rolling stones cops and robbers 1964Can You Hear the Music?


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Rolling Stones songs: Cops and Robbers

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An’ then he said: “You see this rock I got in my hand?/ This is a 38 pistol built on a 45 frame…

Written by: Diddley
Recorded: ‘Blues In Rhythm’ (BBC Network, UK radio), Candem Theatre, London, England, March 19 1964

Cops and Robbers, another strident Bo Diddley number with Brian Jones in harmonica, was the lead track on a Stones’ famous 7 inch bootleg extended play single.

rolling stones cops and robbers ep

From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs, The Story Behind Every Track book:
“Cops and Robbers” marked (almost!) a return to square one. A month before the UK launch of their first album, on March 19, 1964, the Rolling Stones were booked to appear at the Camden Theatre in London. The concert was broadcast by the BBC as part of a program called Blues in Rhythm (broadcast on May 9), which was notable for being the first sign of radio taking an interest in English rock ’n’ roll, a new genre of music that was now taking its first hesitant steps. A bootleg recording bearing the title “BBC Sessions” brings together fifty-seven tracks by the London group, recorded between October 16, 1963, and September 18, 1965, at the Maida Vale Studios (a complex of studios that included the Camden Theatre), and also at the Wembley Empire Pool and the Playhouse Theatre.

Included among these numbers was “Cops and Robbers.” This blues track, composed by Kent Harris (“Shoppin’ for Clothes” by the Coasters was another of his songs!), was first recorded by Bo Diddley, coming out as a single from Checker Records on November 10, 1956 (together with “Down Home Train”). The Rolling Stones adapted it, with Brian Jones’s already wonderful harmonica playing and vocals by Mick Jagger. The lyrics tell the curious story of a driver who stops at a crossroads to help a man who turns out to be a robber on the run armed with a gun. An excellent example of urban blues, “Cops and Robbers” never came out on an official Rolling Stones disc until the compilation GRRR! was produced. It is on the A-side of the vinyl EP along with “Route 66,” the Bside featuring “You Better Move On” and “Mona.”

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