When you call yourselves “The World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band”, you must have a ton of confidence as well as musical ability. Luckily for the Rolling Stones whom bestowed this title upon themselves, they have both. To me, the Stones are the original “alternative” music. Their experimental rock style flirted with the blues and even reggae at times, but no matter what it produced timeless songs, many of which became hits. When they premiered in the 60’s, many found the band a welcomed change from the vanilla ultra-pop Brits the Beatles. While most of their tunes are well-known, there are ten Stones songs that are the cream of the crop and have been widely covered by other musicians or used in advertisements or movies over the years.
In 1964, on their “12 X 5” album was “Time Is On My Side”. This particular song was not written by the Stones, but it reached number 6 on the U.S. charts. Originally, this song was recorded by soul singer Irma Thomas, proving the Rolling Stones “blue-sy” roots.
The next year, 1965, the Stones released the “Out of our Heads” album that produced a super-hit that rose to number one on both the U.S. and U.K. charts. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is still one of the Stones’ most recognizable tune to this day, but when it was first released it was considered a bit risquÃ?Â©. In fact, when the group performed it on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1966 the line “trying to make some girl” was censored. Much later, both Britney Spears and Devo covered this tune.
In 1966, the Rolling Stones had another number one hit on their “Aftermath” record with “Paint It Black”. While it is a depressing song, it has made some impressive royalties being re-used a number of times. Unfortunately, the Stones don’t own the rights to the song. Their former manager, Allen Klein, got paid when it was used at the end of both films “The Devil’s Advocate” and “Full Metal Jacket”.
Again in 1967, the Rolling Stones made “Ruby Tuesday”, a song featured on their “Between the Buttons” album, and it went to number one in the U.S. On the track, band member Brian Jones plays the recorder. Jones, the lead guitarist, who died in 1969, could play virtually any instrument. The song is about a groupie, but no one knows if it was someone specific.
The “Through the Past Darkly (Big Hits, Vol.1)” album came out in 1968 and featured the new song “Jumping Jack Flash”. It was successful for the Stones, reaching number one in their native U.K. and number 3 in the U.S. Later this was covered by Aretha Franklin in 1988. Her cover was produced by Stones member Keith Richards who also played guitar on the track. However, Franklin’s version was not as successful and only reached number 21 on the charts.
The 1969 release from the “Let It Bleed” record named “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” did not chart well. However, it was definitely significant, as it was released the day after lead guitarist Brian Jones died. On the track there is a chorus of children from the London Bach Choir. There were 60 choir children singing but their voices were doubled so it would sound like there were more of them. In 2004, Coca-cola used this song for their C2 commerical.
The 1971 release “Bitch” did not chart, but mostly because of its racy title. It appeared on the “Sticky Fingers” record that had a cover designed by pop artist Andy Warhol. The Goo Goo Dolls covered the song in 1997.
The last of the Rolling Stones’ number one hits is “Miss You”, their 1978 release featured on the “Some Girls” record. The lyrics were instigated by front man Mick Jagger’s relationship with wife, Bianca, that was going sour. Blues legend Etta James covered this song on her 2000 “Matriarch of the Blues” effort. Rap icon Dr. Dre also remixed this track for one of the “Austin Powers” movies.
In 1981, the Stones reached number two in the U.S. and number seven in the U.K with “Start Me Up” from their “Tattoo You” album. Originally, the band attempted to record this song years earlier with a reggae beat, but couldn’t make it work. Later, they found the right music and this hit was born. In 1995, the Microsoft Corporation paid 10 million dollars to use this song in their advertising campaign for Windows. The Rolling Stones also performed the tune at halftime in Detroit at the 2006 Superbowl.
While “Rock and a Hard Place” only reached 23 on the U.S. charts, the song was put out at a very symbolic time for the Stones in 1989 on the “Steel Wheels” album. At that time, both Mick and Keith had released solo efforts and were fighting. This was also one of the last recordings with Bill Wyman, the Stone’s bass player, who left the band in 1992.
It’s not a question that the Rolling Stones have put out a number of great tunes that are extraordinary and even progressive at the time. However, I believe that with less drugs and fighting we could’ve had even more great hits from these rock legends. I guess “you can’t always get what you want”, but there are plenty of their old classics to enjoy from the Rolling Stones.