For a Greatest Hits record from one of the bigger bands in history, this starts out badly, with the brutal amateurism of "Time is On My Side", "Heart of Stone" and "Play with Fire".
God, these guys are bad ... listen to the faltering rhythm, the missed licks, the crude singing. A lot of musicians say they were inspired by The Beatles' early U.S. shows, but I'm surprised a lot more didn't listen to the Stones and say 'Hey, anybody can play this shit'. And the lyrics to "Play with Fire" are apparently intended as some sort of scathing put-down, but they include the lines Now she gets her kicks in Stepney, not in Knightsbridge anymore
. Spare me the cruelty!
This collection then takes a huge turn upward with "Satisfaction", one of the greatest rock and roll songs ever, then sinks back again with "As Tears Go By", an amazingly insipid number, then right back to the heights of inspiration once again with "Get Off My Cloud", which is powered by a fantastic drum line and an entirely groovy verse melody. Consistency was not this band's strong point.
Sides Two and Three (on the CD reissue, which is vastly expanded over the original vinyl release ) are fabulous, with one hit single after another that either rocks furiously or grooves melodically, or both.
My faves are "Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown" (which for a long time I thought was about 'ceiling wax' because I wasn't familiar with sealing wax
), "Under My Thumb" (hate the lyrics, love the marimba), and "Let's Spend the Night Together" with its swinging piano and shrewdly deployed billyclubs (the story is that when the bobbies came in to raid the studio for drugs, the producer got them to beat out the middle section's rhythm with their nightsticks while the stash was flushed).
by Reviewer: Steve Knowlton
(blogging at Steve's Record Reviews