I'm a drooling Stones fanboy so I'm keeping this short [eta: OH, FUCK ME] or I'll never get any work done (though as much as I'll make a case for their later stuff, even for me the masters for Bridges to Babylon should be dropped in an active volcano; christ, even this apologist hates it).
I love the whole spectrum, from (especially) the days of ripping off Muddy Waters and Otis Redding (who trumped em back with a phenomenal Memphis soul cover of "Satisfaction" -- done on the first take) to Jagger's yanking the band around into whatever the day's fashionable sound was ("Miss You"s only a disco-like track 'cause of the 4-on-the-floor beat Mick insisted Charlie maintain, and half of the SOME GIRLS and EMOTIONAL RESCUE albums are stabs at punk). Fuck, I even think UNDERCOVER's fun as a campy groove.
I will admit I was in love with STEEL WHEELS when it came out, but I was a teenager and just discovering their old stuff, and now I almost never return to it. VOODOO LOUNGE, though, is half to 2/3 fangoddamnfuckingtastic, and, after the Bridges utter failure, A BIGGER BANG is way better than I ever thought these old fucks had any right to be. Still, a good third filler, though; if they'd trimmed it to a lean 44-minute LP-sized album, it'd be up there with SOME GIRLS and TATTOO YOU (the Some Girls outtakes!) as far as plain damn fun. But on the whole, a shallow bit of throwback bar rock; at least they were throwing back to their better days, for once.
Useless trivia from the London Years notes: On the night Brian Jones died, the other Stones were recording a Stevie Wonder cover "I Don't Know Why (aka I Don't Know Why I love You)."
Apparently, there was a lot of pushback to the Taylor influence at the time; fans then weren't taken with the addition of long "self-indulgent" guitar solos -- get to the damn ROCK already! And EXILE ON MAIN STREET just had people confused. It's completely different from any other album of theirs, before or since, and had critics scratching their heads. Here's this massive 18-track double album from one of the world's biggest bands fronted by the world's most infamous rock gods... and everywhere the vocals are buried (and more indecipherable than usual, even for Jagger), the mix is mud, there's horns and pianos and chorus singers clogging up almost all the tracks, it jumps from rockabilly to Mississippi blues to gospel, sometimes in the same damn song... It took people a while to figure this fucking thing out. Even now you'll hardly ever hear singles from it on the radio.
The song "It's Only Rock and Roll" started out as a Ron Wood song he was knocking around for Rod Stewart's next solo album (Wood was pretty much the unsung hero of his old Faces frontman's successful early solo career); he started jamming with Keith one time and they knocked it around, but neither had any lyrics but the chorus. Wood said, "Sure, take it to Mick" -- probably already angling for Taylor's spot, which was looking to open up sooner rather than later. Mick did his thing (Jesus, do I miss the guy who wrote poetry like "Wild Horses") and yadda yadda yadda, boozy rocker becomes one of the great rock anthems of the 70s.
One of the reasons Mick Taylor was getting bitchier with the band and his role in it and eventually walked, he felt he wasn't getting enough credit on the albums. Almost definitely true (but man was he killing the goose). Then on the Stones' first album without him, BLACK AND BLUE (too often overlooked), Ronnie Wood (who was apparently "auditioning" while the album was recorded) gets an "inspired by" credit. No hard feelings, Taylor!
Tripling the love for Charlie Watts. For fans of pretty much just the '68 to '72 run (and seems like most here are) get your hands on the live albums in between. GET YER YA-YAS OUT! is a live masterpiece, IMO. If the only version of Sympathy for the Devil you've heard is the album track, get this immediately and sink into the James Brown-esque beat Watts lays down throughout. The man replicates the layers of percussion instruments used in making the studio track so iconic with what sounds like, maybe, a 5-piece kit. On the minimalist end on the scale of drummer styles (Pert, say, way over on the other end), Watts is non pareil.
One of my most prized possessions is a poster I found in the back of some record shop 2 decades ago; it's a simple blowup of a b&w photo of a very young Keef, full shot. He's wearing an unzippered hoody with the hood up, hands in its pockets, cig in mouth, glaring blankly at the camera, leaning back with his hands pulling the jacket open, revealing a tight T-shirt over his skinny frame that says "WHO THE FUCK IS MICK JAGGER?"
I need very badly to have this signed by one or both Glimmer Twins before springing for the framing. If anyone can make this happen, my eternal soul is an option for trade.