The Rolling Stones: The Rolling Stones, Now!

February 13, 1965 – The Rolling Stones: The Rolling Stones, Now! is released in the US.
# Allmusic 5/5

The Rolling Stones, Now! is the third American studio album by The Rolling Stones, released on this date in 1965 by their initial American distributor, London Records.

One of the biggest and most artistically successful of The Rolling Stones’ early American releases, Now! was built around seven tracks taken from their UK No. 2 LP, put out in the UK just a month earlier, plus a handful of singles and previously unreleased songs.

This was a time of hyperactivity for The Rolling Stones, with songs recorded in London – Bo Diddley’s I Need You (Mona) dates from way back in early 1964 and had been left off the American edition of their debut LP – Chicago and Los Angeles. There’s Barbara Lynn Ozen’s Oh Baby (We’ve Got A Good Thing Goin’), Leiber and Butler’s Down Home Girl, Allen Toussaint’s Pain In My Heart (made famous by Otis Redding) and the classic Bert Russell, Solomon Burke and Jerry Wexler soul vamp Everybody Needs Somebody To Love – all were recorded in one marathon session on November 2 1964.

Of these covers, Down Home Girl – a hit a few months previously for Alvin Robinson – was probably the most successful, the band nailing a lazy New Orleans soul groove so tight it would later feature on a more than one big hip hop record.

So in early 1965 things were moving very fast. To get some idea of The Stones’ vertiginous trajectory at the time, it’s worth pointing out that they had played two shows in two different Californian cities the day before that LA session. Less than 48 hours later they would be 2586 miles away playing a show in Rhode Island.

But perhaps the most startling thing about Now! was just how fast the song-writing duo of Jagger/Richards (actually Richard at this point, the ‘s’ wouldn’t reappear until the late 1970s) was developing.

The brilliant country-blues Heart Of Stone had originally been recorded – with either Jimmy Page or John McLaughlin on additional guitar – in London in July 1964, though it wouldn’t appear on a UK LP until Out Of Our Heads over a year later. However, this new LA version marked a big step forward for the band. Here was a song that wore its insouciant confidence as casually – and as strikingly – as a well-tailored, button-down shirt.

“If you try acting sad,” Jagger sings, “you’ll only make me glad, better listen little girl…”

What A Shame – an eerie electric blues recorded, appropriately, in Chicago, the home of electric blues – would later turn up on Heart Of Stone’s B-side, while the simple pop-romp Off The Hook was a Nanker Phelge composition, one of the few songs created by the band together where all song writing royalties were equally split.

Surprise, Surprise, recorded in London at the end of September 1964, took the band away from a pure blues base and pulled some vibrant soul and revival-tent fervour from the song writing, finishing on a gorgeous diminished chord which adds a feeling of feverish melancholy to the song. It wouldn’t even appear on a UK release until 1970, by which time the world was a very different place indeed, and the very idea of splitting your albums apart for different markets was (as Mr Jimmy put it in 1969’s You Can’t Always Get What You Want, and also under very different circumstances) Dead.

Now!, which reached Number 5 in the US, is the sound of a band changing as fundamentally and enthusiastically as the world around them. This was a record, after all, that had room for something as fresh and of-the-moment as Off The Hook, for Don Raye’s 1940 big-band boogie-woogie classic Down The Road Apiece and for a strict blues number like the future UK Number 1 version of Willie Dixon’s Little Red Rooster.

On Now!, The Rolling Stones realised that they could do anything they wanted to, that no style, genre or set of songwriters could claim any kind of direction over them. The road ahead was suddenly looking very clear indeed.

The Rolling Stones, Now! is generally considered a very strong album and a highlight of their early American releases. Upon its February issuing, The Rolling Stones, Now! reached #5 in the US and became another gold seller for The Rolling Stones. In 2003, the album was ranked number 181 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

by Richie Unterberger, allmusic
Although their third American album was patched together (in the usual British Invasion tradition) from a variety of sources, it’s their best early R&B-oriented effort. Most of the Stones’ early albums suffer from three or four very weak cuts; Now! is almost uniformly strong start-to-finish, the emphasis on some of their blackest material. The covers of “Down Home Girl,” Bo Diddley’s vibrating “Mona,” Otis Redding’s “Pain in My Heart,” and Barbara Lynn’s “Oh Baby” are all among the group’s best R&B interpretations. The best gem is “Little Red Rooster,” a pure blues with wonderful slide guitar from Brian Jones (and a number one single in Britain, although it was only an album track in the U.S.). As songwriters, Jagger and Richards are still struggling, but they come up with one of their first winners (and an American Top 20 hit) with the yearning, soulful “Heart of Stone.”

All songs written by Jagger/Richards, except where noted.
Side one
No. Title Length
1. “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” (Solomon Burke/Berns/Wexler) 3:00
2. “Down Home Girl” (Jerry Leiber/Arthur Butler) 4:13
3. “You Can’t Catch Me” (Chuck Berry) 3:40
4. “Heart of Stone” 2:49
5. “What a Shame” 3:06
6. “Mona (I Need You Baby)” (Ellas McDaniel) 3:35

Side two
No. Title Length
7. “Down the Road Apiece” (Don Raye) 2:56
8. “Off the Hook” 2:36
9. “Pain in My Heart” (Allen Toussaint) 2:12
10. “Oh Baby (We Got a Good Thing Goin’)” (Barbara Lynn Ozen) 2:06
11. “Little Red Rooster” (Willie Dixon) 3:04
12. “Surprise, Surprise” 2:29

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