rolling stones between the buttons 1966Can You Hear the Music?


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Rolling Stones songs: Complicated
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She knows just how to please her man/ Softer than a baby lamb…

Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: RCA Studios, Hollywood, USA, Aug. 3-7 1966; Olympic Sound Studios, London, England, Nov. 9-Dec. 6 1966
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012

From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
She’s educated/Doesn’t give a damn, she’s underrated. She treats me oh so
kind, [She] does the same thing every day/But she’s dedicated/To having her
own way/She’s very complicated
: these lines, sung with spirit by Mick
Jagger in “Complicated,” are no doubt addressed to Marianne Faithfull,
who succeeded Chrissie Shrimpton as the object of the singer’s affection.
Strongly attracted to Marianne, Jagger was nevertheless aware that she
could be a threat both to him and the other members of the group because of
her continual run-ins with the authorities. “Mick obviously holds me
responsible for a lot of what subsequently happened,” writes Marianne
Faithfull in her autobiography. “He used to say that I talked too much and
the things I said were dangerous.” Marianne was nothing if not complicated.

And the song itself is far from straightforward. The instrumental track was
initially recorded at RCA with Dave Hassinger. Made up of numerous
instrumental breaks, it gives the impression of being a strange, not fully
finished composition, split into distinct sections and not properly mastered
by the Stones. Charlie Watts takes a prominent role, playing the intro and
no less than two other solo breaks with plenty of reverb. He is assisted by
Mick Jagger (or possibly Jack Nitzsche?) on the tambourine, added in
London in November. “Complicated” also gives Keith Richards plenty to
do. He can be heard on his Fender Precision bass in the intro (from 0:03),
thereafter doubling Bill’s Vox Wyman. He also plays acoustic rhythm on his
Gibson Hummingbird, and fuzz guitar to accompany the harmonies he
shares with Mick, which, incidentally, are not always perfectly in tune
(listen at 1:47). The most that can be said for these is that they are
reasonably quirky, with a flower power feel that is nevertheless a little out
of place in this context. Brian Jones seems to play electric rhythm guitar
(Gibson Firebird VII) as well as the organ part, probably on a Vox
Continental. Also present at the RCA sessions was Jack Nitzsche, whose
touch can be recognized on the piano. “Complicated” gives the impression
of having been difficult to record as a result of being too ambitious or too
far removed from the musical world of the group. It nevertheless possesses
a certain charm.

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