It was my mate Geordie who first got me into The Rolling Stones. He was from Newcastle and brought his record collection with him when his family moved to Hamilton. His albums had more elaborate covers than the versions we got out here. He had a great passion for the Mick Taylor years, had seen them live many times and blasted those albums at his flat. I was still in high school and there was a group of us that partied there on the weekends after the football – the Lads.
They were an almost flawless series of records, including Beggars Banquet through to Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street. Song after song – sexy, political, provocative, self-mocking, intelligent, poetic and so full of soul and character. The playing and the production as well – Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman, Jimmy Miller and Glynn Johns, Nicky Hopkins and Ian Stuart.
There was that darkness and danger too; Hyde Park, Altamont and the Gimme Shelter movie, the busts – it’s like they were constantly playing with fire and taking the piss. All those stories about their antics on the famous tours of the early seventies and the most beautiful and talented women that accompanied and inspired them – true rock and roll theatre played out in style.
Ladies and Gentlemen the Rolling Stones came out in quadrophonic at the cinema and, while not one of the great rock films, it was a telling document of the band touring the Exile album and you could hear the way Mick Taylor and Keith’s guitars wove in and out with the sound separation.
When Goats Head Soup came out I lapped it up – it was the first of their albums that I bought on release and it has some of my personal favourites on it – Winter, A Hundred Years Ago, Heartbreaker, Coming Down, Again and Angie. It’s Only Rock and Roll too had its moments – Time Waits For No One and then no more Mick Taylor.
I was flatting with Geordie by the time Black and Blue came out and we were both huge Faces fans as well so Ronnie Wood was a great fit for us and we thrashed that album too. I know they recorded other classic songs after this but in some way I feel that that album finished the Stones I loved in the way Beggar’s Banquet had started it.
In 1995 I finally got the chance to see them live at Western Springs – the Voodoo Lounge tour. Michelle and I with young Angus did the big road trip to Auckland and it was a really happy time for us. Ang stayed with Michelle’s sister and we went hand in hand like two kids going to our first concert together – I even bought a bootleg t-shirt with the tongue with the spikes that was too small for me.
We watched them from the hill getting stoned on the spectacle and the occasion as they played a set of songs I loved and had grown up with – total Satisfaction. It was a very generous performance and every time I thought of a song I wanted to hear they went and played it. The song that affected me the most, strangely enough, was Angie – Mick Jagger’s rendition of it that night made me cry salt tears and I can’t explain why.
They have always been vague about who wrote what in the Jagger/Richards song writing team but I rate their lyrics above any English artist of their golden era except Lennon and Bowie – even though it can be difficult to understand what the hell Mick’s saying half the time.