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wonders never cease Thursday, June 3, 2010

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 2nd, 2010play list of the week: sorry charlie, it's your birthday.

[caption id="attachment_4410" align="alignleft" width="445" caption="click to listen"]charliewattswjimi[/caption] It was recently pointed out to us that, in the 38 weekly playlists we've done thus far, we've featured nary one song from the band that many consider to be Rock and Roll's greatest. While that did indeed surprise us -- and we haven't had a chance to go back and research the accuracy of the claim -- the fact we couldn't refute it immediately made us realize we had a situation to remedy, and pronto. Oh, happy day: turns out today this is the 69th birthday of legendary Stones drummer, Mr Charles Robert Watts. Charlie Watts is the eldest of the originals -- not just the grandfather of rock drumming, but actually a grandfather. He remains married to his wife of 45 years and is noted both for his impeccable style and his unassuming modesty despite rock-god status. Mick and Keith have each called Charlie the key member of the band. Keith went on to say the Rolling Stones would not be (nor could continue existing as) the Rolling Stones without Watts. We'll recount one Watts story then on to the music: While on tour in the mid-80s, an intoxicated Jagger phoned Watts' hotel room in the middle of the night asking where "my drummer" was. Watts reportedly got up, shaved, dressed in a suit, put on a tie and freshly-shined shoes, descended the stairs and punched Jagger in the face, saying: "Don't ever call me your drummer again. You're my f#@*ing singer!" With that, we bring you a dozen of Charlie's best:

1. Sympathy for the Devil -
The opening track on Beggars Banquet is a prime example of the songwriting team of Jagger and Richards. Mick wrote the lyrics based on an idea from a classic Russian novel, and Keith changed the tempo and added percussion, turning Mick's Dylanesque folk song into a samba.

2. Street Fighting Man
Another song from Beggars Banquet, this one is often called the Stones' most political song, with Mick lamenting the lack of activity in England compared to the dramatic civil unrest occurring at the time in the US and France. The song opens with an springy, jangly guitar riff and is joined by thunderous drums on the offbeat for an unsettling effect.

3. Paint It Black
Released Friday the 13th, in May of 1966, as the first single from their fourth album, Aftermath. With the signature riff performed by Brian Jones, this was the first number one song that featured a sitar. Fearing controversy, the folks at Decca first released the title a "Paint It, Black" with a comma that was later removed at the band's insistence.

4. Monkey Man
From 1969's Let It Bleed, with lyrics reflecting Mick and Keith's view of life on the road and the growing fame and notoriety that came with it, like "Well, I hope we're not too messianic, or a trifle too satanic. We love to play the blues."

5. Jumpin' Jack Flash
Recording for this classic tune began in the Beggars Banquet sessions in 1968 but didn't make that album. It was released as a single later that year and topped the charts in the UK. It remains the band's most frequently played song in concert.

6. Gimme Shelter
The opening track from 1969's Let It Bleed, this is a dark, apocalyptic song features the vocal accompaniment of Merry Clayton, whose powerful delivery really reroutes the song to its hopeful conclusion, replacing the ominous warnings with the more cheery, "Love, sister, it's just a kiss away."

7. Under My Thumb
A popular song from 1966's Aftermath, this song is probably best remembered as the song the Stones were playing at the infamous Altamont Free Concert in 1969 when members of the audience began brawling with the Hells Angels who had been hired as security, resulting in the stabbing death of 18-year-old Meredith Hunter by one of the Angels.

8. Ruby Tuesday
According to Keith, he wrote this song about a groupie, and the song, coupled with "Let's Spend The Night Together," reached number one in the US (and inspired the name for a restaurant chain).

9. Start Me Up
Finally released on 1981's Tattoo You after first being recorded as a reggae-rock track in 1975 for the Black and Blue album released the next year. It was revisited in 1977 for Some Girls , and then again in 1979 for Emotional Rescue, each time being cut by Keith from the final track list. Apparently, he forgot his objection and the riff became a bit of a Richards trademark as the song turned out to be the last big hit the Stones have had.

10. Satisfaction
Originally relegated to pirate radio stations in Europe because of the sexual references and anti-commercialism themes, it became the band's first number one hit in the US, then topped the charts in the UK a few months later. Keith claimed that he came up with it while fast asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, recording the riff and the words "I can't get no satisfaction" on a cassette recorder and promptly falling back to sleep. He would later describe the tape as: "two minutes of 'Satisfaction' and 40 minutes of me snoring."

11. It's Only Rock 'N' Roll (But I Like It)
The title track for the 12th studio album, the album on which Ron Wood replaced Mick Taylor. Intended to be a half-live, half-cover versions of the band's favorite R&B songs, the concept was later scrapped for all new material. This album also marked the return to the role of producer for the Mick and Keith, replacing Jimmy Miller with the pseudonymous "Glimmer Twins."

12. You Can't Always Get What You Want
Listed last because it is one of the few songs ever recorded by The Rolling Stones on which Charlie Watts does not play drums. The drums on this song are played by Jimmy Miller, the producer for 1969's Let It Bleed and the "Mr Jimmy" that Mick sings about in the track. The soaring vocals that open the song and swell up throughout are performed by the London Bach Choir. Despite the complex arrangement, the song wasn't released as a single but rather as the B-Side to "Honky Tonk Women."

13. I Wish I Could Drum Like Charlie Watts - The Kunks
According to the band, The Kunks were formed in the 1970's by brothers Dae and Nite Ravens and some childhood friends from the sleepy little UK town of Swell Mum Hill. The drummer, Nick Avarice, joined the band after the original drummer, Henry Bobbit, was kicked out of the British Federation of Musicians for cutting off the president of that organization in his car en route to the studio. This would not happen to Charlie Watts.

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