By Nick The Record Lover
The Rolling Stones “Between The Buttons” has become my go-to record from this group lately. I received “The Rolling Stones in Mono” CD set as a gift a few years back ( a steal for 40 bucks brand new on EBAY), and enjoyed listening to The Stones first few albums. The sound quality is so crisp and clear (much superior to the 1986 CD releases) and I have to say, bar none, these albums belong in their original mono formats. My favorite album of The Rolling Stones has always been “Flowers”, a 1967 compilation featuring the singles “Ruby Tuesday” “Let’s Spend The Night Together” and “Have You Seen Your Mother Baby, Standing in The Shadow?” It also included previously unreleased tracks: Their cover version of The Temptations classic “My Girl” and “Ride On Baby”, recorded the previous year during the group’s “Aftermath” album sessions.
I picked up the first CD release of “Between The Buttons” back in 1994-95 after watching the coming of age 1987 film “Some Kind of Wonderful”. When Eric Stoltz’s character Keith gets prepped for his big date with Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson), the opening chords start off to The Rolling Stones “Miss Amanda Jones” I was hooked. I knew it was The Rolling Stones, deciphered that it was from back in their 60s heyday, and immediately started asking what album “Miss Amanda Jones” appeared on. The ones I asked only knew it was from the movie, so I had to continue my search. When I visited Compact Disc World in Edison New Jersey, I went up to the computer and punched in the title of the song (remember when we had to do that? Oh, how times have changed) to see what album it was a part of. The picture of the “Between The Buttons” album cover appeared in the lower right corner of the screen. I said to myself, “Miss Amanda Jones” is on the same album as “Ruby Tuesday” and “Let’s Spend The Night Together”? I was going to buy it anyway because (A) I was (and still am) a big Rolling Stones fan, and (B) I was yet to have it in my collection. When I first heard the CD, I thought the sound quality was OK, as it read on the bottom of the case that it was “Digitally Remastered From Original Master Recordings”. “Ruby Tuesday” and “Let’s Spend The Night Together” were mixed a tad different than the versions on “Flowers” and the recording levels of both songs sounded much lower. I wasn’t thinking so much of sound quality at the time, just that I added the album to my collection and I could finally listen to “Miss Amanda Jones” in its entirety. I gave the other tracks a listen, and loved “Connection”, “Cool, Calm, and Collected” and “Something Happened to Me Yesterday”. I remember playing this album very often throughout the mid-late 1990s, blasting “Miss Amanda Jones” and singing along with nearly every verse. I finally figured out that one of the verses is “She’s the darling of the discotheque crowd/”Of her lineage she’s rightfully proud, Miss Amanda Jones…” And that’s just since I listened to the Mono Boxed set version. Which would make that over a year ago. Since then I rediscovered this underrated Stones gem.
The mono boxed set version contains all of the UK incarnations of the Rolling Stones early catalog released in their original formats. Most of the albums were repackaged in The United States with different track listings.
Which brings me to the ultimate gist of today’s blog post. Which version is superior? The UK version (Released on January 20, 1967) in mono, the UK version in stereo, or the US version(Released on February 11, 1967) in stereo? I’ve Yet to hear the US version of “Between The Buttons” in mono (which I could assume sounds very similar to the mono released in Britain).
I really enjoy the Mono UK Mix originally released in January of 1967. All of this material was recorded between the late Summer and early Winter of 1966. The singles “Ruby Tuesday” and “Let’s Spend The Night Together” were recorded in December of 1966 and released in January of 1967. The Mono UK Mix, in my opinion, is the far superior version than the US and UK Stereo. There’s more punch to the songs, especially “Connection” (which also has a longer fade in mono), as does “Cool, Calm, Collected”. “Miss Amanda Jones” jumps right out of the left channel, the way it was meant to be heard. The vocals sound more snide, and one can tell the group put their all into the Mono Mixes. Plus, it’s an album which didn’t need the single “Ruby Tuesday”/”Let’s Spend The Night Together” to make it relevant. It’s a unique and complete album that stands well on its own. It includes the great ballad “Backstreet Girl” and the Bo-Diddley inspired psychedelic “Please Go Home”. This is the second Rolling Stones album which featured all original compositions, and showcases different styles of music, and tackled more adult material featured on the great Bob Dylan inspired “Who’s Been Sleeping Here?” and the grungy “My Obsession”. Mick shines on the shuffle type ballad “She Smiled Sweetly”, and the band shows their creativity of mixing raga and honky-tonk with “Cool, Calm, Collected.”
One of my favorites to sing along with is the closing track “Something Happened to Me Yesterday.” It shows the “Bad Boys of Rock” could joke with the best of ’em, especially when the sing the refrain of “Something Happened To Me Yesterday” and Mick sneaks in the opening of “Yesterday” by The Beatles, and later on ad libs “What kind of joint is this?” This is also the first time Mick and Keith Richards trade vocals. Mick tells the story of something happening that was “Oh so Groovy” in the verses, while Keith takes the lead on the choruses “He don’t know if it’s right or wrong…”
Well my fellow music lovers, there’s my take on The Rolling Stones much under-rated “Between The Buttons. The Mono UK wins by a landslide. So to paraphrase Mick, Keith, Brian, Charlie and Bill:
Thank You very much and it’s time for me to go. So from me to you, not forgetting the “Boys in The Band”. I’d like to say, God Bless. So if you’re out tonight, don’t forget, if you’re on your bike, wear white.
Nick The Record Lover