Q Magazine

On This Day In Music… April 30, 1966: 'Aftermath', the First Rolling Stones LP Written Entirely by Jagger/Richards, Hits No. 1

The album was Mick 'n' Keef's creation - but was elevated to greatness by Brian Jones.

rolling stones
Source: mega

'Aftermath' was the Stones' fourth British release, but the first wholly penned by Jagger and Richards.

Link to FacebookShare to XShare to Email

In April 1966, the Rolling Stones’ 22-year-old manager Andrew Loog Oldham gave an interview to Disc magazine. “Mick and Keith write about things that are happening,” he said. “Everyday things. Their songs reflect the world around them. I think it’s better than anything they’ve done before.”

The “it” in question was Aftermath, the Rolling Stones' fourth British LP (and sixth U.S. studio release), which would hit No. 1 in the U.K. charts on April 30, 1966. Aftermath was the first album comprised entirely of songs written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards – and would lay down, in dark, uncompromising terms, the band’s identity from that point on. Arrogant, misogynistic, nihilistic, obsessed with sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll… as well as musically brilliant and immensely, irresistibly charismatic.

It marks the moment the Stones came in to their own, that they found the confidence to move on from the blues covers and copycat sounds of their American heroes and find an identity and an attitude wholly theirs. It set the template for their entire career that followed: in that sense, there is a very good case to be made for Aftermath being the most important of all their records.

Article continues below advertisement
rolling stones aftermath
Source: mega

The Stones were marketed by manager Andrew Loog Oldham as "bad boy" alternatives to the Beatles.

The Rolling Stones were already big news by April 1966. After forming in 1962 around the blues-obsessed Brian Jones and the twin talents of Jagger and Richards, they had played their first gig as the “Rollin’ Stones” that July, and released their first single, the Chuck Berry track “Come On”, the following June. That made No. 21 in the British charts, and was followed in November 1963 by the Lennon-McCartney-penned “I Wanna Be Your Man”, which peaked at No. 12.

In February 1964 their version of the Buddy Holly song “Not Fade Away” climbed to No. 3, and was followed by debut album The Rolling Stones, which contained only one Jagger/Richards composition, “Tell Me (You’re Coming Back)”. Despite the lack of original songs, the album was a smash, occupying the British No. 1 spot for 12 weeks, and establishing the Stones – and their mining of raw blues sounds – as “bad boy” alternatives to the cheeky-chappie, mop-topped Beatles.

Article continues below advertisement
rolling stones brian jones
Source: mega

Brian Jones had formed the Stones around his own musical vision.

January 1965’s follow-up, the imaginatively-titled The Rolling Stones No. 2, followed in the same vein, with only three of the 12 tracks written by Jagger/Richards, and in September of that year they released third LP Out of Our Heads. Although once again, the majority of the album was made up of covers of blues and soul tracks by the likes of Bo Diddley and Sam Cooke, the U.S. version did contain two notable exceptions, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “The Last Time”.

Both songs were released as singles; both reached No. 1 in the U.K., with “Satisfaction” also topping the Billboard Hot 100. They were followed by further Jagger/Richards-penned hits, “Get Off of My Cloud”, “As Tears Go By”, and, in February 1966, “19th Nervous Breakdown”. Finally, the Stones were ready to release an album wholly of their own creation.

Article continues below advertisement

Never miss a story — sign up for the Q newsletter for the latest music news on all your favorite artists, all in one place.

Article continues below advertisement

If Jagger and Richards had spent the first four years of their Rolling Stones career perfecting their own take on other people’s records, they had also learned how to take the songwriting craft of legends like Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters and put a wholly original twist on it.

Aftermath came out just seven months after Out of Our Heads, and, for the first time, contained only originals. All of the attitude of the old blues covers were there – but were now given a modern twist, and infused with a new attitude, a darkness and a palpable sense of danger.

The very first thing British audiences heard when they dropped the needle to the groove was Jagger’s drawl: “What a drag it is getting old…”. The last track on Side 2, “Think”, begins with the lyric “I’m givin’ you a piece of my mind”.

Along the way there’s the 11-minute semi-psychedelic jam “Goin’ Home”, as well as songs that are now considered classics, including “Stupid Girl”, “Under My Thumb” and “Out of Time”. American audiences were treated to an abridged version, which dropped “Mother’s Little Helper”, “Take it or Leave it”, “Out of Time” and “What to Do” in order to include “Paint it Black” – another No. 1 on both sides of the Atlantic.

Article continues below advertisement

Aftermath not only established Jagger and Richards as a songwriting partnership to rival Lennon and McCartney, it also highlighted the willingness of the band – and especially of Brian Jones – to take musical risks. The blues grounding was still all-pervasive, but had been married to experiments with other instruments, mostly via Jones.

Dulcimers, sitars and the Japanese koto are all used on the album, as well as, on “Under My Thumb”, a marimba. According to Stones folklore, the instrument had been left behind in the studio from another session, and upon discovering it Jones, who had never played a marimba before, took just minutes to use it to transform the song’s central riff.

Article continues below advertisement

Released just a few months before the Beatles changed the game again with Revolver, Aftermath made No. 1 in the U.K and No. 2 in the U.S. Their next LP, Between the Buttons, would come a year later, and pave the way for the triple-whammy of releases to stamp the Jagger/Richards partnership’s authority on the late 1960s, Their Satanic Majesties Request, Beggars Banquet, and Let it Bleed.

In a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone, Mick Jagger described Aftermath as “a big landmark record for me. It’s the first time we wrote the whole record and finally laid to rest the ghost of having to do these very nice and interesting, no doubt, but still cover versions of old R&B songs – which we didn’t really feel we were doing justice, to be perfectly honest.

“[Aftermath] has a very wide spectrum of music styles… It had a lot of good songs, it had a lot of different styles, and it was very well recorded. So it was, to my mind, a real marker.”


Subscribe to our newsletter

your info will be used in accordance with our privacy policy

Read More