Like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones also released their next album at the end of 1964. “12 X 5”, which is representative of 12 songs from 5 musicians, is a very listenable collection of blues and early rock and roll covers, with three original songs from Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
To me, the story of this album is the emergence of Mick and Keith as the strengths of the band. Mick has such a strong personality that people tend to overlook his singing voice. While he is not a classic singer in the mold of Roy Orbison or even Elvis Presley, he is very good at delivering on a variety of songs, and I particularly appreciate the tone and purity of his falsetto as it surfaces on songs like “Under the Boardwalk”, or his sad lament on “Good Times, Bad Times”. Like Mick, Keith Richards and his guitar playing are notably more aggressive, up-tempo and true rock and roll guitar than most of the music of this time. On the first song, “Around and Around”, Keith’s unique chord and solo mix pushes the pace along with frequent guest Ian Stewart on piano. Stewart, while not a regular member of the band, was known to many as the “6th Rolling Stone” and will surface on many other albums across the British invasion of rock and roll, not just with the Stones.
The Stones remain very true to their blues roots, with a commitment that is authentic and consistent. “Confessin’ The Blues”, “Good Times, Bad Times” and “Grown Up Wrong”, which was an original song by Mick and Keith, lean heavily on blues, while pop hits like “Time Is On My Side” and “It’s All Over Now”, which is a fantastic sampler of early Stones, brought the band to a new audience. I think what I love most about “It’s All Over Now”, and this carries over throughout their career, is how totally different their harmony sound is from the Beatles or even the Beach Boys. Your first reaction when you hear Mick and Keith together, is that there is no way this can work. It is rough… and raw… and awesome. It is just one of many unique aspects that fascinates me to watch their career unfold and grow alongside those boys from Liverpool.
While rooted in the blues, the Stones demonstrated their range throughout a really strong album here. I have to think this would have caught my attention and my ear very effectively, even if, and perhaps because, it just seems a bit more dangerous and aggressive than what we had heard up until now.