Saturday, January 18, 2014

Readers' Write (10): True or False? Their Satanic Majesties Request by the Rolling Stones is Criminally Underrated.

While Karen and Doug are on vacation, our readers are setting the day's topic of conversation.  For our "True or False?" posts, the first commenter can pose a statement.  Of course, it should be somewhat controversial, and you of course do not have to believe the statement yourself.  The goal here is to stimulate some lively conversation.  In the past we've had conversations such as - "Rock is dead." and "Fantastic Four is the World's Greatest Comic Magazine."

Thanks for keeping things moving during our break!

Matt Celis says that Their Satanic Majesties Request is a criminally underrated album from the Rolling Stones.


Doc Savage said...

Their Satanic Majesties Request is criminally underrated and stands among the best Rolling Stones albums if one listens to it with unbiased ears.

J.A. Morris said...

I wouldn't say it's "criminally underrated", but it has some of my favorite songs. '2000 Light Years From Home' is great and overlooked, 'She's A Rainbow' is my favorite Stones song.
And I'm also a fan of their other "psychedelic" songs of the era, 'We Love You' and 'Dandelion'.
And 'Satanic Majesties' is a sentimental favorite of mine, when I was a kid it was the only Rolling Stones album my parents owned, it served as my introduction to their music. But I haven't listened to it in years and never bothered to get is as a CD. So yeah, not as bad as critics say, but not a great album either.
When I want to hear 'She's a Rainbow', 'Dandelion' or '2000 Light Years', I'll just put on Through The Past Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2).

Doc Savage said...

Don't forget Citadel, Lantern, 2000 Man...I'll take those over anything by the post-'72 Stones. Thus I say it's at least a Top 5 Stones LP.

Graham said...

I've only heard it a few times. I always thought it was sort of a response to Sgt. Pepper (which I don't particularly care for, the older I get), but I have to admit that it was a risky change of pace from their usual blues/R&B-based rock and I admire them for moving out of their comfort zone and actually doing a good job with it. I see it in their Top Ten at least.

I agree with Matt that most post-'72 Stones material is a pale imitation of what came before. I think other things became taking priority over the music by then except for a few nice moments in the late 70's and early 80's.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't put it top five. One of their best? I went to look to see if I had it on my iPod and to my surprise, I do. No plays, but, yeah it's their.

If we're gonna start talking criminal, then we have to get lawyers involved and then there's hearings and depositions and suits and countersuits and he blogged and she blogged and it becomes a great big hassle.

I will say this about that, I vote FALSE but I respect your right to like it way more than I do.

(Okay, show of hands, who thinks Doug was starting to have a hissy around 8:45 am CST?)

The Prowler (still doing what I was doing since 2013, December 2013).

Karen said...

I say false. I don't think the Stones were suited to psychedelia. As much as they may try to deny that they were playing catch up to the Beatles in the 60s, I think they did take a lot of cues from them, and it shows, especially with this album, which was ill-conceived. It does have a few songs on it that I think are legitimately good, like "2000 Light Years" and "She's A Rainbow," although the latter is still a bit too 'My Little Pony' for me.

I think their best era came right after this album. Those albums they put together from 68-72 (Beggar's Banquet, Let It Bleed,Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street)are one of the best runs,maybe the best run, by any rock band.

Edo Bosnar said...

I like the album well enough, but I guess I'd say false to the question. Mainly because I never got the impression it was "criminally" underrated. I know it was pretty harshly panned by certain critics when it came out, but my general impression is that over time it garnered respect from fans and critics alike, despite (or maybe because?) it was rather experimental and unlike anything the Stones had done before or since.
Also, I don't necessarily agree with the post '72 thesis entirely, just because I really, really like Some Girls - that one's certainly in my top 5 Stones albums (together with a few of the albums Karen mentioned above).

Anonymous said...

Goat's Head Soup and then it all came to a crashing halt with Black and Blue. I think Some Girls saved their career and their legacy. (I used the correct "their"!!!!) Edo, have you heard the 2CD re-release of Some Girls?

JAN SMITHERS!!! There, I said it. The beginning and ending of any list of criminally under rated.

Okay, I'm gonna go sit down now.

The Prowler (still ibid-ing).

Karen said...

I think Some Girls was the last good Stones album (and ironically, it was the first 'new' Stones album I bought). I do think they put together some good stuff post 72 -there are good tracks on Goat's Head Soup, and It's Only Rock and Roll; I'm not that fond of Black and Blue.

I consider the 'Mick Taylor era' to be the best musically/creatively for the band. I think Jimmy Miller was a big part of it too. Taylor's skills brought so much to the music; it's a shame he doesn't get the credit he deserves. Also the influences of country and funk that came into the music, while the Stones got back to their R&B roots, really made for a unique sound.

Anonymous said...

I'll say true b/c I don't own it and have never listened to it.

Though admittedly, while I like a handful of Stones songs, I am not a big fan and don't know their deep cuts.

Doc Savage said...

I find that in the rare occasions when I put on Goats Head Soup I end up skipping a majority of the tracks. It's Only Rock'n' Roll is the same way and the best song (title track) sounds like poor man's T Rex. After that, I like about 2 songs on Some Girls and 2 from Tattoo You.

david_b said...

Ah..., Matt.

As comfortable in my manhood as I am, I could proudly french kiss 'ya, right here and now.

Whaaat an excellent topic today..!!

The subtitle for today's topic should be 'When the Stones became Spinal Tap'....

As you can already tell, it's an album of considerable charm to me, and with all the backstories I could bore you all with regarding the making of this particular album, it would fill a few blogs.., just from what I read over the last 30some years of Stones love, especially circa Brian Jones's final years.

Criminally..? No. Much like the 'White Album' which received only mixed reaction when it was first released, time (and revisionistic reviewers) have been good to this concept album.

I tend to look at it as a 'majestic, beautiful failure'. Buuut, that's not meant as a slam at all, just as a objective view. I personally find it the 'least dated' sounding album of the entire Stones catalog. You can certainly date 'Aftermath' and even 'Exile'.., not a bad thing, just stated as matter-of-fact. And it's one of my favorite albums of all time, file under the category of 'Guilty Favorites'. Well, with that riff for 'Citadel'.., not that guilty. Probably one of the most memorable Keith riffs ever recorded, on par with the opening of 'Can You Hear Me Knocking'.

I remember first getting into the Stones early in college by getting my older brother's hand-me-down 8-tracks and albums. 8-Tracks were great in the late '70s because everyone was trying to get rid of 'em quickly, so you got so many great deals. TSMR (instead of typing 'Satanic Majesties' all the time..) was one of the 8-tracks, and when I was coming off the sedation medication after having my wisdom teeth taken out back in '82, I put that 8-track on and had it playing repeatedly for hours. Just a cool psychedelic way to sleep off sedation.

As for the album, like most, the background stories are more interesting than the album is itself.. I know most of the band didn't think it would ever get done, with Mick, Keith and Brian in and out of jail all year. If you ever saw the video for 'We Love You', banned in England initially because of Brian looking SO STONED during his parts.., I imagine it was a lot of how the sessions probably were. They just didn't know who would be showing up.

david_b said...

Wow.. I actually had to split my response here into a 2-parter to get it posted, never had to do that.

Now Side 2 of david_b's response:

This was a mixed blessing for a few reasons..:

1) Andrew Oldham was finally kicked out. Good manager, but the Stones got sick of him in the producer's box, soon to be filled by the great Jimmy Miller.

2) The laxed creative efforts by Jagger-Richard gave ol' Billy Wyman a chance to shine, AND become a single.

3) You hear a lot of great Nicky Hopkins on piano, who took over for Stu and you got more and more Nicky during 'the great years'. The thing about Nicky is that he played more 'chord-style' not individual notes in his style, perfectly laying down foundation to a lot of the more serious Stones tracks to come.

4) Actually this is one of their biggest selling albums, suspecting a lot of music fans bought it for it's Pepperesque potential, who wouldn't normally buy Stones albums. I believe it outsold 'Magical Mystery Tour' but not sure.

5) As a pure 'concept album', it basically outdoes 'Pepper'. While Pepper's more decidedly a collection of pop songs, TSMR stretches the concept album more into tribal/electronics/british culture. Ridiculous at times (Bill Wyman's snoring caught on tape, 'We wish you a merry christmas' electronic doodling.., 'On With The Show'), it would be great if the band themselves thought of it in higher regard. Part of it's underrated status plays to the very nature of Jagger/Richards being in the role of 'cosmic pioneers', which you have to suspend some belief to visualize.

On the subject of whether acid played a debilitating factor in the lack of creative success, one critic wagered that perhaps they 'didn't take enough'.....

It's still subject of debate about Brian Jones's role here. Obviously he was well into the sitar/Morocco jajouka influences, but being the consumate bluesman, he reportedly hated the album as commercial tripe instigated by Jagger to stay popular with the current hippy trends. For all his exotic contributions, it's confusing that Jones would argue the blues-purity card, but I dunno. Smarter heads can figure that out for me.

If you wanted a truely artistic, 'listen-to-it-wasted' album, I'd be more prone to listen to Zappa's send-up 'We're Only In It For The Money', complete with it's own Pepper cover.

As for the album itself, my fav tracks are 'Citadel', Bill's 'In Another Land', the Sing This instrumental, 'Gomper', '2000 Lightyears' and 'On with the Show'. Aww heck, they're all great tracks in their own way. I wish 'Dandelion' would have been included, but I love the album as is.

'Gomper'. What a title, but honestly, once you listen to the track.. what else would you call it..?

I've been listening to the early take of '2000 Lightyears' called 'Title 12' without vocals.

Just an awesome track just to play loud as background muzak.., you hear much more of Keith's gritty-metal rhythm guitar in the mix.

Overall, a cosmic masterpiece, which would soon herald in more sci-fi offerings like Paul Kantar's Heinlein-inspired 'Blows Again The Empire', which was one of the first albums to be nominated for a Hugo in 1971.

And c'mon, who doesn't love a 3-D cover..? A great cover to frame in anyone's music room.

One of my Top 5 favorite Stones albums, in my Top 10 of any album.

david_b said...

Prowler makes a great suggestion..

Can we have a JAN SMITHERS Day..?

She made those big glasses, shy studious demeanor, and bangs so sexy.

Doc Savage said...

What David B said, mostly! It's actually the Stones album I play most often.

Fred W. Hill said...

I'm a bit mixed on this as while Satanic Majesities has several great songs and I'd rate as a good album but not one of their best. I used to have the vinyl lp, with the hologram cover -- alas, it was among my albums damaged by termites (they ate the cover and the residue stuck to the lp) when I had them in storage while I was stationed in Greece. I do have the cd version, along with 15 other Stones' studio releases, as well as the vinyl Hot Rocks collection and a cd collection of all their singles released by London Records (up to 1971). The most recently released Stones' release I have is Steal Wheels, which has several great songs, but I'd agree with Karen that Some Girls is their last all around great album. Still, Mick & Keef are both 70 years old now and they wrote several of the indisputedly greatest rock songs of all time before either of them were even 30! Their glory years are long behind them, but if they want to keep on going until their bodies fail them, well, more power to them, although I wouldn't be among the crowd to pay $100 or more to see them live.

david_b said...

Some further thoughts, no worries, won't be as long as before.

Despite it's compliment of a couple kick-ass songs, to me TSMR comes off better when viewed as 'a concept album' in entirety.

Much like Ziggy Stardust, The Wall, Dark Side, Pepper, Exile, etc, I like the actual 'fabric' of the entire album. It actually is adventurous, more so than earlier (or some later albums) because it actually 'takes you somewhere', as a concept album should.

I'd agree with Matt it's probably played moreso than other Stones albums (perhaps as much as Exile, Sticky Fingers, Beggars) just because of the overall feel.

If you look at it more as a fun, playful album instead of the stoic 'definitive artistic statement' or whatever, it comes off better.

In other words, my advice to those dismissive critics.., 'Lighten up'.

Agreeing with others, anything post-'Exile', I'll listen to, but typically it's 2-3 good songs off each album.

Even 'Some Girls', I basically prefer playing only Side 2. Except for 'Voodoo Lounge', I stopped listening to any Stones album in entirety after 'Undercover', which was the one-and-only 'new' Stones album I ever went out and bought when released.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I've heard "Satanic Majesties Request" in its entirety; I always liked "Beggars Banquet" and Sticky Fingers"...and I thought "Some Girls" was pretty good too (I love "Far Away Eyes")

And I wholeheartedly agree with prowler/david_b's comments...I always thought Jan Smithers was way more attractive than Loni Anderson!

Mike W.

Doug said...

No hissy fit from me, Prowler-man. I was at school keeping the scorebook for some freshmen basketball games. I didn't even see that this had blown up until six hours after it went live. You all are pretty good (with the exception of a couple of days ago) -- it's bound to get rolling sooner or later!


Graham said...

I forgot to answer the question of the day.....False. :)

I do like some of their post-'72 work.....Some Girls, Tattoo You, Steel Wheels, etc...and assorted songs from other albums, but I think Exile was their last great entirely great recording.

Agreed with the comment about the 70-year olds still going at it, too. Even at their age, they're still better than 90% of the cookie-cutter crap that's out there now.

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