Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Rolling Stones – "Sing This All Together" (1967)

Pictures of us beating on our drum
Never stopping ’til the rain has come

The pop culture website Vulture.com recently ranked all 374 Rolling Stones songs from best to worst. 

The list includes all the songs from the Stones’ studio albums, plus some singles and B-sides that were never included on albums, some songs released on live albums that were never recorded in the studio, and several previously unreleased songs that were included on the 2010 deluxe edition of Exile on Main St.  

From Vulture.com
I could imagine giving all the Stones’ songs letter grades based on relative quality – A+, A, A-, B+, and so on.  But attempting to rank 374 songs from best to worst is a ridiculous endeavor.  (Surely Marchese doesn’t really believe that the difference between #373 and #374 – or #273 and #274, or #173 and #174 – is meaningful.) 

I’m not going to waste your time talking about the lower-ranking songs, a disproportionate number of which are from the group’s more recent albums – which is as it should be.  (I’m as big a Rolling Stones as you’re going to find, but with a few exceptions, I could quite happily live without their post-Exile on Main St. albums.)

Marchese puts only a few post-1972 Stones songs in his top 50, but I don’t think any of them belong there.  For example, he inexplicably ranks two songs from 1978’s Some Girls album – “Beast of Burden” and “Miss You” at #3 and #11, respectively.  That’s crazy.  

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Marchese doesn’t rank the Stones’ albums – at least not explicitly.

But it’s possible to derive album rankings by adding up the individual ranking numbers for each song on an album and dividing by the number of songs.  The higher the average ranking for the songs on an album, the better the album is.  (Does that make sense?  I think so.)

Based on that calculation, Marchese believes that Let It Bleed – whose ten songs have an average ranking of 38.5 – is the best Rolling Stones album.  

I couldn’t agree more.

Simply the best
Marchese’s lowest ranked Let It Bleed song is “You Got the Silver,” which he puts at #104 – comfortably in the top third of all Stones songs.  Six of the album’s ten songs are in his top 40 songs, including his #1 (“You Can’t Always Get What You Want”) and his #2 (“Gimme Shelter”).

The songs on Sticky Fingers have an average ranking of 54.4, making it Marchese’s second-ranked album.  

Marchese’s highest ranked Sticky Fingers song is “Brown Sugar” at #10.  His #12, #15, #16, #21, and #22 songs are all from that album – in other words, he thinks six of best 22 Rolling Stones songs ever are from Sticky Fingers.

A lot of critics think that Exile on Main St. is the best Stones album.  That’s odd to me because almost no one thinks The Beatles – better known as the “White Album” – is the Beatles’ best album, and The Beatles is for the Beatles what Exile is for the Stones.  

Both are two-record albums that include some great songs, but have as many misses as hits – I think each would have been much better as a one-record album.  (Given the bad blood between the members of the Lennon-McCartney and Jagger-Richards songwriting duos when those albums were recorded, it’s not surprising that those albums contain a number of less-than-memorable songs . . . and something of a miracle that they include as many good songs as they do.)

Marchese give the 18 songs on Exile on Main St. an average ranking of 60.5 – just a few spots worse than the average ranking for Sticky Fingers.  No song from Exile is ranked higher than #17, but only one of the album’s tracks is ranked lower than #88.  

I don’t get it.  I think Exile suffers from too much Keith Richards and not enough Mick Jagger.  Everyone loves good ol’ Keith, but he’s really a supporting player – not the equal of Jagger when it came to songwriting.  Mick was the brains behind the operation, and Exile suffers from Jagger’s apparent lack of engagement.  Too many of the songs are rootsy, bluesy, country-ish, gospel-ish, jammy, and loosey-goosey.  (Jagger has said that the album is “a bit overrated, to be honest,” and he’s right.)

I also have a problem with Marchese’s rankings of the individual Exile songs.  His favorite is “Tumbling Dice,” which was the most popular single from the album.  (I remember when “Tumbling Dice” was released.  I was in college, and was a huge Stones fan – so I rushed out and bought the single, anticipating something great.  It wasn’t painful to listen to, but it wasn’t very interesting.  Compared to “Gimme Shelter” or “Sympathy for the Devil” or “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” it was boring.)

While I think “Soul Survivor” is the album’s strongest song by far, Marchese has it smack dab in the middle of the Exile pack.

The biggest bone I have to pick with Marchese is the extent to which he disses Their Satanic Majesties Request, the Stones’ most eccentric, outré album.  (Marchese isn’t the only critic who has a low opinion of that album, of course – it was universally panned when it was released.)  

Their Satanic Majesties Request may be a little over the top – OK, it’s way over the top – but Marchese gives its songs an average ranking of 242.2.  To add insult to injury, he ranks the last track from side one of the album, “Sing This All Together (See What Happens),” as #374 out of the 374 ranked songs.

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Today’s featured song, “Sing This All Together,” is the first track from Their Satanic Majesties Request.  Marchese somehow overlooked “Sing This All Together” and didn’t rank it.  Or perhaps his editor got confused and deleted it because he thought it was the same thing as “Sing This All Together (See What Happens).” 

Here’s “Sing This All Together,” which may be the most Beatles-esque song the Rolling Stones ever recorded:

Click below to buy “Sing This All Together” from Amazon:

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