Mick Jagger and Keith Richards first met at Wentworth Primary School in the early 1950s. They weren’t great pals then, but the seeds had been sown for one of the greatest songwriting partnerships in history. Fast-forward six decades and the Glimmer Twins are about to embark on yet another UK tour with The Rolling Stones. But what should they play this time? Here’s 10 absolute classics they can’t leave out.
10. ‘Loving Cup’
A classic example of the Stones’ ability to blend country, soul and blues into a fresh and unique sound. Nicky Hopkins’ rollicking piano intro is the obvious highlight, but Jagger’s lead vocal – raw and emotional – is one of his best ever. Check out his duet with Jack White on Martin Scorsese’s live documentary Shine A Light.
Like this? Try this: ‘Sway’
9. ‘All Down The Line’
Another Exile On Main St. inclusion, but probably the most underrated tune on this list. Tucked away on side four of the band’s 1972 masterpiece, ‘All Down The Line’ is a relentless ballroom blowout laden with blues-soaked organ, euphoric trumpet and dirty electric guitar. A lesser-known treasure.
Like this? Try this: ‘Honky Tonk Women’
8. ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’
While undoubtedly majestic on record, this rock-gospel epic takes on new life when played live. Swelling strings, jubilant horns and a full 30-piece choir have all been used to impressive effect on recent tours. Got tickets for the new shows? You won’t forget this in a hurry.
Like this? Try this: ‘Lady Jane’
7. ‘Wild Horses’
Recorded at legendary Alabama studio Muscle Shoals (Etta James, Paul Simon and Bob Dylan all laid down tracks there), ‘Wild Horses’ is arguably the Stones’ greatest ballad. Written soon after Jagger split with Marianne Faithfull, it’s a melancholic parable about not wanting to be on the road, thousands of miles from the ones you love.
Like this? Try this: ‘Beast Of Burden’
6. ‘Brown Sugar’
Mostly written by Jagger, this supercharged rocker brought the Stones crashing into the 1970s. Gone were the thin and reedy guitar sounds of the ‘60s, to be replaced by loud and brash new amplifiers designed for huge stadium shows. ‘Brown Sugar’ was the first of a new breed of Stones single – one that would see them morph into the all-conquering rock’n’roll behemoth we know today.
Like this? Try this: ‘Undercover Of The Night’
5. ‘Shine A Light’
Kicking off with the gentlest of piano riffs, ‘Shine A Light’ builds slowly to an electric, soul-stuffed climax that ranks among the band’s most affecting works. Billy Preston plays keys on the track and Jagger claims their visits to his local church inspired its gospel flavour.
Like this? Try this: ‘Soul Survivor’
Sign up for the newsletter
4. ‘I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)’
The Stones’ best-known tune almost never existed. It was recorded in demo form during a US tour, so Richards was surprised to hear this acoustic “sketch” version blaring on the radio one afternoon. “The song was as basic as the hills, and I thought the fuzz-guitar thing was a bit of a gimmick,” he said recently. “If I’d had my way, ‘Satisfaction’ would never have been released.” Luckily, he didn’t.
Like This? Try this: ‘Bitch’
3. ‘Sympathy For The Devil’
Legend has it that Jagger & co. were in the middle of this brooding, satanic jam when Meredith Hunter was murdered at the Altamont Free Concert in 1969. They were actually playing ‘Under My Thumb’, but that didn’t stop the band ditching ‘Sympathy’ from their live sets for many years after. Thankfully, they brought it back and it’s now a fan favourite.
Like this? Try this: ‘Midnight Rambler’
2. ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’
Fiery and explosive, this late ‘60s rocker marked a return to the band’s blues roots after the ill-judged psychedelia of ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request’. A frequent set-opener and best-loved by its creator (Richards lists ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ as his favourite composition), only ‘Satisfaction’ is more widely-known.
Like this? Try this: ‘Street Fighting Man’
1. ‘Gimme Shelter’
Released during the Vietnam War, this 1969 gem is a moody lament to the hippy dream. Rape, murder and death are all tackled in its brutal lyrics, while Merry Clayton’s lung-bursting vocal soars above Richards’ choppy riff-making. It’s mystical, threatening and exhilarating in equal measure. The Stones have never done anything better.
Like this? Try this: ‘Monkey Man’