The Rolling Stones - Aftermath - Review
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critics' view

1966 was very much a progressive year for music in general, with phenomenal song writing growth in evidence all around from the finest pop and rock group’s both sides of the Atlantic. The Stones were certainly players and were hard at it. “Aftermath” was the first LP in their cannon which wholly consisted of Jagger / Richards originals. Furthermore, Brian Jones played a variety of instruments not usually associated with their music, including sitar, Appalachian dulcimer, marimbas, and Japanese koto, as well as guitar, harmonica and keyboards.

With this in mind, and based on past evidence, they should have been right up there with The Beatles, The Kinks and The Beach Boys but, in my opinion, they’re found wanting in this year’s class. The excellence of album opener “Mother's Little Helper” suggests the Stones are with the programme; it’s an indian rocker dealing with the houswife diazepam craze which is sweeping the nation. “Stupid Girl” immediately follows and although it’s ok, we’re suddenly 18 months back in time with the R n B beat group thing, and it’s a bit of a b-side example at that. The perfectly lovely “Lady Jane” contradicts again – it’s a sure fire sign that a thoughtful and creative group are at work. “Under My Thumb” keeps up the invention – bet it sounds good on the dancefloors of ‘66. “Doncha Bother Me” jumps back to the blues rock vibe – it might not be progressive but it’s as cool as a freshly pulled pint in a homely tavern, and Mick’s acrobatic vocal is completely ace. Finishing side 1, “Goin’ Home”, is touted by some as being a breakthrough simply for busting through the 10 minute barrier. Well, as Frank Zappa demonstrated on this year’s “Freak Out!” aimlessly noodling on an uninteresting bed is a complete chore for the listener and a massive turn off. Similarly boring is “Flight 505”, which opens side 2. This is nothing more than a practice-session Chuck Berry mess-around, stretching about for a new rock beat. Should have kept it in hand for the session out-takes reissue in 25-years-time.

Best on side 2 is the magnificent “Out of Time” – despite sounding a bit rush-released and bare-boned it shines like a diamond and would be fully realized and immortalized by the Chris Farlowe treatment within the next few months. The album is dogged with inconsistency – and this is underlined on “What To Do”, a dumb country rocker, which is one of the worst things to have appeared on a Stones LP to date. It’s their “Love Me Do”. That they thought this would be a worthy finale at this stage of their development raises much doubt as to cool credentials. For all my moans and groans, I still rate and care for “Aftermath” – although a ten track artistic statement might have fared better than a 14 track “value for money” job…

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