Punk rock was ‘a kick in the ass’

Keith Richards and Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones in New York, May 1978. (Photo: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Keith Richards and Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones in New York, May 1978. (Photo: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Aside from a few unprintable lyrics that admittedly haven’t aged so well, few Rolling Stones albums have held up like the band’s genre-hopping masterpiece that defies expectations, Certain girls. (Seriously, is there anything as deliciously and decadently sordid as Mick going totally wild at the end of “Shattered,” or Keef stomping his way through his bloozy rebel anthem “Before They Make Me Run”?)

The attitudinal album – which was released 45 years ago, on June 9, 1978 – still sounds gritty, urban and sexy, but it’s also a fascinating document of a turbulent and transitional musical era, when punk and disco were taking over and threatening to render all classic 1960s rock bands obsolete. The Stones responded to these changing times by releasing one of their catchiest, cockiest and downright Stonesy-est albums ever.

“Without a doubt, punks made us look around and say, ‘Oh my God, we’ve been around 10 years already!'” Stones guitarist Keith Richards told Yahoo Entertainment during the re-release. album deluxe in 2011. . “The energy of the punk thing affected Certain girls In many ways. The only problem with punks is that none of them could really play! I loved the attitude, you know, but where’s the music? And that was their disappointment. But otherwise, it was more a question of attitude than anything else. It was all about energy, and it kicked us in the ass.

“I think it was pretty conscious living in the daytime,” said Richards Glimmer Twins counterpart frontman Mick Jagger. “It was a very interesting time for music in New York, where I lived a lot at the time. You had a sort of return to very basic rock music – you know, the Sex Pistols and all that – but you also had the beginning of hip-hop, the beginning of rap, and you had many, many different types of dance music, very different genres of dance music. Early dance music was quite innovative in a lot of ways. So you had a lot of genres, and those overlapped. I think in a way this album reflects part of that era, and I think that’s what makes it an interesting album.

“And the disco stuff, I don’t know, it was just what was happening in the clubs, and you kind of got a beat. And we just decided to do a disco song [the polarizing “Miss You”]”, Richards added. “At the time, it wasn’t necessarily ‘disco music’ for us; it was just another rhythm and blues beat. and the clubs had something to do with it.

Rock purists at the time were horrified that the Stones had sold out and “gone to disco” – a laughable non-scandal now, given the number of rock acts in this current century, from Måneskin and Royal Blood to Muse to the Killers, or just about any band that’s ever released a remix has tapped into dance music. “Purists of all kinds really piss me off,” Richards remarked in his dry, delectable drawl. “Of course, there are some who will think this or that. But it’s their privilege; it’s cool with me. Not everyone will get it the first time.”

“Yeah, I mean, now it’s ridiculous to think about it,” Jagger marveled. “It’s a bit like Bob Dylan going electric, isn’t it? It’s ridiculous to think that people made such a big deal out of it. Now you look back and think, ‘How stupid that was This?’ There were a lot of people who were very narrow-minded about it. For me, I wasn’t educated by rock music as much as blues and soul music, and a lot of that music was dance music. It was specially designed for dancing. You know, I like to dance, so as far as I’m concerned, all kinds of fast songs for me were all made for dancing. So obviously I would be very interested in making dance music. And that particular groove was the groove of the moment. You don’t really play old grooves when you make records; you’re playing the grooves now. And that kind of rhythm was what was happening back then. For some people it was a huge hit, but not everyone liked it.

Interestingly, however, many unreleased tracks from 2011 Certain girls box traffic is not in disco or punk but in the kind of bluesy country-stomp and sprinkled with the famous Certain girls cut “Distant Eyes”. There’s the bar-band rocker “Claudine” (“That one should have been on the original album, it’s a damn good song,” Richards said), the twangy ballad “No Spare Parts” and covers of country classics like Hank Williams’ “You Win Again,” Freddy Cannon’s “Tallahassee Lassie,” and the Waylon Jennings/Conway Twitty standard “We Had It All” (the latter includes the worthy lead vocals from “Before They Make Me Run” by Richards.) blurring genre lines: “We were doing diametrically opposed music back then: dance music on one side, country on the other. We were like jack-of-all-trades here.”

No Certain girls the retrospective would be complete, of course, without a look at the famous album cover. The original cut-out cover, created by Peter Corriston, featured a parody of a vintage wig advertisement, depicting the bewigged stones in drag alongside illustrations by Hubert Kretzschmar of iconic female celebrities like Farrah Fawcett, Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball, Raquel Welch and Judy. Garland. But early album pressings quickly became collector’s items due to threats of legal action from these famous women and/or their estates.

“On the original album, there were old-school movie stars, but because we were stupid and never got their permission, we often restrained ourselves from using them,” Jagger explained. Other versions of the controversial cover were then created – one with generic hand-drawn women, another with 70s celebrities such as Carly Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Britt Ekland and even President Jimmy Carter in drag ( the latter, of course, never saw a commercial release). But the version most fans have in their record collections is probably the one with all the faces removed and a “Pardon Our Appearance – Cover Under Reconstruction” banner crossed out over it (“as if the cover was a Manhattan department store going on renovation”, according to liner notes author Anthony DeCurtis).

vinyl record cover

1978 Rolling Stones ‘Some Girls’ vinyl record cover. (Photo: Apic/Getty Images)

These days, Richards feels nostalgic for the bygone era when album covers like Certain girls and the functional zipper of the Stones sticky fingers were big business. “The meaning of an album cover, it has a thousand uses besides holding a record. You can roll joints on it; you can do all kinds of crap on it. And it was a good size to look at. A CD is a bit small. Miniature. And with downloads, you don’t get coverage at all. So what will Stones fans roll their joints on now? “Damn, I don’t know,” Richards shrugged.

No matter the look or size of its packaging in 2023, Certain girls holds up, and the group is naturally still very proud of it. “It’s one of my favorite Stones albums, I think, because it’s so listenable as an album, and it gets right to the heart of the matter, and there’s no chatter, and it’s succinct,” Jagger said. “He doesn’t flaunt, he gets straight to the point, he has a lot of style and he has that energy. I think it’s all about a really good album. I think it’s underrated. I don’t know where that came from in the notes, to be honest. In My ratings, it comes very high – don’t ask me what number.

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