Their Satanic Majesties Request

The Rolling Stones

ABKCO, 1967

http://www.rollingstones.com

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/27/2006

No record in Stones history has confused as many people as this one. It just sort of floats along in the Stones catalog, a blip in the radar, a confusing and thankfully one-off chapter in the story. Basically, it's the one time the Stones really followed trends instead of their own path...and true originals should not follow trends.

While time has not been kind to many psychedelic artifacts, this one holds up slightly better because, after all, it's the Rolling Stones. But the Stones are a blues/rock band, and their psychedelia feels forced and cliched. Witness "Sing This All Together," which would have been a decent record without the stupid horns and an off-kilter arrangement, added simply because they could. nbtc__dv_250

"Citadel" offers a wicked guitar crunch but devolves into the same Syd Barrett affectations found on most of Pink Floyd's Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. "In Another Land" sounds a bit like a Moody Blues song, interesting but hardly essential, while "2000 Light Years From Home" is about the only thing on the album played relatively straight, and -- save for the weird break in the middle -- is the strongest song here.

Unrelated to the first song, "Sing This All Together (See What Happens)" is a pastiche of sound effects, odd solos and general weirdness, a bit like "Revolution 9" meets "Time Has Come Today." It has no point and sums up the general problem with the record -- just trying psychedelia for the sake of trying, and the Stones are no dilettants. To prove this, they roared back in 1968 with Beggars' Banquet, one of their strongest albums of all time.

The other solid tune here is "She's A Rainbow," with general hippy-dippy lyrics ("She comes in colors everywhere / She combs her hair / She's like a rainbow.") but a genuine burst of inspiration between the solo pianos that introduce each verse instead of a standard verse/chorus format. Some light strings enhance the mood, not ruin it.

In fact, most of the last half is not as explicitly weird as the first half, but that doesn't quite mean it's good. Songs like "Gomper," with its Indian beats and percussion, probably meant a lot to people in 1967 but today seem silly and dated. The closing "On With the Show" is the most direct "homage" to Sgt. Peppers, not nearly as funny as Zappa's We're Only In It For The Money record but interesting nonetheless, if you're into this sort of thing.

I'm all for bands trying new things, but this is one experiment that just doesn't suit the Stones. It's a fascinating anomaly in the band's catalog, and those who were or are into hippie psychedelic music will enjoy this, but everyone else should approach it with caution.

Rating: C-

User Rating: C


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