It's Only Rock 'N Roll (1974)


 
1.If You Can't Rock Me 2.Ain't Too Proud To Beg 3.It's Only Rock 'N Roll (But I Like It) 4.Till the Next Goodbye 5.Time Waits For No One 6.Luxury 7.Dance Little Sister 8.If You Really Want To Be My Friend 9.Short and Curlies 10.Fingerprint File

 

Known as "The World's Greatest Rock and Roll Band", here they wear that moniker on their sleeves. It seems like they're having a bit of fun with that distinction when you look at the cover. Even the hit song It's Only Rock 'N Roll (But I Like It) seems to fall in with the parody. It sounds, though, as if they're trying too hard to live up to their expectations. This is one of the most polished releases in the band's catalog, and as they've proven before, polish is one thing that these guys definitely did not need.

When you listen, for example, to a track such as Luxury, note that they have everything right where it should be - a good riff, strong melody and a very good reggae hook in the under currents. But then you have to wonder just how good this song could have been had they not been so meticulous in their craft and just cut the song after a few takes, leaving the rough edges intact as they did so well on albums such as Exile on Main Street. The same could be said for the funky Dance Little Sister. Yes, it's danceable, and yes it's good, but could have been so much better. As a matter of fact, this flaw is most evident in the album's opener If You Can't Rock Me, a song designed to grab you forcefully into the album, yet it's so calculated that it never quite lives up to expectations.

Of course they continue to explore seventies soul music, and these songs are the best here. The Billy Preston influenced If You Really Want To Be My Friend is the strongest thing featured and the closer Fingerprint File is a lot of fun, even though the subject matter is a bit scary - it echoes Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) from their last album Goats Head Soup. Also memorable is the somewhat country influenced Till the Next Goodbye.

Other tracks are a bit of a mixed bag. Time Waits for No One feels a bit out of place for the same reasons discussed above, and at six and a half minutes, it can wear on you. Short and Curlies, an off the cuff fast blues tune is supposed to be humorous (I think), it's just stupid. The whole album, really, is a great example of "what could have been…".

Unfortunately, this was Mick Taylor's last album as a Stone. As the most invisible member of the group's history, Taylor contributed a lot to the band and presided over the best part of the group's history. Most observers felt that he never felt comfortable being a Stone, and his exodus didn't surprise anybody. Since he left, he's done a lot, but reminds basically out of the limelight, which is probably just where he wants to be.


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