With all of the exciting new peaks as top artists inspired, challenged, and built off of one another, I was a little surprised by how ordinary I found the next Rolling Stones album, “Between The Buttons”. There are familiar sounds and influences, with a more diverse collection of instruments and sounds. The second song “Yesterday’s Papers” is a good example. There is a bit of a “Pet Sounds” feel to it, but it is really pretty bland in general.
Like every Rolling Stones album, there are multiple well-known hits, but even those are not my favorites. Whenever I listen to a Stones playlist or collection, “Let’s Spend The Night Together” and “Ruby Tuesday” are usually there, but rarely do I double back to either of those for a second listen. My favorite recollection of “Let’s Spend The Night Together” is when they were required by Ed Sullivan to begrudgingly change the chorus to “Let’s Spend Some Time Together”. Apparently the thought of an unmarried couple spending the night together was just too much for Ed and popular America, even in 1967, following on the heels of the Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”. Between that and The Doors refusing Ed’s direction to change the lyrics to “Light My Fire”, it was clear the gap was widening between pop culture and counter-culture.
As I said, the rest of the album is pretty unremarkable, with some quirky moments like “Cool, Calm and Collected” and “Something Happened To Me Yesterday”, that remind me of The Who’s “A Quick One”, which as you know, is not a favorable comparison. I will say there are a couple of moments on this album when I really stepped back to appreciate the drumming of Charlie Watts, which doesn’t always jump out with the Stones. He is a very solid and always consistent drummer and perfect for the band, even if he doesn’t earn the same recognition as some of his peers. “Complicated” is a great example of his sound, a highlight on this album.
Overall, my favorite song by far is “Miss Amanda Jones”, which frankly sounds way ahead of schedule. It is a great preview of the blues-honkey-tonk-rock mix sound they perfected on albums like “Exile on Main Street”. The guitar sound is so raw and rough and the perfect precursor to where they were headed musically.
As noted, as Rolling Stones albums go, this one will never rate at the top of my list, but even with a mid-level offering, there are several highlights worth a listen.