She Looks Quite Delightfully Stoned

Up and up she goes, our Amanda Jones
I said up and up and up and up
She looks quite delightfully stoned
She’s the darling of the discotheque crowd
Of her lineage, she’s rightfully proud, Miss Amanda Jones

Here’s an LP that I like better than I did a day, or two ago, Rolling Stones Between The Buttons.  I picked up an original 1967 copy of this one back in Christmas 1993, a terrifyingly long time ago if I let myself think about it, so I won’t.

Rolling Stones Between Buttons 01
I’ve always loved the fact that Charlie is the Stone in the foreground here, the bearer of the buttons.

I bought it because I loved the cover and wanted to see what happened album-wise before my holy duo of Beggar’s Banquet and Let It Bleed, oh and because I love the cover pic by Gered Mankowitz, the back cover Charlie Watts cartoon and the round button logo.  My memories of it were that I freakin’ loved the sexed-up swagger of ‘Miss Amanda Jones’ but the rest was a bit meuurgggh*.  Between The Buttons is a better LP than that, but in terms of the Stones best it is firmly in the second rank.  By the way I should point out that my copy is (flutters a flag in your general direction) the UK version, not the US version where they cheated by adding on big hitters ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’ and ‘Ruby Tuesday’.  I love the way they didn’t put the singles on albums at the time, it seems so sweet and archaic now – basically it was just assumed that you would go out and buy them, some of the B-sides are amazing too**.

Rolling Stones Between Buttons 07

As always with an Andrew Loog Oldham production there’s a clever sense of aural chaos lurking around the corner on these tracks and the odd jarring noise, he’s a man I don’t think gets nearly enough credit at times.  For great production listen to the slurred, sloppy ‘Please Go Home’ a straight blues number, turned into something altogether more far out by phasing, reverse flanging and echo-osityness, coming on like a space-age ‘Not Fade Away’.  It makes me feel pleasantly drunk listening to it.  Ditto ‘My Obsession’ which adds some great stoned piano to its Phil Spector girl group beat.

Goddamnit, I love Clairifoil!
Goddamnit, I love Clarifoil!

Bill Wyman said^ that Between the Buttons was the first album the Stones ever worked on, or thought of, as an album rather than a collection of tracks and they just weren’t that great at it yet.    You can hear the Stones reaching around for adornments to their sound and looking for somewhere else to take their beat and blues on Between The Buttons.  Ever-shifting, it was only 11 months later the Stones released Their Satanic Majesties Request*^ and then 12 months later, fuelled by darkness they would stumble across that magic stew of ingredients that would fuel arguably the best 4 album streak ever.

Rolling Stones Between Buttons 05

But we weren’t there yet, so we get ‘Yesterday’s Papers’, Jagger’s vain misogynist kiss-off to Jean Shrimpton, a song I’ve always hated and the soul man-isms of ‘She Smiled Sweetly’, which I can’t decide if I like, or not.  I don’t react well to English whimsy^ and so ‘Something Happened To Me Yesterday’, with its jaunty stripper trombones and Dixon Of Dock Green impression at the end hurts my soul.  I’m also not very sure about the piano on ‘Cool, Calm and Collected’, whether it’s a good thing, or not.

Rolling Stones Between Buttons 04

Brian staring into the abyss / mucking about trying to spoil the shoot
Brian staring into the abyss / mucking about trying to spoil the shoot

The likes of the churning, beat-ridden ‘Complicated’ and ‘All Sold Out’, with its’ flashes of dissonance and nastiness are much better, but really of interest for historians/completists only.  There are some interesting signposts and vapour trails here to show where they would go, but to my mind nothing of any real lasting quality.  That said, crank ‘Miss Amanda Jones’ up again and relive the tale of a socialite going bad and revel I the sheer joy and gusto of Keith’s best Chuck Berry impression.  So maybe I’m back where I began.  As the back cover tells us by the end, ‘the buttons come much nearer / And the Stones you see much clearer’.

Well maybe not, but unconvincing Psychedelic interlude aside, I think this LP did eventually help the Stones see themselves a little clearer, so when Lucifer came calling further down the line they knew exactly where to greet him.

Rolling Stones Between Buttons 08

Rolling Stones Between Buttons 03

568 Down.


* a technical review term, licensed by the Amalgamated Guild of Review Ogres (AGRO) to platinum members.

**1537 fave ‘Who’s Driving Your Plane?’ comes from the Between the Buttons sessions.  If you haven’t got it already I really recommend Singles Collection: The London Years, I’m spoilt, I just taped all my parents ones.

*^I’ll keep my views on this mostly abominable LP to myself for now and stay strictly neutral, like Switzerland.

^in his book Stone Alone which contains a terrifyingly exact count of shows played and shags, even in his own write he really doesn’t come over as the sort of fella you’d want to spend any real time with.

^Welsh whimsy on the other hand is great, yum-yum I can’t get enough of that stuff.

23 thoughts on “She Looks Quite Delightfully Stoned

  1. For some reason I have always thought of this album as “the Stones try to imitate The Beatles and write a bunch of catchy pop/rock songs with colorful production elements”. I know that’s a description that would probably align itself better with “Their Satanic Majesties”, but it’s the way I see “Between the Buttons”.

  2. Very late to the game here, so I’ll just offer that best revisits of less-than-stellar Stones songs by other bands who somehow make them glorious in the process are:

    Montrose version of “Connection” from this album, and
    KISS version of “2000 Man” from your disrespected Satanic…

    Oh, and I love “Back Street Girl” unabashedly.

    1. Two great calls – William Burroughs said (I’m paraphrasing) that great books make bad films and average books make great films – in between babbling about Interzone, centipede flesh and Wild Boys etc etc.

      Maybe the same principle applies for Stones covers?

  3. Or maybe it’s the instant they HAVE reacted to the fat… Keef is blurry as he is heading out of the frame and away from the fart. Mick is saying SHITHEAD and looking mad, Charlie’s thinking “something’s not right here…,” and Bill is about to boak.

  4. Man, this is the second blogging community post I totally agree with today, the second one I wish I had written myself (see J.’s excellent Wee Small Hours post from today). Really, you nailed it on this one. It really is cool to hear where they were at right before their 68-72 bonanza of greatness. Well done, sir!

    I am slightly jealous of your original LP. I have fantasies of sending you the cash to go get me UK originals of all of their LPs… But it’s a bit of a pipe dream, as I have all of the CDs and not the cash to splash around further on things I can already hear…

    I have the LP-sized 3CD box of the Singles Collection (even the book is the size of an LP) and yes, it’s AMAZING! All of you need that set!

    As for the cover, I always figure that, by the look on Brian’s face, he’s farted expansively and the others haven’t reacted/smelled it yet.

  5. With you on that 3 CD London singles collection: best way to listen to early Stones.

    With jhubner (below below) on Beggars to Sticky and the rest.

    With J (below) on Satanic Majesties. Just knew you’d hate it. Pity. It is grossly misunderstood and unfairly pilloried.
    Might just have to write about it. I’ll warn you so you can leave the country.

      1. Witness: the first sound ever recorded.

        I think its a bit crap, could do with better production and wholly derivative. Lady Ga-Ga does the whole thing way better these days and if I owned this I couldn’t really see me listening to it very often. I win.

  6. I like this one. I like all Stones albums though (mostly). I think you can hear what was coming on this one. That being said, I’ve often overlooked this one though … always thought that Their Satanic Majesties Request was the interesting one (though there’s more to this one in terms of songs).

    Also, “… fuelled by darkness they would stumble across that magic stew of ingredients that would fuel arguably the best 4 album streak ever”. Indeed.

    1. Thank you, but NOoooooooo! Re. Satanic Majesties. No, no, no!

      Okay I like 2000 Light Years and the LP cover, but that’s as far as it goes.

      1. Nope. This is another case of you being mad (*cough* Midnite Vultures). While not great, Satanic Majesties is incredibly interesting.

      2. … aye, okay … I just done gone listened to that again … I stand corrected. Interesting. But not incredibly. 2000 Light Years, though. Hurrah!

  7. The four albums you mentioned….those are the four I own and go back to time and time again. The rest of the Stones’ discography I can pick through and make a nice “best of” collection, but I can’t really get myself to dig into the really old records. I tried ‘Aftermath’ and I just didn’t connect to it. You hit the nail on the head, though. The darkness they found fueled some kind of magic swagger in them that gave us four of the best albums made in the last 45 years.

    1. I think it’s interesting just how long it took them to grasp the LP as a thing in its own right; well certainly compared to a certain Liverpudlian band I deliberately didn’t mention here.

      This is a bit of a stepping stone, I hated Satanic Majesties and then in the first milliseconds of Jumping Jack Flash they ascended to Godhood.

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