 3, by taking on Jimmy Reed’s “Honest I Do”; it’s clear these cats are the real McCoy. Without necessarily setting the heather on fire, there’s not a weak track on Side 1, as the group tackle Bo Diddley’s “Mona”, before serving up their instrumental “Now I’ve Got A Witness (Like Uncle Phil And Uncle Gene)” (a titular reference to Phil Spector and Gene Pitney, both of whom contributed to the sessions) and “Little by Little” which co-credits Phil Spector, who earns his corn by shaking some maracas.

Side 2 opens with Slim Harpo’s “I’m a King Bee” and the album’s rating duly rockets – they’ve got this music in their veins man – Slim’s “sting solo” never sounded so good! Their fantastic version of Chuck Berry’s “Carol” kicks ass and then, towards the end, another excellent cover of Gene Allison’s “You Can Make It If You Try” seals the deal on a terrific debut set. Rough n ready with nuff respect and not a little talent – authentic Blues culture had well and truly been delivered to British youth.

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