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>Just a short preface before I get into the review. For the past year I’ve really been trying to use my iPod not just for entertainment, but as an educational tool of sorts. Pretty much every current album is available to you with just a few key strokes, So I started to look back and discover some of the Classic music that paved the way for the crap we listen to today. And it’s been a real eye-opening journey through the past. So much so that I got an idea for yet another creative writing project. But anyway…

What I’ve learned from my self-educating is that the 60’s is the decade with my favourite music. I’d even go as far as saying the 1960’s was truly the Peak of recorded music when you think about Diversity and Creativity. The 60’s really started out where the 50’s left off, with short sweet and fun radio friendly hits. Towards the mid-60’s, with all that was going on in the country and the British Invasion in full swing, things started to change into more experimental, socially conscious, and racially diverse material. There are a few artists that remained staples throughout the whole decade. Motown, and it’s artists The Temptations, Marvin Gaye and The Supremes stayed really consistent. And The Beatles held their British flag up high through most of the decade.
Today I’m going to talk about The Beatles’ “competitors” in US domination, and clearly that would be The Rolling Stones. I don’t think there is anybody on the planet that hasn’t heard of this group, but I’ll admit I wasn’t very familiar with their music until about 6 or 7 years ago when I bought their most recent compilation album “Forty Licks“. It’s a pretty comprehensive set, but as I’ve discovered more music from the group I realize it only scratches the surface. If you want to get a feel for The Rolling Stones and want to familiarize yourself with their style I might recommend “Hot Rocks 1964-1971“. Than again, if you really just want a taste of what makes them one of the most Awesome bands to ever live, check out “Aftermath“, which to me is one of their very best albums. It also seems like it was a bit of a breakthrough for them. In 1965, the group officially became Stars with the release of their still most popular single “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” which was available on the US release of “Out of Our Heads”, “Aftermath” was released the year after and was the first of their albums with songs written exclusively by the founding members Keith Richards and lead singer Mick Jagger. And really this album tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the Rolling Stones… their style, their attitudes, their personalities, and is also a good peak into their future recordings.
“Aftermath” is one of the most fun albums you will ever listen to. The bulk of the album is very upbeat and infectious from the popular hit “Under my Thumb” to “Stupid Girl” (those two songs go hand in hand, “Thumb” talks about the girl who “once pushed me around” and now has basically turned into his Groupie… and “Stupid” seems to talk about that same vapid materialistic girl “The way she talks about someone else, That she don’t even know herself, She’s the sickest thing in this world, Well, look at that stupid girl”) “Think”, “Its’ Not Easy” and “Flight 505”, songs that are extremely catchy and addictive but also have actual substance to their lyrics matched with very energetic vocals by Jagger, which make them all great sing-alongs.
This album displays other sides of The Stones’ recording style, for instance their love for mock-Country songs like “High and Dry” and “Dontcha Bother Me”. Using heavy harmonica and Country strings, and Jagger doing his best (or maybe purposely comical) American Country singer voice and phrasing. This is the type of stuff they used later in their careers during their famous 4 album streak (1968’s “Beggars Banquet” 69’s “Let it Bleed”, 71’s “Sticky Fingers” and 72’s “Exile on Main St”) of Critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums. And finally this album showed how experimental the group was in using non-traditional instruments and arrangements on classics like “I Am Waiting” “Lady Jane” and the immensely popular “Paint It, Black“.
“Aftermath” is a must-have album if your looking to learn more about The Stones. It gives you a great taste of who they are and who they were becoming. And they haven’t really derived far from the format of this album yet. A Classic album by a Legendary Group.