It is time for our Sunday piece, Presented with Comment, where each week Michael and Nicholas La Torre take a turn engaging in a debate over alt topics of interest and gauging the audience's views on the issues at hand. To do this, the authors will present examples to support their opinions and not only get the audience's view on the two sides presented, but seek feedback from the audience on alternatives as well.
I am so damned excited! I love writing this piece because it essential gives Nicholas and I forum to do what we always do talk music. I have wanted to have this debate for ages, Nicholas kept saying "no". "I know, I know, it's apples and oranges at times comparing bands" I would say, but there has to be a best rock and roll band ever, there just has to be. Funny thing was, there wasn't an issue of Nicholas and I choosing sides in this debate, he's firmly in his camp for Led Zeppelin and I clearly have my choice.
What if I told you my choice has been active since 1962, they have released 30 studio albums and 21 live albums, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989? Additionally, they are responsible for four of the five top grossing tours of all time and were at the forefront of the British Invasion that hit the United States in the 1960's and 1970's. Allow me to humbly present my choice , the deservedly self-proclaimed "Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World" The Rolling Stones!
Origins and The Blues
When they initially exploded onto the global music scene, they were cast as the "bad boys" to the Beatles. The saying went, "You parents wouldn't mind if you brought home a Beatle, but there was no way in hell you could bring home a Rolling Stone". They wore the bad boy image well in the early 60's and into the 70's. However, one thing that often gets lost in those discussions is the music.
The Stones had a deep seeded appreciated of classic blues music, so much so their name "The Rolling Stones" came from a classic blues jam that was played by legends including their personal favorite Muddy Waters. When The Stones first started, the primarily played blues classics, very rarely playing original material. Their debut album The Rolling Stones only included one original composition and their sophomore release 12 X 5 had only three originals. The rest of the tracks were originally credited to greats such as Chuck Berry, Willie Dixon, and Jimmy Reed. This would obviously change as time went on. Though The Stones recently honored this tradition with their latest release Blue & Lonesome. The Stones have always honored blues in their music, with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards being a driving influence of that.
It is important to note that many of the classic rock greats and those of the British invasion owe much to the Blues greats. Many of those acts do not pay the proper respect that they should as some of them outright lifted their style from Blues influence. But The Stones were respectful in the tributes. This was especially evident when they had the opportunity to play with their hero Muddy Waters in 1981. By this time, The Stones were already legends, but if you watch this concert, you see them giddy as school kids to be playing with their hero. If you haven't watched it. I highly recommend it. It's a sight to behold.
The Rolling Stones were innovators in their time. Especially Keith Richards who invented a damn guitar tuning that he would employ throughout their career. What first makes Open G guitar tuning unique is that it only utilizes five strings. That's right, Richards pops off his top E string! What's interesting is hearing Keith talk about how he is still exploring the tuning after all of these years. In the video below Keith gives advice to those looking to explore the tuning for themselves. It's important to say, the style is often imitated but never duplicated.
The innovation doesn't end with Keith's guitars. Mick Jagger's vocal style is also extremely innovative as he dynamic and flexible in the manner in which he sings. There are times he is in your face with dynamic loud vocals, or there's his more melodic vocals, and don't forget his fantastic harmonization with Richards.
Additionally, Mick Jagger seemingly invented front man charisma. A seemingly endless supply of energy, Jagger puts on a show no matter what he's doing with his charismatic dancing, I feel like he brushes his teeth doing this. Again, often imitated but never duplicated, find me a front person of a group with more charisma than Jagger.
One thing The Stones rarely get credit for is for how fantastically talented they are. Initially Brian Jones played a significant role in this as he was a musical virtuoso before his untimely passing. However, since the partnership of Jagger and Richards has flourished with Richards often writing seemingly all of the musical contributions of the group (and even sometimes the lyrics as he did with "Brown Sugar"). Am I going to argue that The Rolling Stones are individually more talented than Led Zeppelin? No I won't say that, but I also think they deserve more credit in this area.
(Photo Credit: Ultimate Classic Rock)
The Rolling Stones have released 120 singles. They are the fourth best selling group of all time. Some of their greatest hits include their top single "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", "Jumpin' Jack Flash", "Sympathy for the Devil", "Wild Horses", "Gimme Shelter"...Just to name a few. Their catalog of music is incomparable as they have enough greatest hits for at least fifteen bands. Most of these songs are quintesntial rock and roll with blues flavor, it's just damn good music. You may find people that prefer The Beatles (I would argue they haven't been paying attention) but I guarantee you that most music fans have at least one song they love from The Stones.
Finally not only is their music timeless, so are the members. They are all in their seventies and they are still going! They just announced a United States leg of their No Filter Tour. While some will make the baseless claim that The Stones can't bring it in their advanced age, let's take a look at the tape.
I hate to break it to the haters but The Stones can hold their own with just about anybody out their with regards to playing live. There's just no substitute for world class talent, even at seventy-five years old.
Balls in your court Nick.