The Rolling Stones – Between The Buttons

Between The Buttons

The Stones stopped rolling a long time ago. As mass bohemians, distance was power; and like all great artists, they stole. Blithe, sexy pirates of fun new pleasure, they gorged on the games of their peers (e.g., Dylan and The Beatles) with the tightest rhythm section in rock. Standbys who crashed other “parties,” their open burlesques amounted to an honest sort of ambivalence. They plied the paradox of a decadent, black-based pose — itself a brood of the blues (cf., “Gimme Shelter” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” the bookends on Let It Bleed). Bloody Altamont, and the life and death of guitarist Brian Jones (a dab hand at esoteric shades), entailed the group’s third and final act: Exile On Main Street (1972), where they internalized their influences to the point of self-immolation. If Sticky Fingers (1971) mainly comprised rum carryovers from the 60s, Exile was the Stones coming full circle and crashing the only party left — their own. Since then, almost all of the band’s output has been a stumbling wake.

That said, Between The Buttons finds the Eel Pie Islanders (and their mannered unruliness) as impudently cold as ever. Still impacted and impressed by Aftermath, their solid discharge of the previous year, Buttons‘ music hall skiffle is not flippant so much as consistent with the Stones’ attitude that they exploit their usages for the amusing enigmas they are. To them, everybody must get stoned — including rock & roll.

Rating: A-

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