Thursday, 1 October 2009
The Rolling Stones: Unreleased Recordings, 1962 – 1967
Despite still being one of the world’s most popular musical acts, there has never been an official release of studio outtakes with the exception of the 1975 ‘Metamorphosis’ collection (largely made up of Mick & Keith songwriter demos that didn’t even feature the other Stones), nor has there been a collection of their BBC radio performances. There are some signs that this is beginning to change though: perhaps as the group realise that their archive recordings sell better than their new albums they’re now authorising expanded reissues of albums like ‘Get Yer Ya-Yas Out’ & ‘Exile On Main Street’.
My personal favourite Rolling Stones era are those first few years from their rhythm ‘n’ blues origins in 1963 up until early 1967’s vastly under-rated ‘Between The Buttons’ (& prior to their flirtation with psychedelia on ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request’). Below I’ve attempted to compile a list of 50 of the more fascinating unreleased gems from these years, songs that would make a very worthwhile first volume if they ever decide to release a series of ‘Anthology’- type double CDs. Note that I’ve pretty much only listed songs that I’ve heard in their entirety; not any of the several demos that are just available on bootlegs as short snippets, nor any of the other rumoured unreleased material that has yet to surface even unofficially…
1. You Can’t Judge A book By The Cover
(Curly Clayton Sound Studio, London, 27th October 1962)
Mick, Keith & future Pretty Thing Dick Taylor taped some rough home demos together in either late 1961 or early 1962, but this was the first time that the embryonic The Rolling Stones entered a studio. It wasn’t quite the full line-up yet, as the band members at this time were Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Ian Stewart on piano, Dick Taylor on bass & Tony Chapman on drums. Two other songs were also recorded (‘Soon Forgotten’ & ‘Close Together’), but so far only about a minute or so of Bo Diddley’s ‘You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover’ has surfaced via a scratchy acetate that was broadcast on radio in the late ‘80’s. The instrumentation is murky & indistinct, but Mick Jagger is clearly recognisable with his trademark Thames-meets-Mississippi vocals.
2. Diddley Daddy
4. Bright Lights Big City
5. I Want To Be Loved
6. Baby What’s Wrong
(IBC Studios, London, 11th March 1963)
The first time the full classic line-up plus Ian Stewart (then still officially a member) recorded together, this historic session has circulated in fine quality via bootlegs for decades. Surprisingly there’s no Chuck Berry songs yet, though their main other early heroes (Bo Diddley, Jimmy Reed & Muddy Waters) are well-represented. Fairly well recorded for the time though lacking in bass, the most dominant musicians here are Ian Stewart & (on harmonica) Brian Jones, with Keith’s guitar generally taking a secondary role. ‘Diddley Daddy’ & ‘Bright Lights Bright City’ are particularly good & even ‘I Want To Be Loved’ (re-recorded a few months later for the B-side of their first single ‘Come On’) is very authentic-sounding.
7. Come On
8. Memphis Tennessee
9. Roll Over Beethoven
(23rd September 1963: UK radio (BBC) 'Saturday Club') (Broadcast 26th October)
By this time they’d officially become a 5-piece (though Ian Stewart would continue recording & occasionally performing with them right up until his death in 1985) & they had released their first single ‘Come On’, which thanks to several high profile TV appearances had become a small hit. Here they perform the song at a slightly slower speed & it doesn’t have the corny key change that’s on the single (instead it features a short guitar solo) so is probably superior. The other two songs are also by Chuck Berry of course, & while they went on to record better versions of his songs these still remain more than OK. All three songs circulate in fabulous quality thanks to an early eighties BBC rebroadcast, though the other two songs from this session (‘Money’ & ‘Talkin’ ‘bout You’) haven’t resurfaced yet, nor have the three songs performed by the late great Bo Diddley himself & backed by Brian, Bill & Charlie that day.
10. Go Home Girl
(14th November 1963: De Lane Lea Studios, London)
Recorded at a session that produced a couple of songs for their first EP, this is a fine version of a one of Arthur Alexander’s lesser-known songs (they also recorded his ‘You Better Move On’ for the EP so that is probably why this song remained in the vaults). Backing vocals (probably by Bill & Brian) are a little wobbly & off key but this only adds to the song’s charm!
11. It Should Be You
12. Leave Me Alone
(20th - 21st November 1963: Regent Sound Studios, London)
With manager Andrew Loog Oldham’s encouragement, Mick & Keith began writing songs with other artists in mind, though most of their early compositions were derivative “Mersey style” pop that had little to do with their rhythm ‘n’ blues roots. Soon Mick & Keith would record elaborate demos with various session men, but here they utilise the full Rolling Stones line-up. ‘It Should Be You’ is a medium paced song that was reputedly the first that Mick & Keith wrote & was released as an unsuccessful single by the late George Bean, while ‘Leave Me Alone’ is a faster song dominated by Ian Stewart’s piano. Several other demos were made at this two-day session but they remain largely unheard.
13. My Only Girl
(20th November 1963: Regent Sound Studios, London)
Another songwriters demo that featured the entire group, but this one was a success. They’d recently become friends with American singer Gene Pitney who (after changing the melody a little) recorded the song as ‘That Girl Belongs To Yesterday’; released as a single it reached number 7 in the UK charts (or ‘Hit Parade’ as it was called then), therefore becoming the first commercially successful Jagger-Richards composition.
14. Not Fade Away
(10th January 1964: Regent Sound Studios, London)
Surprisingly few alternate versions of released songs from the early years have surfaced so far, but this is one of them. Probably recorded at an earlier session than the single take, this lacks the rhythmic maracas of that version but is compensated by Brian’s harmonica fills.
15. Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby
(3rd February 1964: UK radio (BBC) 'Saturday Club') (Broadcast 8th February)
There is some disagreement over the source & date of this & it may be from a Radio Luxemburg broadcast instead of ‘Saturday Club’, but it’s an unpolished romp through the Jimmy Reed song that’s most notable for Bill’s prominent bass line.
16. Spector And Pitney Came Too
17. Andrew’s Blues
(4th February 1964: Regent Sound Studios, London)
During sessions to complete the recording of their first album both Gene Pitney & his friend Phil Spector dropped in, apparently at the invitation of Andrew Loog Oldham. ‘Spector And Pitney Came Too’ (also known as ‘Mr. Spector And Mr. Pitney Came Too’) is a raving instrumental, similar to (but superior than) ‘Now I’ve Got A Witness. ‘Andrew’s Blues’ (also known as ‘Fuckin’ Andrew’ & ‘Song For Andrew’) is a pornographic improvisation around a similar rhythm regarding the supposed sexual exploits of Andrew Loog Oldham! With vocals by both Phil Spector & Mick this is great fun but of course was unreleasable in 1964.
18. Wake Up In The Morning
(6th February 1964: Pye Studios, London)
In early 1964 The Rolling Stones were approached by Kellogg’s to record the music for a Rice Krispies TV ad (for which they were paid £400), & the result was this 30-secong ditty featuring Mick’s singing & Brian’s harmonica playing. The ad still exists on film incidentally, with two different versions (I have these on DVD).
19. As Time Goes By
(11th March 1964: De Lane Lea Studios, London)
Another songwriters demo that went on to become a big success, though this time featuring just Mick & Keith with various session men (including Big Jim Sullivan on guitar). With a little more work & a change of title to avoid confusion with the 1931 Dooley Wilson song of the same name (as featured in the movie ‘Casablanca’) the song became ‘As Tears Go By’, & was successfully recorded first by Marianne Faithfull & then (in October 1965) by The Rolling Stones themselves, who released it as a U.S. single where it reached number 1 in the charts.
20. Route 66
21. Cops & Robbers
22. You Better Move On
23. Mona (I Need You Baby)
(19th March 1964: UK radio (BBC) 'Blues In Rhythm'. Camden Theatre, London) (broadcast 9th May)
I’ve generally avoided including too many concert or ‘live’ recordings but a handful are essential & this is one of them. The show was recorded for an ‘experimental’ stereo broadcast, but in those days stereo radio didn’t exist so to get around this they broadcast one channel on the radio & the other on TV! Fortunately the entire show has been rebroadcast since on stereo FM radio, so circulates in amazing quality. The guitars could be a bit louder (& those dodgy backing vocals by Bill & Brian are still there) but otherwise these are all fabulous performances with minimal audience noise. Of particular interest is Bo Diddley’s amusing blues ‘Cops & Robbers’ featuring Mick & Brian (the latter on harmonica) at their best.
24. Beautiful Delilah
(13th April 1964: UK radio (BBC) 'Saturday Club') (Broadcast 18th April)
Another radio recording of a song they never officially recorded, this is a popular Chuck Berry song that was also covered by The Kinks. Another radio version (this time recorded in front of an audience) also circulates.
25. Stewed And Keefed
26. Down In The Bottom
27. High Heel Sneakers
28. Reelin’ And Rockin’
29. Tell Me Baby
(10-11th June 1964: Chess Studios, Chicago)
During their first U.S. tour the group visited & recorded at the legendary Chess studios, the place where much of the music that first influenced them was also recorded. Clearly inspired, they recorded at least 15 songs within two days, including the big hits ‘It’s All Over Now’ & ‘Time Is On My Side’, & these 5 superb outtakes. ‘Stewed And Keefed’ is a slow blues instrumental featuring mostly Ian Stewart & Keith Richards, & is also known as ‘Brian’s Blues’ due to the fact that he missed this session because of illness. ‘Down In The Bottom’ is an absolutely belting version of the Howlin’ Wolf classic & remains one of the group’s very finest recordings, while ‘Tell Me Baby’ (also known as ‘How Many Times’) is a fine version of a Big Bill Broonzy song. Perhaps less essential are their versions of Tommy Tucker’s R&B standard ‘High Heel Sneakers’ (also recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis a few weeks later) & Chuck’s ‘Reelin’ & Rockin’ which is re-interpretated here as a medium-paced blues, but these are hardly embarrassments either. BBC radio versions of both ‘Down In The Bottom’ & ‘High Heel Sneakers’ also circulate unofficially.
30. Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind
(Late June - early July 1964: Regent Sound Studios or Decca Studios, London)
Also released on ‘Metamorphosis’, this is a superior early mix of a demo recorded by Mick & Keith for singer Vashti & featuring various session musicians including Big Jim Sullivan, Jimmy Page & Andy White. There’s no steel guitar on this version, & superior mixes are also available of several other demos that were later issued on ‘Metamorphosis’.
31. Crackin’ Up
(17th July 1964: UK radio (BBC) 'Top Gear') (Broadcast 23rd July)
Another BBC recording, a nice relaxed version of Bo Diddley’s ‘Crackin’ Up’ featuring a superb drawling lead vocal from Mick & soulful harmonies by Keith Richards who was by now gaining confidence as a singer & starting to replace Bill & Brian both on records & in concert. The Rolling Stones eventually recorded an officially released version at a live concert in Toronto in 1977 & this very different reggae-tinged version was released on the ‘Love You Love’ double album.
32. Heart Of Stone
(Late July 1964: Regent Sound Studios, London)
Again an alternative mix (without steel guitar & with a longer fade-out) of a track later released on ‘Metamorphosis’. Recorded & released a few months later by the full Rolling Stones line-up, only Mick Jagger plus various session men are featured here (Keith later admitted that he copied Jimmy Page’s guitar solo almost note-for-note for The Rolling Stones version).
33. Blue Turns To Grey
(Late August - early September 1964: Regent Sound Studios or Decca Studios, London.)
A demo featuring just Mick & Keith plus more session men, this was given to The Mighty Avengers who copied the arrangement almost note-for-note. The full Rolling Stones line-up re-recorded the song a year later & it was first released on the U.S.-only ‘December’s Children’ LP. Cliff Richard (with The Shadows) probably cut the ultimate version though, & it was his version that became a U.K. hit single.
34. We Were Falling In Love
(Late September 1964: Regent Sound Studios, London)
One of Mick & Keith’s final ‘Mersey’ style pop songs, this demo is at least recorded with the full Rolling Stones line-up. The circulating bootleg is taken from a rather crackly acetate.
35. Goodbye Girl
36. Key To The Highway
37. Mercy Mercy
(8th November 1964: Chess Studios, Chicago)
During their 2nd U.S. tour (& their first really successful one) they again spent a couple of days at the Chess studios in Chicago, though the results weren’t quite as consistent as before. ‘Goodbye Girl’ (also known as ‘Get Back To The One You Love’) is a rare Bill Wyman composition sung by Mick, & although it’s no ‘Satisfaction’ it’s still a pretty good rhythm ‘n’ blues-pop song. ‘Key To The Highway’ is the Muddy Waters song & sounds more like a ‘jam’ than an attempt at a polished take, & ‘Mercy Mercy’ is a faster but weaker early version of a song that they’d later re-cut.
(18th April 1965: L'Olympia, Paris)
The Rolling Stones performed at the famed Paris Olympia yearly during 1964-1967 with all of their performances being broadcast on the radio, & while the 1964 broadcast seems ‘lost’, the recordings from 1965, 1966 (2 shows) & 1967 still exist & remain amongst the very few complete recordings of concerts from the Brian Jones era. For their encore at the 1965 show they performed an incredible lengthy version of Bo Diddley’s ‘Crawdad’ (also known as ‘Hey Crawdaddy’ though Bo’s song is actually based on an older song whose origins seem to be lost), with Mick alternatively bringing the song down to an almost whisper and then shouting & whooping his way through it.
39. Oh Baby (We Got A Good Thing Goin’)
40. Fannie Mae
(20th August 1965: UK radio (BBC) 'Saturday Club') (Broadcast 18th September)
By now they had pretty much out-grown doing BBC radio shows, so on 20th August 1965 they taped their final 7 songs which were to be broadcast over two shows in the coming weeks. ‘Oh Baby (We Got A Good Thing Goin’)’ is a storming version that puts the Decca version to shame, & Buster Brown’s ‘Fannie Mae’ is a fine rhythm ‘n’ blues performance of a song they never officially recorded.
41. Looking Tired
(6th September 1965: RCA Studios, Hollywood)
Often cited as an ‘Aftermath’ outtake, this was actually taped during the closing sessions for the ‘Out Of Our Heads’ LP. A relaxed bluesy Jagger-Richards song, it would certainly have fit quite comfortably on ‘Aftermath’.
42. 19th Nervous Breakdown
(Early December 1965: RCA Studios, Hollywood)
This uses the same backing track as the released take but features an earlier vocal, which is a bit more hesitant-sounding than the great single version.
43. Mother’s Little Helper
(28th July 1966: Honolulu International Center, Hawaii)
Taken from a radio broadcast, not only was this their last U.S. tour, it was also their last U.S. show to feature Brian Jones. This is the only known surviving ‘live’ version of ‘Mother’s Little Helper’, & although the vocals are a little ragged & the mix could be better it is still a worthwhile performance.
44. All Sold Out
(Early August 1966: RCA Studios, Hollywood)
Several fascinating & crystal clear backing tracks (without vocals) have surfaced from around this time. Other songs include ‘Paint It Black’, ‘Ruby Tuesday’ & ‘Yesterday’s Papers’, but I’ve chosen ‘All Sold Out’ as it is about a minute longer than the released vocal version.
45. Have You Seen Your Mother Baby
(Late August - early September 1966: IBC Studios, London.)
A very different arrangement & mix, this has no guitar & brass intro, but instead starts with Mick’s vocals, as well as featuring more prominent guitar throughout. Keith has said in the past that he thought they released the wrong mix & I would imagine that he’d find this one far more preferable. Also available is a backing track of the single arrangement with no lead vocals.
46. Sometimes Happy Sometimes Blue
47. Get Yourself Together
(November 1966: Olympic Sound Studios or Pye Studios, London.)
The ‘Between The Buttons’ sessions were started in the USA in August-September & then continued back in the UK for most of November though other material was recorded also. ‘Sometimes Happy Sometimes Blue’ is clearly an unfinished composition with Keith just occasionally singing lines & showing the rest of the band the chord changes, but with more work this would become ‘Dandelion’, released as the flip side to ‘We Love You’ in the summer of ’67. ‘Get Yourself Together’ (also known variously as ‘I Can See It’, ‘I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better’ & ‘Can’t Believe It’) is a real lost classic, probably the greatest unreleased song The Rolling Stones have ever recorded! Not to be confused with The Small Faces song of the same name, this is a driving rock (& roll) song with a catchy guitar riff & could’ve been one of the highlights of ‘Between The Buttons’ if released. Also available is an earlier run-through from the August-September sessions as well as a backing track with no vocals.
48. It’s All Over Now
(22nd January 1967: UK TV (ATV) 'Sunday Night At The London Palladium'.)
Although it seems incredible now, during late 1966 & early 1967 The Rolling Stones’ popularity appeared to be on the wane, with lower record sales & less-than-guaranteed full houses at their bigger concerts (perhaps even more remarkably now, the same thing was happening to The Beatles!). So to boost sales of their new single ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’ / ‘Ruby Tuesday’ they performed these songs on the family entertainment show ‘Sunday Night At The London Palladium', as well as ‘Connection’ (from their new album) & a radical re-working of their earlier hit ‘It’s All Over Now’. Using live vocals plus a pre-recorded backing track (taped at Olympic Studios a few days earlier), the arrangement is very reminiscent of the unreleased ‘Get Yourself Together’. Unfortunately footage of the show no longer exists & the audio I’ve heard is only fair quality, but hopefully a better recording still exists somewhere.
49. Get Off Of My Cloud – Yesterday’s Papers
50. Goin’ Home – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
(11th April 1967: L'Olympia, Paris)
Unlike The Beatles who retired from touring in August 1966, The Rolling Stones followed their summer 1966 USA tour with an autumn 1966 UK tour & then a European tour in the spring of 1967, their final tour to feature Brian Jones. As well as most of the expected hits from the previous two years they also performed the above two medleys at all shows on the tour. ‘Get Off Of My Cloud’ starts off similar to the speed-fuelled ‘Got Live If You Want It’ version, but then goes into a very different version of ‘Yesterday’s Papers’ that’s performed in a much higher key than the studio recording, similar to Chris Farlowe’s Jagger-produced single of the song. A few minutes of ‘Goin’ Home’ with some really excellent harmonica from Brian Jones segues into a full-length ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’, which, while Keith is playing the usual riff, features some (barely) controlled Hendrix-styled guitar feedback from Brian!
Just a few days after this show, at The Hague in Holland on the 15th April, Brian played his last full show with the band, & apart from two songs at the May 1968 N.M.E. Poll Winners concert it would be the last time he ever set foot on a concert stage.