I recently engaged in a classic “Beatles v Stones” debate on a message board, and here is what I concluded:
I love both bands, but I have to go with the Stones, with the caveat that what we know as "The Stones" ended with Tattoo You in 1980. I prefer dirt and grime over spit and polish in the end.
That string of Stones albums starting in '68: Beggars Banquet, Let it Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile on Main Street are unmatched in rock history.
This song comes in right under what I consider to be “The Stones” cutoff - the Tattoo You album in 1980, which incidentally was the first time I heard of the Stones. When I was in third grade they had a few radio hits off this album, the eternal “Start Me Up", “Hang Fire”, and one of my top three Stones songs, the flawless “Waiting on a Friend”. Some Girls, the album from which this song comes, includes some radio classics like “Shattered”, “Miss You” and “Beast of Burden”, as well as some awesome album cuts like Keith Richard’s fan favorite “Before They Make Me Run” , the country goof “Far Away Eyes”, and the controversial title song in which Jagger analyzes the sexual peculiarities of various ethnicities. Classy, Mick.
After they released “Undercover of the Night”, they all but fell off the map for me (and the less said about stuff like “Harlem Shuffle”, the better). Then in my senior year of high school they came back big for me. There were a coupe of reasons for this: one was they released a critically acclaimed “return to form” Steel Wheels, and my buddy nick bought Exile on Main Street(and made me a taped copy of it, labeling it "The Bible"). Nick, Patrick, Jake and I thought we should go see them on tour that year, when they played at Grant Field in Atlanta, and I recall a very early Saturday morning being picked up in Jake’s brown Ford Tempo, heading to Turtles to get lottery tickets to buy concert seats (remember those days?)
As soon as I got in the car, Jake pushed in the Exile tape and with the opening bars of “Rocks Off”, I knew there was more to this band than I heard growing up, and I was eager to investigate. This followed my foray into the aforementioned quaternity of Stones albums which still hold up strongly today. Beggar’s Banquet remains my favorite, with the Dylan-esque deep cut “Jigsaw Puzzle” also in my top three songs (the third? Exile’s “Torn and Frayed”. Thanks for asking!)
“Respectable” is a bare-bones, bluesy, barroom rave-up. Nothing fancy, just plowing ahead with that nasty guitar sound and other classic Stones tropes like Keith Richard’s high harmonies, Jagger’s lyrics about wooing a sassy young lady, and a classic 1-4-5 chord progression. It sounds like a song they made up on the spot and tossed off in one take in the studio to fill out an album, but in some ways it represents what the Stones are all about.
It appears that those days for the Stones are long gone, but every now an then they have a song that brings back the old magic – like “Mixed Emotions” from Steel Wheels , or even “Streets of Love” from their latest, Bigger Bang. They are obviously never going to have another run like they did from ’67 to ’82, but considering that that might represent the apotheosis of what we call “Rock & Roll”, there’s really no shame in that.
Click here for the official video, as embedding is not allowed. It’s cool to see Mick strapped with a guitar, and to take a look at the guys when they were much younger and less geriatric.