SOME GIRLS – The Rolling Stones – Rolling Stones Records – 1978
Disco. Punk. Blues. Rock. Country. Touching on each of these unique, diverse genres on one album looks like a recipe for disaster on paper. And yet, in the tight span of 40 minutes, that combination was the magic kick that the Rolling Stones needed to revive their careers.
Things were not looking good for the Stones by the late-70s. After getting carried away on their own popularity following a string of hit albums — Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile on Main St. — they released a string of subpar ones. Drugs were becoming an increasing problem, and a heroin bust left Keith Richards facing serious legal issues and the threat of an extended jail sentence. Their early peers, bands like the Beatles, the Animals, and Led Zeppelin, had either broken up long ago or were on the fade. And now in their early 30s, they were considered too old to be trusted as rock stars anymore, quickly losing relevancy to the young punks and disco acts on the rise.
Suffice it to say, their next album had the power to make or break them. An experimentation with what was new, while still remaining true to the Stones’ established rock aesthetic, 1978’s Some Girls was a critical and commercial success that breathed new life into the band.
In this episode, we examine the influences of emerging musical movements like disco and punk on the Stones, how a decidedly British band made an album that captured the New York spirit, and why it stands up over time as a testament to the Rolling Stones’ continued legacy as one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time.
This episode is in memory of all the people who were killed and injured in Las Vegas this week, and to the lasting influence of Tom Petty. May it remind you why we all love and celebrate music in the first place.
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Episode notes and postscript corrections
- Alright, the Rolling Stones had a lonnnnng history before they even got around to Some Girls, so we’ll spare you all our CliffsNotes and just direct you to Wikipedia to spiral from there.
- We’ve discussed this before: the mid- to late-70s were an incredibly exciting time in music, particularly in New York. It’s no wonder the Stones wanted to play catch-up and pull in punk and disco influences to stay current.
- We can hear a SLEW of influences on this album. Bop over to our master playlist on Spotify to hear them all.
- LOL at the Stones being considered too old in the ‘70s.
- Because of Keith’s legal issues stemming from a bust for heroin possession, Mick ends up being a driving creative force on Some Girls. For more about that, peep our further reading section below.
- Okay honestly, if you don’t bop to “Miss You,” your brain might be broken.
- Shoutout to Billy Preston for teaching Mick four on the floor.
- Shoutout to Charlie Watts for that kick drum and being an all-around great drummer.
- Watch this video. “My thing, whenever I play, is to make it a dance sound. It doesn’t matter whether it’s blues or whatever. It should swing and bounce.” Helllll yeahhh, Charlie.
- Debate: Do you think the disco-influence in “Miss You” was the product of experimentation and jamming, or a pointedly calculated track?
- Current artists are always going to be influenced by what came before, but we seem to be in the midst of a ‘70s and early ‘80s renaissance with bands like Vulfpeck, TOPS, etc.
- That sentiment about all music being cyclical because there are only so many chords that we couldn’t source? It came from Tom Petty. He’s invaded our subconscious to the point where we could recall this interview he gave about 12 years ago, in which he says he’s found himself writing a song and “then [realizing] it’s somebody else’s song. […] But there’s only so many words and so many notes, so sometimes you do cross somebody else’s territory.”
- Hi, we may be technically nerdy but you will never find us be superior purist snobs on this show.
- Mick Jagger is a slut. There. We said it.
- Shoutout to that pedal steel guitar for creeping into some punkier tracks.
- No, really, Mick has no idea why he wrote “When The Whip Comes Down.”
- Hahahahahahahaha “Some Girls” would never be made today hahahahahaha
- No, seriously, can anyone provide any evidence that Mick did research at CBGB because “Lies” and “Respectable” sure sound like he did.
- Someone compiled a list of all the times Keef sings lead on Stones’ songs, so there’s that.
- TBH, “Before They Make Me Run” has strains of Mudcrutch in it, though, so we can’t complain too much.
- Keef has lived an extraordinarily messy life. You should read about it in his memoir, aptly titled Life.
- (Keef will outlive us all.)
- “Beast of Burden” is easily one of the top 10 sexiest songs ever do not fight us on this.
- From the Clash to Lou Reed to Joe Jackson — check out all the influences we hear in “Shattered” in our ever-evolving master playlist. (Yes, we plugged it again.)
- PSA: Do not complain about New York if you do not live in New York. (We’re looking at you, Mick.)
- What’s there to say about the Rolling Stones’ legacy? They’ve been around forever and are seemingly immortal, having influenced countless of musicians and fans for more than 50 years.
Mick Jagger — lead and backing vocals, electric guitar, piano, percussion
Keith Richards — electric guitar, backing vocals, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, piano, lead vocals
Bill Wyman — bass guitar, synthesizer
Charlie Watts — drums
Ronnie Wood — electric guitar, backing vocals, pedal steel, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, bass drum
Sugar Blue — harmonica
Ian McLagan — electric piano, organ
Mel Collins — saxophone
Simone Kirke — congas
Ted Jensen — mastering
Favorite track(s): Miss You (Carly) | Miss You (Carrie)
Least favorite track: Far Away Eyes (Carly) | Far Away Eyes and Before They Make Me Run (Carrie)
Shine a Light (Martin Scorsese documentary on the Rolling Stones) | 2008
The Rolling Stones: Just for the Record – The ’70s | 2002
Keith Richards: Life (BBC documentary) | 2010
Some Girls tour interview | 1978
Rolling Stones’ ‘Some Girls’ (from the 33 1/3 book series) | 2011
Life (Keith Richards’ memoir) | 2010
How the Rolling Stones went disco: Inside the making of “Miss You” | Salon (August 2017)
How the Rolling Stones Bounced Back With ‘Some Girls’ | Ultimate Classic Rock (June 2015)
The Rolling Stone Interview: Jagger Remembers | Rolling Stone (December 1995)
Mick Jagger: Jumpin’ Jack Flash at 34 | Rolling Stone (June 1978)
Some Girls review | Rolling Stone (June 1978)