The Rolling Stones

London, 1966

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


Be it the UK release or the U.S. release, Aftermath is a brooding masterpiece from The Rolling Stones. If you go for the UK version, you arguably get a weaker leadoff with “Mother’s Little Helper” instead of “Paint it Black,” a song that lyrically and structurally, is a template for most goth-related songs. “Paint It Black” isn’t even on the UK release -- advantage U.S. However, the UK release has “What To Do,” “Take It Or Leave It,” “Out Of Time” and “Mother’s Little Helper” -- advantage my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 UK.  If you are judging an album on its overall flow, the U.S. version would probably win out, opening with a killer track and closing with the sprawling 11-minute “Going Home,” whereas “Going Home” lands close to the middle of the UK release; a major momentum killer for the album.

Aftermath was a full album worth of original material from The Rolling Stones, a feat that the Rolling Stones needed to accomplish as their peers were releasing stuff like Rubber Soul and Highway 61 Revisited. Mick Jagger is at his depraved best on songs like “Doncha Bother Me” and “Think.” “There’s no place where you can call home / Got me running like a cat in a thunderstorm,” Jagger sings in “It’s Not Easy,” a song that is a definite homage to the blues masters The Rolling Stones have always worshipped.

Jagger is at his bitchiest on “Stupid Girl” and “Under My Thumb.” Both songs are misogynistic as hell, but retain their appeal courtesy of Jagger’s swagger and Keith Richard’s guitar magic. Charlie Watts’ jazzy, sparse drumming can also be credited for making “Under My Thumb” a surefire contender for one of the best songs The Rolling Stones has ever made.

The Rolling Stones took some creative risks with Aftermath, much of which can be credited to Brian Jones. In addition to playing sitar on “Paint it Black,” he also plays the dulcimer on “Lady Jaye.” And during an era where most band were encouraged to keep their songs below the four minute mark, the 11-minute “Going Home” is almost like a slap in the face to commercial radio.

With only one other hit that’s still in heavy rotation (“Under My Thumb”), Aftermath is fairly untouched by radio, making it an album that can actually sound “new” to listeners who are sick of hearing “Start Me Up,” “I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” The debate may go on about whether Exile On Main Street is better than Let It Bleed, but Aftermath can easily stand on its own as the band’s often-underappreciated masterstroke.

Rating: A

User Rating: B



© 2007 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of London, and is used for informational purposes only.