Welcome to Club 27
James J. O'Meara
Brian Jones & the Myth of the Rolling Stones
Brian Jones: The Making of the Rolling Stones
New York: Viking, 2014
“He was really trying to pass the buck, as was his wont. I wasn’t interested. ‘No. get in there, mate, this is your baby.’” — Christopher Gibbs, quoted in Paul Trynka, Brian Jones: The Making of the Rolling Stones
“You rarely find both courage and genius in one human shell. It is not strong enough to contain both those volatile ingredients. One or another will eat its way out, and carry the victim away. And victim is the proper word. How dangerous it is to be supremely intelligent.” — Calder Willingham, End as a Man
Last time we looked back at the music of the ’60s, we found, when looking behind the scenes of America’s counter-culture headquarters, Laurel Canyon, a whole bunch of spookiness, of both the CIA/military intelligence and occult type.
Now, no sooner do I pick up this book, to read about, well, as it says, Brian Jones and the making of the Rolling Stones, and damned if we’re not plunged right back into spook land.
Fortunately, Trynka is less interested in conspiracy theorizing than McGowan; neither spooks behind the rise of the Stones nor the death of Brian.
The JFK-style industry of conspiracy theories . . . perpetuated the image of Brian Jones as a corpse, which is a scandal, for it has overshadowed and obscured the legacy of Brian Jones as a musician.
Right from the start, Brian was more than adequately screwed up to account for his career implosion and ultimate demise.
Cheltenham, Brian’s birthplace, was a quite, eminently “middle-class” (in the Brit sense, our “upper middle” or preppie) town, but as usual appearances were deceiving. It was here that the British relocated their military intelligence operations, no doubt as a reward for their successful wartime code breaking. And the leading employer, including Brian’s father, was military secret-level aerospace engineering. And as that other icon of postwar British espionage and technology, James Bond, has taught us to expect, where there’s spies, there’s high tech and hanky panky.
Thus, well-respected (as Ray Davies might say) Cheltenham was the UK’s leading origin, outside of the teeming immigrant quarters of London, of illegitimate births, a local industry to which Brian would do his utmost to contribute.
At the same time, the immensely popular mayor, future confidante of “Baroness” Thatcher, was a flaming poof, who was driven around town in a white T-bird convertible, driven by a chauffeur sporting a mauve uniform.
People, even among the Stones, often expressed puzzlement over how someone as avant garde and even decadent as Brian Jones could emerge from such a staid, “conservative” and “middle-class” (in the Brit sense, our “upper middle” or preppie) town as Cheltenham. As Trynka shows, Jones — from sexual promiscuity to sartorial indulgence — was in fact the ultimate representative of everything Cheltenham stood for: “Secretive, exotic, futuristic, sordid, elegant, decadent and artistic.”
So far, Brian seemed to fit in quite well, excel, really. What eventually created Brian’s personal “generation gap”, as it came to be called, was personal: asthma, which ended his athletic pursuits — the only ones that count at public schools — and was given the usual treatment at the time — learn to play a wind instrument; and generational — the American imports of jazz and, in the “the Year Zero of the teenager,” 1956, rock ’n’ roll.
“Brian Jones turned into a wild child” says Trynka; we would say, “wild boy.” More dramatically, “one person uses another term that crop up later: ‘the devil.’”
At first, the devil’s music was jazz. The impact of jazz on an earlier group has been documented by the Angry Young Men themselves, such as Colin Wilson and Kingsley Amis. For Amis, the appeal lay in its very primitive and crude nature itself, a chance to throw off middle class repression, if not White civilization itself: “No white man can play jazz without a feeling of shame” he wrote, approvingly, to fellow enthusiast Philip Larkin.
There was no such “morose delectation” for Brian’s generation, however. But it would be misleading to take the more usual, pedestrian interpretation, as Trynka does, of some sort of all too understandable delight in vastly superior negro music-making. As Baron Evola observed in his contemporaneous reflections, and as I have attempted to reiterate in my own writing on music, Western music has long ago lost track of its “origins” in ecstatic dance ritual, and that youth should turn away from it is a positive step; we should only regret that, lacking proper guidance, they have turned to primitive foreign traditions rather than their own.
Such a process of liberating dissolution in the realm of music might have a positive aspect. One could well approve of a revolution that has caused [classical music] to appear out of phase, heaving and false. . . . Jazz is undeniably an aspect of the resurfacing of the elemental in the modern world, bringing the bourgeois epoch to its dissolution. Naturally, the young men and women who like to dance to jazz today do so simply “for fun” and are not concerned with this; yet the change exists . . . its true meaning and possibilities could only be noted from the particular point of view employed by us. . . . [W]hereas some of the present youth merely seek to dull their senses and to use certain experiences merely for extreme sensations, others can use such situations as a [means of transcendence].
Now, this is not special pleading for our boy Brian. As Trynka notes, without — lacking as he does Evola’s “particular point of view”– quite grasping the ultimate implications, Brian was indeed not just one of those teens that “like to dance”:
When the music first hit Brian . . . immediately . . . started to work out where this music had come from; he investigated all the rawer country records that had fed into rock ’n’ roll, including Johnny Cash . . . Brian learned about Leadbelly . . . this was . . . one of the factors that inspired him to acquire a guitar, around the winter of 1956. . . . he learned more about trad jazz and more modern jazz. He devoured all this music, obsessively, as if it were a code to a new way of existence. Which of course it was.
We can see that while Brian certainly enjoyed drugs, sex and rock ’n’ roll (the first two to an extent rarely recorded in the annals of decadence), he was neither a gyrating teenybopper nor a tedious “blues purist” like an Eric Clapton, but rather a man who had picked up the clue that there was another music, and thus another way of life, and was determined to follow it as far as he could: past “trad jazz” to the rural music known alternatively as “country” and “blues,” and, during his time with the Stones, the olde English music at the roots of both, and ultimately even more “primitive” sounds like the Master Musicians of Joujouka, making him, as Trynka and his interviewees point out frequently, a pioneer of what later became known — and commercialized — as “world music.”
I’m presenting Brian, then, not as what we today would call a “whigger” but quite the opposite: a white youth seeking, in a Faustian manner, his Aryan roots. So it’s not surprising that simultaneously with the burgeoning of his musical obsessions there came a transformation of his appearance, from gawky geek to cherub: with “blond hair cropped short, high cheekbones and fine features;” “lovely ivory skin and blue eyes.”
This is the Brain Jones who created the Rolling Stones. As Trynka exhaustively documents, the Rolling Stones were entirely Brian’s creation.
It was Brian ones alone who had a vision, that raw electric blues could appeal to the youth of Britain rather than to a narrow circle of bohemians.
It was Brian who first searched out the early music of Robert Johnson . . . Brian who persuaded his fellow Stones of its potency, and Brian who showed Dick Taylor and Keith how to play in Open D, Open E and Open G strings.
He stood out as the one with a mission, a manifesto, and as the “most intelligent member of the group” (Chris Hutchins, NME)
As the interestingly named Jack Nitzsche, who “performed most of the duties George Martin took on with the Beatles,” says, “He’s the real Rolling Stone. The one who’s not just happy being in a blues band. The adventurer.”
That this isn’t the story we all know is the result of the more or less conscious destruction of Brian Jones from within and around the band, followed by some forty years of mythologizing or. Less grandly, covering up. While it certainly seemed to be A Good Idea at The Time, and for a short while thereafter, forming the band was Brian’s first, fatal misstep.
That said, another meme we should expect to find — again, without Trynka’s awareness, which I think makes he all the more valuable as a source — is that of the Aryan pioneer brought down by Judaics; in Brian’s case, first their manager, promoter and self-styled (but inept) producer Andrew Loog Oldham — their version of the Beatles’ Brian Epstein — and ultimately New York moneyman Allan Klein — their version of the Beatles’, well, Allan Klein.
Brian was a complex man. He had a lot of hang-ups, but starting the Stones and making his kind of music was his dream. Then Andrew Oldham came along and once Jagger, Richards and Oldhan got together, Brian’s group was rapidly taken away from him. (Amazon UK review)
Trynka, writing for a mainstream publisher and hoping for a good review in the New York Times, clearly won’t highlight, or perhaps even notice, the Judaic angle. However, as we’ve seen before, as Judaic power increases and solidifies its hold, it become increasingly open; so we leave it to the Judaic media to connect the dots the goyim aren’t allowed to even notice; the Forward openly boasts of “another cultural triumph”:
Building on the lessons he learned as a protégé of Brian Epstein — the Jewish owner of a record store in Liverpool, who turned that city’s most popular bar band into the international sensation known as The Beatles — Andrew Loog Oldham, also Jewish, soon took over management of The Rolling Stones, reshaped their image, and steered them toward a broader musical palette. . . . In 1966, Oldham turned over management of the Rolling Stones to a Jewish accountant from New York named Allen Klein.
Although Trynka details the extensive and successful efforts of Mick and Keith (known to many as “those cold cunts”) along with Oldham and many others to isolate, exclude and ultimately expel Brian, it’s fitting that the initial casus belli should be Brian’s naïve idea that he should get an extra five pounds a week for, you know, being the creator of the band:
There was nothing hard to explain about the first step in Brian’s’ downfall. It all came down to money. . . . That five pounds was symbolic for Stu; already disenchanted with Brian, it embodied Brian’s slipperiness; for Keith, it was a betrayal of their gang mentality; and for Mick — well, it was five pounds.
Eventually things would be so turned around that Brian would become the helpless vassal, “entirely dependent on funds from Allen Klein.”
The official reasons, apart from Brian’s increasing loopiness and unreliability, (as well as his role as police and tabloid magnet for drug busts, itself indicating the outside world’s perception of him as the key Stone), was his curious inability to write songs for the band.
Gered Mankowitz: “He simply wasn’t able to write material for the band.” Andrew Oldham suggests a simple reason: “You can’t write popular music looking down on it — and that’s what he did.” Trynkas also suggests that “Brian lacked what other emerging songwriters, like George Harrison, possessed: a supportive environment.”
And the one lesson Oldham has learned from Epstein was that songwriting, and the royalties thereon, was where the real money was. It certainly wasn’t about art, but commercial rights:
Oldham’s innovation wasn’t in getting the Stones to write, it was in marketing the Jagger-Richards brand as a rival to Lennon-McCartney.
In point of fact, no one in the Stones really wrote songs. Keith might have a riff, usually more or less derived from Chuck Berry, Mick might have an idea, Charlie would contribute a jazz-derived bit on the drums, etc.
What Brian could do was simple but all-important: “make Keith and Mick’s song sound better,” as in “The Last Time”– “the spiraling insistent guitar melody that made sense of the song”; or “the haunting keyboard riff” on “Play with Fire,” even the marimba that redeems the crudeness of “Under my Thumb.” As Wayne Kramer says, “Brian was the one individual who understood tone colour. His sense of tone colour was magnificent, that’s how he’d think out of the box.”
The result of Brian’s contributions was a series of “mid-period” LPs that not only represent the “classic” Stones but also present an unprecedented and unsurpassed portrait of the dark side of ’60s world of international youth, money, women, and drugs.
For many fans (read: me) the climax of all this was the awesome, autumnal, crepuscular magnificence of side two of Aftermath. While side one highlights the cartoonish misogyny of Jagger/Richards — “Stupid Girl,” “Under My Thumb,” “ Mother’s Little Helper” — side two could almost be a roadmap for Brian’s indecision and decline:
Flight 505 (ending with a plane crash, years before Tommy)
High and Dry
Out of Time
It’s Not Easy
I Am Waiting
Take it or Leave it (“. . . it’s just my life.”)
What to do (“I really don’t know. . .”)
To which of course we could add the non-LP tracks “Ride on, Baby” (“By the time you’re thirty gonna look sixty-five/You won’t look pretty and your friends will have kissed you goodbye”), “Sittin’ on a Fence” (“Maybe the choice you made wasn’t really right . . .”), and of course, “Paint it Black.”
With its Eastern pentatonic scale rather than the straight European classical scale of Norwegian Wood, integrated the new sounds into a wider blues context, and anticipated an understanding that we’ve attained only recently, of how much modern blues-derived music has roots in North Africa.
Of course, this didn’t go over well with the lager louts:
Andrew Oldham and Keith Richards saw Brian’s’ investigation of ethnic music as an affectation, a diversion — a distraction from playing guitar. He was “pretentious,” says Mick Jagger, the devotee of Georgian chinoiserie.
Frankly, one wishes that Trynka spent more time on the music itself, rather than the documentation of all the dreary infighting, necessary thought it may be to setting the record straight. But in the end I’m glad to see him pass the same judgment I always have: the Stones may have made some great music over the next few years, but it was all part of the parabolic trajectory they owed to Brian Jones:
The Stones made some great music without Brian, with Sticky Fingers (1971) an unqualified masterpiece, and Exile on Main Street (1972) a magnificent, sprawling epic. But they were working on a kind of residual mojo, and a massive quality drop-off soon followed.
One might suspect that the black magic “mojo” was good enough for only a couple albums, but also for another 40 years of “celebrity.” Who, indeed, would have thought that Mick Jagger would be knighted, and Keith Richards would outlive John Denver or Karen Carpenter?
Now here’s where all the occult spookiness comes in. Not the fashionable dabbling in Crowleyism and what not, but something I’ve highlighted in several of my film reviews here at Counter-Currents. Behind the Judaic exploitation of the managers and the Teddy Boy squabbling of his bandmates is a more profound meme: passing the buck
Despite his musical genius, personal charisma, and Aryan mentality, Brian simply lacked the instinct to find a fall guy, which — as Bogart’s Sam Spade would have known — was essential for surviving the viper’s nest that was the Stones. Into that vacuum stepped one Michael “Mick” Jagger.
While Marianne denies there was anything directly diabolical about Mick, she realized belatedly that by tapping into the essence of Brian Jones and Keith Richards, Mick would prove irrespirable to Anita, the woman who had love them both.
A few people today, Marianne Faithfull in particular, theorize that Brian’s death left his old bandmate Keith free ‘to become Brian’—to take his persona, adapt and improve it. In that light, the BBC [1989 production, The Rolling Stones in Morocco] is rather disconcerting, as Jagger, Richards, and Ronnie Wood retrace Jones’ footsteps and interactions with the Moroccan musicians Jones famously visited and recorded back in 1967, with little acknowledgment of Jones at all. In one sequence filmed inside their host’s home, Jagger is shown a small shrine dedicated to his former bandmate and he barely reacts, quickly turning the topic of conversation to Byron Gysin.
As the last quote hints, the lines of Brian’s musical trajectory and personal decline meet when he discovers the archaic trance music of the Master Musicians of Joujouka, Morocco.
Like others before him, such as Brion Gysin and William Burroughs, Brian had finally “found his music” (as Gysin would put it in his own case). Like all traditional music, the music of Joujouka is part of a ritual context, which many have speculated is related to the Roman Lupercal, the rites of Pan. Inter alia, a goat is sacrificed, its meat feasted upon, and some young boy is dressed in the salted skin and set loose, rampaging among the hills, frightening the womenfolk: Great Pan is alive!
On Brain’s visit, the goat in question turned out to be of the purest white, and the shaggy haired Stone immediately shouted “It’s me!”
Was Brian resigned to his fate, like the little grey [sic] goat he’d seen led in front of him as the tbels [ritual drums] thundered?
All this is nicely documented by the sequence in Goddard’s film, Sympathy for the Devil (itself a Brian-style inspired mess), as Jagger tries to teach the song’s basic chord sequence of “one of Jagger’s finest compositions” to . . . Brian freakin’ Jones, now “a sad, lost figure, barely comprehending . . . Mick had taken Brian’s’ tricks, Brian’s obsessions, Brian’s’ chaos, and turned it all into great art.”
Brain’s Faustian search for his Aryan music roots had, like many others of his generation, started — in a superficially paradoxically enough way — with the more authentic music of the American Negro, in particular, Robert Johnson. Those who turn away from respectable, Christian culture in search of more ancient knowledge are perceived to be of the Devil’s party (he who has the best tunes, after all). Like Robert Johnson, Brian had sold his soul to the devil; like him he would die at twenty-seven.
Brian Jones got many things wrong in his life, but the most important thing he got right, for his music was world-changing.
By the end of the book, Brian, for all his failings and failures, takes on an almost mythical apotheosis:
He formed the band, he named the band, he taught Keith Richards Open G tuning, and he taught Mick Jagger how to bring a girl to orgasm. Like his inspiration, Pan, Brian Jones may be demonized but his music plays on. Not in his old band, but in the sounds, the magnificent panic, which he unleashed on the world. For the battle between Pan and Apollo, ecstasy and elegance, the magnificently flawed and the imposingly perfect, goes on forever. We bow our head to Apollo, but we should all have sympathy for the devil.
Jack Nitzsche, if not Nietzsche, would approve.
1. See “Allen Dulles’ Lonely Hearts Club Band: The CIA & the Construction of the Sixties Counter-Culture,” my review of Dave McGowan: Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & the Dark Heart of the Hippie Dream (London: Headpress, 2014), here.
2. The book appeared in the UK with a far more vitriolic title: Sympathy for the Devil: The Birth of the Rolling Stones and the Death of Brian Jones (Bantam, 2014) which also emphasizes that there are two foci here: Jones as the Original Stone (asked over the phone “Like the Rolling Stone?” he suavely replied “I am the Rolling Stone”) and Jones as the founding member of the infamous 27 Club (rock stars who have died at or around 27 years; see the rather creepily illustrated website, The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock & Roll, here. ), sacrificial victim, and ally of Satan.
3. “The official coroner’s verdict on Brian’s death was perfunctory and lazy . . . [but] I’ve come to share their belief that Brian’s death was most likely a tragic accident. . . . Many of the existing theories that his death was in fact murder rely on unreliable witnesses.” For the pro-conspiracy view, see Brian Jones: The Inside Story of the Original Rolling Stone by Nicholas Fitzgerald (Putnam, 1985). Fitzgerald, a Guinness heir (like Tara Browne, who “blew his mind out in a car” per John Lennon), bases his inside knowledge on having had a rather close, uh, relationship with Jones, so there’s that. Fitzgerald is the source for Jeremy Reed’s own speculations in his hagiography, Brian Jones: The Last Decadent (Creation, 1999).
4. Book Bond predates the Beatles, of course (he seems to dig the Ink Spots), but movie Bond was at first a bit anachronistically hostile, comparing warm champagne to “listening to the Beatles without ear muffs.” Perhaps a little alpha dog? Anyway, Oddjob whacks him on the head with the aforementioned warm bottle, and next thing you know, McCartney is writing Bond themes.
5. As in America, where the lower-class but patriotic Bible Belt excels in illegitimacy and divorce (again, with the proviso, “outside the inner cities’).
6. As we’ve noted, contrary to the Left’s “gay” mythology, homosexuality was quite open in the bad old days, at least among the better classes. See my review of The Noel Coward Reader here and reprinted in The Homo and the Negro (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2013).
7. Taking pleasure in the contemplation of ones sinfulness — itself a sin! — was a key term for Huysmans and the other Decadents; see Ellis Hanson, Decadence and Catholicism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 1997).
8. See “Modern Music and Jazz,” Chapter 23 [!] of Ride the Tiger: A Survival Manual for the Aristocrats of the Soul (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2003; published in Italian in 1961).
9. See “My Wagner Problem — and Ours” and “Our Wagner, Only Better: Harry Partch, Wild Boy of American Music,” both reprinted in The Eldritch Evola . . . & Others (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014)
10. Evola, op. cit., pp. 160-65.
11. For rock music as a “code” for both youthful rebellion and ecstatic transcendence, see Erik Davis, Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica (Portland, Or.: Yeti Publishing, 2010) and my review here.
12. Who famously quit the Yardbirds precisely because they had a hit record, only then to make money hand over fist with his own “super group” Cream, and then, in the 70s, forge a career providing music for dentist offices. Speaking of Cream, Trynkas sources a number of quotes from Ginger Baker, whose musical genius and exploration of African and “world” music offers a more long-lived parallel to Brian; see the documentary Beware of Mr. Baker ( Jay Bulger, 2013). “Brian Jones was the main man in the Stones; Jagger got everything from him. “
13. One of the lessons of Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music (Folkways, 1952 ) , which sparked the whole “folk” movement, was that the music of “the old, weird America” was neither country nor blues, and it would be hard to tell, from one recording to another, whether the artists were white or black. Similarly, Brian studied not just officially “black” performers like Howlin’ Wolf and John Lee Hooker, but even White performers like Tennessee Ernie Ford, who by the ’60s would already be thought of as laughable yokels fit only for Hee Haw.
14. Gregory—before he was Pope—was presented with some slaves in the market-place in Rome, with “fair complexions, fine-cut features, and beautiful hair.” On being told they were Angles, he said, “That is appropriate, for they have angelic faces, and it is right that they should become joint-heirs with the angels in heaven.” Bede’s History of the English Church and People (bk. 2, sct. 1). “Then there was the fact he was blond — there are all thse tropes you can tie into it.” — Ken Kubernick, teen fan.
15. Brian, shortly before his death, was ordering something by phone; when giving his name, he was asked “Like the Rolling Stone?” To which he replied: “I am the Rolling Stone.”
16. See my discussion of the exemplary roles of Halston and Peter Gatien in “From Ultrasuede to Limelight: Aryan Entrepreneurs in the Dark Age” here, and reprinted in the forthcoming Green Nazis In Space! (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2015)
17. “The Secret Jewish History of the Rolling Stones” by Seth Rogovoy (The Forward, June 3, 2014), online here.
18. “The Stones have always been surrounded by hangers-on — gangster types and drug dealers — rather than friends.”
19. “Brian was much more of a musician than Jagger will ever be — although Jagger’s a great economist [alluding to Jagger’s time at the London School of Economics].” — Ginger Baker.
20. Again, “The Stones have always been surrounded by hangers-on — gangster types and drug dealers — rather than friends.”
21. Bill Wyman’s only contribution, “In Another Land,” the worst song on their worst LP, made Ringo Starr sound like Cole Porter.
22. Relieved only by Brian’s dulcimer/harpsichord arrangement of “Lady Jane”; even the titular Stupid Girl is ultimately described as “like a lady in waiting to a virgin queen.”
23. With typical impudence and effrontery, the Forward article even claims “Paint it Black” for the Jews: “Paint It Black” was an attempt to jump on the bandwagon of raga-rock initiated by The Beatles and The Byrds, with Jones experimenting on sitar. What came out, however, sounded more Middle Eastern or even Eastern European. More than one modern-day klezmer band has covered the song, whose minor-key scale is remarkably similar to some of the Yiddish modes. . . . Richards himself acknowledged the song’s debt to Jewish music, telling Rolling Stone magazine, “It was a different style to everything I’d done before. . . Maybe it was the Jew in me. It’s more to me like ‘Hava Nagila’ or some Gypsy lick. Maybe I picked it up from my granddad” (Rogovoy, op. cit).
24. “For comparison’s sake, at the time when Brian was immersed in the world of Robert Johnson, hitching round the South West to find someone who would let him share a stage, Mick Jagger was enchanting mums in the front rooms of Dartford singing songs by Buddy Holly.”
25. A well-known and well covered event; see Robert Palmer, “Jajouka: Up the Mountain.” Rolling Stone, October 14, 1971; Jajouka Rolling Stone: A Fable of Gods and Heroes by Led Zeppelin hagiographer Steven Davis (New York: Random House, 1993), or the materials collected in the booklet accompanying the 1995 Point music CD re-release. BTW, the names “jajouka” and “joujouka” alternate for the usually tedious reasons of copyright, alleged exploitation, etc. Although Trykas and others make much of Brian as a pioneer of “world music,” it should be noted that the original LP (posthumously released as Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka, Rolling Stones Records, 1971) barely qualifies as an anthropological document. While clearly he couldn’t present the whole three day ceremony, the excerpts themselves are heavily “produced” by Brian himself, including various “phasing” effects to convey a “trippy” effect. Some have said that Brain may have felt that the general public was not ready for “full strength acid blast” (Patsy Stone, Absolutely Fabulous) — which is undoubtedly true — but as Trykas’ account of Brian’s last, unfulfilled idea of some kind of “super group” that would include Joujouka music overlaid with a Memphis R&B rhythm section — hardly what Burroughs meant by calling them “a four thousand year old rock band” — shows, Brain, like most Faustian explorers, was less interested in notions of “authenticity” than in absorbing native materials for his own projects. Those willing to take the risk should sample, at least, the 1992 Apocalypse Across the Sky disc from Island/Axiom, although that brings up the aforementioned problems of the “authenticity” of the modern day, media-friendly troupe of Master Musicians.
26. “That madness, that tension, is what makes bands. They use that negative energy, transmuting it into something else. It goes from lead to gold” (Sam Cutler).
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Not Angles, but Angels, hey?
There is so much good in this review that I will not partake of particular paragraphs, but merely remark that, to judge from the review, the book seems a decent antidote to the crap we’ve received from so many commercial journalists. Both Shaun Levy and A. N. Wilson reached their nadir when trying to praise the the Stones as “authentic” Brit-bluesmen.
Stones were nothing of the sort. They weren’t wiggers or wannabe-negroes. They had another school altogether, one of their own creation.
I never bought into this “Brian Jones was the real Rolling Stone creator” story. For a simple reason: all the great and important Stones songs were written by Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. Fact. If anyone, Keith Richards was and is the prime and defining genius of the Stones. Brian was a catalyst and a talented musician at best, and he was surpassed by far his fellow bandmater very soon.
Of their four greatest albums 1968-72 Jones only played on Beggar’s Banquet and two songs on Let it Bleed. He might have created the band and given it its spirit but I think Mick & Keith just grew more in the late sixties whereas Brian became distracted by other things.
Jules and Petronius,
Fair enough points, but I would suggest folks read the material Trynka puts together to address them. For example, how much J/R actually “wrote” of songs credited to the brand “Jagger/Richards.” As for Richards, even he admits someone else had to teach him to play the blues, he just changed his story from Brian to Ry Cooder. He even admits now that the “Satisfaction” riff was lifted from the same year’s “Dancing in the Streets” [Detroit, hooray!]
For the rest, it’s perhaps a question of emphasis or perspective — surpassed, or exploited, assimilated and tossed aside. Isn’t it interesting that everyone seems to agree that the Stones stopped being really interesting circa 1972? That’s what, 42 years now? And if J/R had already “surpassed” Brian by then, why have neither of them been able to produce a solo record in that time? All of which is covered by Trynka’s “trajectory” idea.
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