The Rolling Stones (1965)
In 1964, you could do pretty much anything in rock music and it would be unbelievably innovative, simply because not much had yet been achieved in the genre. Jack Ely forgot most of the lyrics to his band’s tune when they recorded it and the result – a little ditty called “Louie Louie” – set the world on fire, for crying out loud!
So it may seem a minor, obvious step in retrospect to turn happy-go-lucky, youthful, positive rock into rough-and-tumble, dark and disgusting music (especially given the raw nature of the blues). But that doesn’t make it any less important. These five lads sauntered maturely and provocatively into a British music scene that (like the world at large) had grown neutered and fusty. They proceeded to tear up the joint, peddling not just teen rebellion and raw sexuality, but authenticity – they tied the genre back to its roots, while pointing the way toward an uncertain, turbulent future.
These first steps were taken on the Rolling Stones’ 1964 debut, England’s Newest Hitmakers (released in the UK as The Rolling Stones), a seminal recording which was overshadowed by later records like Out Of Our Heads. The first record seems a bit tepid, hesitant and dated by current standards, but the latter is fantastic and polishes the same innovative formula. These albums represented a fundamental duality in popular music that continues into the modern era. Good and evil; night and day – both have their positive aspects and shortcomings. Record labels were quick to market the band as the antithesis to the Beatles’ peppy camaraderie (although they would prove to be far more versatile in the following years).
There was the charismatic, capricious frontman Mick Jagger and his fun-loving, dangerous pal, Keith Richards on rhythm guitar. The talented, but troubled Brian Jones usually handled lead guitar (until his tragic death in 1969), and the sullen, yet dependable Bill Wyman accompanied on bass. Finally, there was the relatively well-mannered, quiet Charlie Watts rounding out the rhythm section. The Rolling Stones had attitude, chops and style. And they were here to stay.
Key track: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”
See also: 12 X 5 – the Rolling Stones (1964)