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Published: 2011/12/07
by Brian Robbins

The Rolling Stones
Some Girls - Deluxe Edition

The Rolling Stones
Some Girls – Deluxe Edition (Universal Republic)

The Rolling Stones
Some Girls Live In Texas ’78 – Soundtrack (Eagle Rock)

The Rolling Stones’ 1978 release Some Girls was the band’s big middle-finger response to the notion that they were going to be run over by the younger lions of the burgeoning punk scene – that is, if Keith Richards’ heroin habit didn’t take care of things first. Richards was in that dark place where even if he was able to escape the clutches of his own habits, the law already had made a claim to him. A 1977 bust at Richards’ hotel room in Toronto had left his future – and that of his band – very much up in the air. (His trial wouldn’t take place until October of ’78.)

These were the circumstances that Some Girls was created under between the fall of 1977 and the following spring. And the result was one of the best albums of their career – certainly the best since Ron Wood joined the band in 1975. We’re going to take a peek at two recent releases from that period of the Stones’ history: the “Deluxe Edition” of the reissued Some Girls album, and the soundtrack to Some Girls Live In Texas ’78, available in the newly-released DVD of the same name. Though they are two separate releases from two different labels, they are actually two chapters of the same story – and both are worth having.

Some Girls – Deluxe Edition

The newly-released Some Girls is a two-disc set: the first is a newly-remastered version of the original album, while the second is bonus material (ala last year’s Exile On Main Street reissue).

The remastered disc contains nothing shocking sonically; one of the best things about it is that none of the original grit was lost in the process. An obvious element of the album is Bill Wyman’s bass playing. Though it’s not often referred to as such, Some Girls was an adventurous album for Wyman – from the country lope of “Far Away Eyes” to the disco swoop of “Miss You” and the churn of “Respectable”, Wyman was dead-nuts-on. Some Girls represents he and drummer Charlie Watts at their best team-wise.

Which brings us to Disc 2 of the Deluxe Edition: 12 bonus cuts from the original Some Girls sessions that have been bootlegged in various forms over the years but never officially released.

Here’s my question: this stuff’s been in the can for over 30 years and it’s just being doled out now? These songs were left on the shelf while Emotional Rescue, Undercover, Dirty Work, and (go ahead – pick one of your own) were offered up over the years as the best the Stones could do at that particular moment in time? What were they thinking?

Sweet loving Jesus: was everybody on heroin?

Granted, some cuts are weaker than others, but as an album, Disc 2 of the Some Girls reissue owes no apologies to anyone and stands on its own two feet quite well, thank you. Again, as they did with the Exile treasures offered up last year, Jagger and Richards revisited these tracks, adding everything from dashes of guitar here and there to completely new lyrics and vocals. There’s hours of entertainment here for the hopeless Stones fanatic to dissect each track into “old Mick” and “new Mick” parts or whatever, but the fact remains – this is simply a great Stones album, regardless of where the parts and pieces all came from. It’s just a ring-tailed pisser that it took this long for it to all happen – but here it is.

Out of the gate, “Claudine” is a total romp in the vein of “Turd On The Run”, featuring great boogie-woogie piano by the late Ian Stewart. There are blues galore to be found: from the jailbait raunch of “So Young” to the kiss-off of “When You’re Gone” (skwonking Jagger blues harp all snarled up with the guitars) to the bold strut of “Keep Away Blues” (more nasty harp).

There’s just plain effing rock ‘n’ roll: “Tallahassee Lassie” may be a cover, but the Stones own it before they’re done (with some fine piano by Stewart along the way) and the heart of “I Love You Too Much” is some textbook open-G riffing by Richards.

And there are tunes that are straight from the Stones’ country hearts: “No Spare Parts” glides on the back of lovely pedal steel by Wood, while Jagger does ol’ Hank Williams proud on a cover of “You Win Again”. The best of the lot – and perhaps the whole disc? A youthful-sounding-but-soulful-just-the-same Richards leading the way through a cover of “We Had It All”. The arrangement is a simple one: piano, a little bit of guitar here and there, Wood’s pedal steel (perfect), bass, drums, and some gentle harp work by guest Sugar Blue (who blew the wild-ass hooks on “Miss You”). “Before They Make Me Run” is always thought of as Richards’ anthem of the time; Disc 2’s “We Had It All” came dangerously close in its own way.

The second disc is worth the price of admission all on its own – it truly is the great lost Stones album. The best thing to do is get over being pissed about the core tracks being buried all these years. They’re here now.

Some Girls Live In ‘78

If cranking out the original Some Girls album in the studio proved that the Stones were still capable of being a great rock ‘n’ roll band – if not the greatest – the tour that followed was even more critical. Could they pull it off live, without a net?

Damn straight, they could. And Some Girls Live In Texas ’78 is living proof. The soundtrack to the DVD release of the same name (which we’ll also be reviewing here on the site), these 17 cuts capture that feeling of the Stones rebounding off the ropes, shaking off the darkness, and letting loose with a blast of fierce power and the perfect mix of rawness and precision.

Name your poison: homage is paid to Chuck Berry, of course – both with covers (“Let It Rock”, “Sweet Little 16”) and with Stones tunes that aren’t too shy to show their roots (“Star Star”, “Respectable”). The band takes a swing through Exile On Main Street with “All Down The Line” (Ronnie Wood knowing enough to stay clear of Mick Taylor’s licks and carve his own way through a blistering slide solo), a majestic Keith romp through “Happy”, and a rumbling, rocking “Tumbling Dice”. They lay into the grooves of “Brown Sugar”, “Honky Tonk Women”, and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” like it was fresh meat rather than already-proven greatest hits. And “Love In Vain” is as full of ache as any live version you’ve heard, thanks to another stellar slide workout by Wood.

At the core of this disc are seven songs off the then-brand-new Some Girls album: “When The Whip Comes Down”, “Beast Of Burden”, “Just My Imagination”, “Miss You”, “Shattered”, “Respectable”, and “Far Away Eyes” – offered in a steamy, sweaty clump.

Of the lot, two tracks stand out in particular. This version of “Whip” is the Stones rising to the challenge of the NY punk scene and doing a magnificent job of out-imitating the New York Dolls imitating the Stones. And “Miss You” is 8 minutes and 36 seconds of some amazing Bill Wyman bass work anchoring what might be one of the best Richards/Woods snake dances on record. We’ve all heard the “ancient art of weaving” phrase too many times over the years, but this is the example to put in a time capsule – it really and truly is.

The simple fact of the matter is, these two releases together do a great job of documenting a period where the Stones could easily have been high-sided – both by themselves and the changing world around them. Instead, they faced it all head-on and triumphed.

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