PERFORMER: THE ROLLING STONES
SONGWRITER: MICK JAGGER / KEITH RICHARDS
YEAR OF RELEASE: 1968
COMMENTS: The devil went down to London. He was looking for a soul to steal. He was in a bind 'cause he was way behind, and he was willing to make a deal. Then Mick and Keef mugged him and took his jewelry and credit cards.
You might think of this as Robert Johnson after attending self-esteem classes. The glimmer twins took the deepest, darkest blues legends about making deals with the devil and took the logic to the wall. Jagger casts himself in his ultimate dream role as Ol' Scratch, bragging on all his historic victories, then and therefore demanding respect for his power and influence. Countless stupid heavy metal bands later this in-league-with-the-devil stuff may seem cliched, but in 1968 this was a bold and visionary position.
Satan dances a joyous victory dance through the ruins of human civilization. The whole impact of this celebration of the power of evil is built first of all on its success as a dance track. First praise as nearly always must go to Charlie for those congo rhythms and maracas and such. His percussion track here in itself should qualify as the greatest ever recorded musical celebration of voodoo rights, human sacrifice etc. Also, those climbing and agressive bass lines from Mr.
Wyman really put the rock drive into the mix.
The combination of instrumental colors is pretty awe-inspiring. Start with the basic rhythm section just described, then add some honky tonk piano. Then there is Keef expressing Satan's personal joy through the famous razor sharp shards of guitar solo. And don't forget the frenzied, high pitched "woo-wooooo" vocal harmonies from the natives.
On top of all this is Mick as an exceptionally articulate and expressive devil who, let us say, really enjoys his work. He is articulate not just in his choice of words, but in the melodic development and precision, the care taken in picking the exact right phrases and pauses to tell the tale for maximum impact. For example, note the melodic emphasis as he sings "So when you see me, have some SYM-pa-thy. Show some COUR-te-sy, and some TASTE."
You know, when a magic man like this comes along, the only thing you can really do is follow him and become his willing servant.
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