The Rolling Stones
Some Girls: Deluxe Edition
Universal Music Group
To me, 1978’s Some Girls was always the dividing line, the last gasp of the classic Stones. With Mick Jagger at his sleaziest, Keith Richards managing to emerge from his heroin phase to toss off some tasty licks, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts proving once again why they were one of the greatest rhythm sections in the history of rock, and Ronnie Wood doing just about everything else (including slide and pedal steel on tracks like “When the Whip Comes Down” and “Shattered”), the Stones showed both the punk rockers and the disco party people how it was done. This deluxe edition augments the album’s original ten classic tracks with 12 additional songs from the vaults, recently unearthed by producer Don Was.
So here’s the question you’re all waiting for the answer to: if you already have the 2009 remastered version of the album (or any previous versions in various formats for that matter), does the extra disc make it worth picking up the deluxe edition? I say yes, for a couple of reasons. One is a slice of Telecaster twang called “Do You Think I Really Care?” The other is a knockout, “Wild Horses”-style ballad with a great Keith Richards vocal called “We Had It All.” You read that right. Check it out and tell me I’m wrong. Of the bonus disc’s other tracks, there’s a rollicking, early rock ‘n’ roll style number called “Claudine,” a couple of blues-style workouts (“So Young” and “When You’re Gone”), a somewhat generic rocker (“Tallahassee Lassie”), and a decent, B-side quality track called “I Love You Too Much” that marries the groove of “When the Whip Comes Down” to a chorus that seems a tad out of place. The disc is seldom less than interesting, and the hidden gems make it worth the price of admission.
But, then again, those ten original Some Girls tracks are pretty great too, and they’ve never sounded better than they do here. Despite its disco-blues ambitions, “Miss You” is an undeniable Stones classic (curiously missing from this package is the great eight-and-a-half-minute 12″ version, which is worth seeking out). The sleazy groove of “When the Whip Comes Down” is Richards at his finest. The Stones’ cover of the Temptations hit “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)” turns into a great guitar workout, but it’s Watts’ pounding snare that really drives it home.
The still offensive after all these years, misogynistic title track finds Jagger musing about the shopping preferences and sexual proclivities of women of various ethnicities and nationalities as the tune touches on blues and even a touch of baroque pop in the bridge. “Lies” is the bastard stepchild, if not the forgotten gem, of this record. If I’ve listened to this track before this, I don’t recall. Surely I have. At any rate, it does not deserve my neglect. It’s not a bad little rocker. The Stones have certainly done worse.
While I love the chorus, I’ve always found Jagger’s spoken word vocals in the verses of the country parody “Far Away Eyes” too silly and condescending. Can’t help but think if Gram Parsons had still been alive at this point, he would have been able to whip this one into shape. Jagger keens at the top of his range and the Stones lay down another great guitar jam on “Respectable,” which brings the Stones’ marriage of rock and R&B into the punk rock era. While it may be an understatement to say that Richards doesn’t have the greatest singing voice, his outlaw anthem “Before They Make Me Run” has stood the test of time and remains a roughly hewn gem.
“Beast of Burden,” though, is the culmination of the record and one of the Stones’ finest performances. As ubiquitous as it has become in the years since 1978, it still sounds great in 2011. The guitars sound clean. Watts’ undeniable back beat has its own prominence in the mix. My only question is: Does Jagger say “suck a duck” at one point? The icing on the cake is the classic set closer “Shattered” with Jagger at his vampiest, lamenting the fact that he “can’t give it away on 7th Avenue.”
So by all means pick up this deluxe edition for the unreleased tracks. There’s some stuff on here that’s worth hearing. But you may find yourself falling in love with those ten classic tracks from the original album all over again.
The Rolling Stones: www.rollingstones.com