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Rolling Stones songs: Carol
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Climb into my machine so we can groove on out/ I know some swinging little joint where we can jump and shout…
Written by: Berry
Recorded: Regent Sounds Studios, London, England, Jan. 3 1964
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
This song is about a boy who must learn to dance or risk losing Carol to other men. He insists he will learn, and tempts her with a trip to a jumping little joint he knows about.
Berry was in his 30s when he was writing songs like this one about teenagers. His assistant, Francine Gillium, helped him get in the right mindset by telling him about a high school she looked after. Berry stayed away from politics and topical references in his songs, knowing that stories about the tribulations of young love would be evergreen.
The Rolling Stones covered this on their first album in 1964. They were the first to bring this and many other R&B songs to a white audience.
Chuck Berry got the name Carol from the daughter of Clyde McPhatter’s girlfriend’s daughter. McPhatter was popular R&B singer who fronted The Drifters for a time.
The Beatles recorded this song for a BBC radio special in 1963. This recording was released in 1994 of on the Live At The BBC album.
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
Like many Chuck Berry songs, “Carol” is an ode to adolescence, with the
inevitable sleek automobiles, rock ’n’ roll dancing joints, and, of course, the
exaltation of female sensuality. To put it in a nutshell, it is a song on which
the Chuck Berry legend was founded. It was released as a single in August
1958 (with “Hey Pedro” as the B-side) and reached number 18 on the
Following “Come On” and various other numbers they had performed
onstage, the Rolling Stones now dipped into the Chuck Berry repertoire
again for their first album. In fact “Carol,” recorded on January 3, 1964,
was, along with “Route 66,” one of the first tracks they completed for it.
They imbue it with the same energy as “Route 66,” moreover, and one can
only admire the way Keith and Brian complement each other. Compared to
Chuck Berry’s version, the Stones’ seems to have been given a shot of
adrenaline. Carried along by an excellent rhythm section consisting of
Charlie (whose bass drum pedal is still squeaking!), Bill, and Brian, Keith,
on his Harmony, plays jubilant guitar licks that, it has to be said, closely
resemble those of the inventor of the duckwalk—including the actual solo.
Mick, who sings with a slight delay, plays his part with assurance and sets
the whole thing alight. The only thing lacking is Ian Stewart’s piano, an
instrument that is nevertheless present on Berry’s version. Finally,
prominent and indispensable hand claps have been overdubbed. One thing
to note is the very poor fade-out, which begins in the wrong place and
continues for too long.
Jimmy Page, who attended some of the Stones’ early gigs, remembers
this Chuck Berry cover in particular: “They did Carol and it sounds raw as
fuck, they were really spitting it out. The whole vibe of it was just great.
Carol was the sort of thing we’d been listening to for a number of years,
and all of a sudden there’s a band of guys doing it in your living room.
For a period of several years, “Carol” was to become one of the group’s
bravura stage numbers, One of their best versions can be found on the
album Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! (1970)
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Categories: Can You Hear the Music?