No, I did not spell “Exile On Main Street” wrong, when it comes to my favourite Stones album, I choose “Their Satanic Majesties Request” (1967), the Rolling Stones short foray into psychedelia. Now, “Majesty” is not considered, by most, to be the best Stones album. They will say “Exile” or “Let It Bleed” or “Sticky Fingers” which are all quintessential Rolling Stones albums. However, Majesty is just a personal favourite: the production is on point, it’s the Stones at their most experimental before they solidified the ‘stones sound’, and Brian Jones was still in the band.
People argue that because of its psychedelic leanings that it was a rip off of the Beatles, who had just released their seminal, Sgt. Peppers album only months before. Coincidentally, on the album cover a Shirley Temple doll on the right is wearing a “Welcome The Rolling Stones” T-shirt. The motivation for doing so, was meant in as act of comradery with their fellow musicians. However, one wonders if this was a dare or a call to “best this”, as it were. So, it naturally follows: was “Majesty” a ‘hold my drink moment’ for the Stones against the Beatles (or hold my hash pipe as it were)? The Stones in turn featured the Beatles members heads (hidden in the bushes) of Majesty. Who knows, the bands motivations for the inclusion, it could be classic British cheekiness. Maybe it was them trying to out best each other in the psychedelic arena? However, it could be argued that even amongst the bands themselves there was a sense of competition.
However, it is dismissive to think that “Their Majesties” stands in the shadows of The Beatles. I don’t think it sounds like a Beatles album. One could argue that the whole psychedelic aesthetic was coming in from all directions as a social (sonic) movement. Although, there are hippy group sing-a-longs, and some orchestration, as in the opener “Sing This All Together” and the vaudevillian closer “On With Show”, I don’t think it should be considered a wannabe Beatles album.
For instance, the second song, “Citadel” might be one of the Stones’ finest sounding moments: the guitars rattle, the drum compression pops, mellotrons whirl. Bill Wyman’s crimson & clovered “In Another Land” is a nice slice of pop. “2000 Man” sounds like the 70’s Stones in the 60’s with its odd timed drums and asks the questions: “could this be the Rolling Stones from the future?” Also, the psy-fi fantasy of “2000 Light Years From Home”, is there any other Rolling Stones song as haunting? It sounds more like a saucerful of Floyd more than a “Strawberry Field” even at the latters most sinister. Then there is “She’s A Rainbow”, which does seem very unlike Rolling Stones with more flounce than “Lady Jane”. I would argue that this song takes liberal doses from the band Love and their backcatalogue. Not only in the direct lift of the phrase, “She Comes In Colors” a song by Love which came out a year before on Da Capo (1966), but elements from other Love songs as well (the percussion, the latin trumpets). So, its not just the Beatles that the Stones may have borrowed from arguably. Indeed, even from their bluesy origins The Stones have borrowed from many bands and musicians, except maybe Brian Jones (he was an original).
Lastly, “The Lantern” is one of the best Stone’s song, honest and minimal with a really nice trumpet arrangement. Is it the Stone’s “Crystal Ship?” Maybe. Needless to say I had to include it as a soft landing for the end of the last Cottage Country Mix.
“The Lantern” appears on Cottage Country Vol. 23: