Rolling Stones 39108
Producers: The Glimmer Twins
Track listing: Miss You / When the Whip Comes Down / Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me) / Some Girls / Lies / Far Away Eyes / Respectable / Before They Make Me Run / Beast of Burden
Though the Rolling Stones scored their sixth Number One album in 1976 with Black And Blue, the band was beginning to have trouble living up to its legacy as “the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band.” For starters, punk rock had exploded in England with bands such as the Sex Pistols and the Clash targeting the Stones as washed-up dinosaurs. Worse still, guitarist Keith Richards was arrested on February 27, 1977, at the Harbour Castle hotel in Toronto for possession of 22 grams of heroin and five grams of cocaine. A charge of trafficking in heroin would loom over Richards’ head for the next year and a half.
In spite of the misfortune, or maybe because of it, when the Stones regrouped at Pathe-Marconi studios in Paris in September 1977, the group was re-energized. Perhaps the potential of a Richards prison term gave the group the urgency of knowing that this could be their last album for a long time; perhaps they just wanted to show the punks that they could still rock. In any event, the result was Some Girls, the band’s finest album since Exile on Main St.
“It was a great time,” says engineer and mixer Chris Kimsey, who first worked with the Stones engineering Sticky Fingers with Glyn Johns. Adding to the mood was the studio environment. The Stones started working on the album in the demo studio and opted to stay in that room because Kimsey and Richards preferred the sound, even though it only had a 16-track soundboard and Mick Jagger favored the main studio.
“The atmosphere was more like a live show,” says Kimsey, “because a lot of people would come down to the studio and mill around. The studio was actually like a big soundstage with a whole bar area set up, so it was a very relaxed informal atmosphere.”
During the sessions, which ran approximately six months, more than 42 songs were recorded. Several of the songs that didn’t make Some Girls would later surface on such subsequent albums as Emotional Rescue and Tattoo You. For example on the same day the Stones cut “Miss You,” they also laid down “Start Me Up”, which showed up on Tattoo You.
“‘Start Me Up’ was canned because we all liked ‘Miss You’ better,’ says Kimsey. “It was a great song with Sugar Blue playing Mick’s harp riff.”
As Some Girls was the band’s first-full effort with Ronnie Wood, his guitar became more integrated into the overall sound of the band. “Ronnie was quite diverse in his playing,” says Kimsey. “He played pedal steel on ‘Faraway Eyes’ and played a lot of slide guitar, too.”
Since the Stones were more interested in songwriting than production, they gave Kimsey a relatively free hand to edit and mix the material. “The title track was actually 24 minutes long, originally,” says Kimsey, “but after we finished cutting it, Mick asked me to chop it down to three-and-half, four minutes.”
The album’s original cover, featuring, the faces of Lucille Ball, Raquel Welch, and Farrah Fawcett-Majors on the sleeve, had to be withdrawn after legal action was threatened. Some lyrics on the title track raised some ire as well, especially the line that found Jagger opining that “black girls just wanna get fucked all night.”
The controversies, however, didn’t hurt the Stones. In its fourth week on the chart, Some Girls hit the summit, becoming the Stones’ seventh chart-topper. Three weeks later, “Miss You,” the group’s answer to the disco craze, topped the Hot 100. The Stones had proven once again that they could survive and even thrive through the fads of the day.
THE TOP FIVE
Week of July 15, 1978
1. Some Girls, Rolling Stones
2. City to City, Gerry Rafferty
3. Natural High, Commodores
4. Saturday Night Fever, Soundtrack
5. Stranger in Town, Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band