The Rolling Stones, ‘Tumbling Dice’

The Rolling Stones

As Beatlemania strikes for the fourth time – yes, fourth: there was that first one, then the chronological single releases in the 80s, then Anthology, now these rather comely remasters – it seems only fitting to gad about playing Stones records.

But what would The Beatles be like if they were still around today? Notwithstanding some high profile deaths, would we be dismissing them for not having had a Top 10 hit since ‘Got My Mind Set On You’? Would we be saying, “Oh, but you have to see them live to understand. Not that they’ve performed since that rooftop gig in ‘69”? Would we be suggesting their last great peak was when Linda supported an addled Lennon on guitar duties in the early 70s?

Mick Taylor was the Stones’ unsung hero as 60s turned to 70s, initially stepping in when Brian Jones was seemingly not fit for the job, and then way too dead for the job. But the man on Exile On Main Street’s ‘Tumbling Dice’ is still Keef, a trademark riff boogie-ing the song along. It’s an easy, devastated rocker, bang-on cool in its barely glued swagger, and the touchstone for all those would-be Stones. Just pick up Primal Scream’s Give Out But Don’t Be Give Up and jump to ‘Call On Me’. “Carbon-copy” implies a laborious step between the two.

Charlie Watts would be pleased in his dotage to hear Junior praising the drums. She goes on to join the gospel backing for the “baaayyy-beh”s, and she and her sister give it the full lungs for the fading “got to roll me”s, swept up in the ecstatic cyclone of soul-soaked seedy rawk.

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Paul McCartney, ‘Wonderful Christmastime’

I won’t give it its full title, as suggested by one esteemed reader. This record is what Christmas is all about for me. Not because of any great quality, or special essence, but because it was a hit when I was four years old at about that time you understand what Christmas means. Loads of presents. Ever since, those synthesised squelches have been tied up in the whole shebang for me.

Junior is again more interested in the vinyl going around on the turntable. We let her put her hand on it, for a photo op, and she manages to slow it down, speed it up and stop it completely. She thinks this is pretty smart. And hey, it’s a decent remix.

The video was on TMF (or something like that) the other day. What a lady mullet Linda had. A little hedgehog bit on the top, with the rest long and lifeless. You just know that the Levellers were taking notes that day. There are some staggeringly cheap graphics, some forced “let’s stage the show right here” false spontaneity and that pervading air of McCartney bonhomie. See? It’s what the festive season is all about.