Love the Rolling Stones? But...why?

Warning: Rolling Stones fans enter with caution! Of all the classic rock British supergroups, why do the Rolling Stones roll on and on, often recycling the very same sheet music into another blathering bunk? At best, their earliest works were adequate. And, somehow they mastered mediocrity turning it into a cash cow (who should be led to the slaughter). What is the fascination with this group? I mean, how can the Stones hold a candle to the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, or the Who?

Maybe I should start a thread: Pair-up all the Rolling Stones songs that sound identical because they are! (Listen especially to the intros to their newer material c. 1980’s+ and I am certain you’ll hear what I mean.)

Sorry, Stoners, but the band should have started gathering moss 20 years ago.

  • Jinx :frowning:

First of all, Jagger and Richards were one of the top rock songwriting teams. Admittedly, they’re going on reputation these days, but through their first ten years, they were at the top, and for their next ten years, they still could put out better than average output.

I don’t think the Stones are up to the Beatles, but they are neck and neck with the Who and much better overall than Led Zep.

And they have a carefully cultivated “bad boy” image that became an archetype in rock. Since they were the innovators, they may superficially look less interesting to those who imitated and refined it. See Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics; your reaction is exactly as McCloud predicts.

Finally, Jagger is a dynamic and exciting stage performer.

I am not a Stones fan, I like a lot of their earliest work. Songs recorded back in the Sixties when I was too young to know who they were. Most of their music since then has been crap to me. They have a few songs I love but again all were recorded in the Sixties.
I think this means I am a Brian Jones fan and could care less about the rest of the group. He was a better guitarist than Keith and the creative force early on.

Why are they still going, I think because they want to. If the Who wanted to never stop touring and writing, people would still be buying their CD’s and tickets also. Anything Paul McCartney does is likely to sell. The Dead did not stop until Jerry passed away. Certain groups/people are just Rock Icons. The Stones are the Rock Icon that has never slowed down or stop.

I heard the lead singer of the Counting Crows say a few years back that The Stones are older than your parents and will still Rock harder than any of us younger groups.


Jinx - well, yeah, the Stones fired their last great shot 20+ years ago - I would argue for Some Girls, others for Tattoo You, etc. - but to argue that, on that basis, the Stones are no good is incredibly limited in perspective.

Listen to their early stuff - the first stuff they wrote after simply doing blues covers - and you hear great 60’s pop. Mother’s Little Helper, 19th Nervous Breakdown, Get off My Cloud, and on and on and on - and that is kinda the point; they had a TON of these hits and they hold up nicely - sound a bit dated, but no more so than other great songs written during that era.

But for the **Big 4 albums - Beggar’s Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street ** - please. They are often cited by rock critics and historians as the best run of albums in that time frame by anybody.

  • Gimme Shelter?
  • Sympathy?
  • Brown Sugar and Can’t You Hear me Knockin’? (as a guitarist, the open lick on Can’t You Hear Me is one of the best things I have ever heard)
  • The entirety of Exile - which is respected not only for the individual songs but for how it all hangs together perfectly - almost like a concept album of good bluesy-rock songs…

The Stones took the blues and brought it to a disapated, Swinging London, pop-culture place that made the music more mainstream and new in its own way…

It may be cool to claim you don’t like the Stones and of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I am more inclined to think that the dissenter hasn’t really listened…

I really like a lot of the early Stones and regard much of their stuff as classic (“Honky Tonk Women” and “Street Fighting Man” are particular favorites). But I’ve never been a fan, and it does look to me like they’ve been coasting for at least a quarter of a century. They should have had the good grace to fade a long time ago; instead they’ve chosen to milk it for all it’s worth and have become something of a joke.

This is where you lost me.

To me, the Stones rank up there with Pearl Jam, U2, and Aerosmith as the completely overrated stars of their respective decade that I still admit wrote a handful of decent songs. I also give them credit for being hard rock pioneers. This doesn’t mean that nearly all their song aren’t total crap.

Back in the 1960s there was a big split between Beatles fans and Rolling Stones fans. This was based almost entirely on attitude, so from this distance it not only looks ridiculous, one wonders how it ever could have happened. I guess you had to be there.

Even at the time, though, even when the Beatles were godlike in stature, and the entire world stopped when one of their albums came out, something that did not happen for any other group, you could have made a good argument that at their peak the Stones were better songwriters and most especially lyricists.

I’m going to agree with WordMan (and who ever thought I’d write that? :smiley: ) about the Stones’ peak. “Gimme Shelter” (with Merrie Clayton wailing like Mick was still in bed with her), Sympathy for the Devil," “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” (check out the wonderful story “Standing in Line with Mr. Jimmy” that James Patrick Kelly wrote inspired by the song).

And the early stuff - check out their first greatest hits album - is up there with or beyond the other 60s super groups, like The Who and the Kinks.

Yeah, they stopped innovating decades ago. So did everybody else from that time. Yeah, the Beatles are still the best group. That doesn’t mean everybody else is only adequate or mediocre. Everybody has a best period. This is true for all artists in all genres, not just rock or music. That’s also what we remember them for, not the lesser works that surround the peak.

I’ve never been a visceral Stones fan. But I can’t help but recognize their excellence. Or their continued professionalism, even when they aren’t exciting. Or their side work, which is often better than the current albums. One example, The Charlie Watts/Jim Keltner Project, fascinating and often compelling music. Good stuff.

This is an excellent point. Apples to apples, why would anybody like Paul McCartney? His output the past twenty years is probably worse than the Stones.

The riffs the Rolling Stones have been repeating are older than they are - it’s twelve bar blues. You may as well ask any blues singer why all their stuff sounds the same.