rolling stones dance little sister 1974Can You Hear the Music?


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Rolling Stones songs: Dance Little Sister
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On Saturday night we don’t go home/ We bacchanal, there ain’t no dawn…

Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: Musicland Studios, Munich, Germany, Jan. 14-28 1974; Rolling Stones Mobile, Stargroves, Newbury, England, Apr. 1974; Island Recording Studios, London, England, May 20-25 1974
Guest musicians: Ray Cooper (percussion)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-201

From the Rolling Stones – All the Songs, The Story Behind Every Track book:
The little sister who puts curlers in her hair on a Thursday, but cuts a fine figure in her high-heel shoes and dress so tight the next day is an inhabitant of the Caribbean. In this song, Jagger evokes Frederick Street, the main thoroughfare of Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, which he had visited with Bianca shortly before. The singer even uses various
Trinidadian terms, such as basodee and mamaguey, meaning, respectively, “intoxicated’ and “to tease.” In a sense, “Dance Little Sister” is a revision of sorts of “Honky Tonk Women,” or, if one prefers, a song about those who like to frequent clubs. It was chosen as the B-side of the single “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” released on October 25, 1974.

When Jimmy Page was asked in 1977 for his opinion on Keith Richards’s brushes with the law, the Led Zeppelin guitarist replied rightly enough: “You only have to put on ‘Dance Little Sister’ and you forgive the guy for anything.” This is a rock number as only Keith could write, featuring heavy, aggressive guitar and every bar imbued with the spirit of Chuck Berry. Rather than a riff, it would be more accurate to talk of a rhythm in which each powerful chord rings out percussively and confidently. Keith seems to be on his Telecaster, and the musical motif develops out of the interplay with Bill Wyman’s bass. Charlie Watts provides a perfect beat over which his two partners can interlink, the three of them constituting a top-notch rhythm section. Keith is supported by a second guitar, but the question is, who is playing it?

In all likelihood Mick Taylor, as the phrasing is characteristic of him, although at certain points, Keith’s distinctive style comes through. However, the guitarist in question possesses a dexterity beyond Keith’s grasp. He also uses the whammy bar (listen at 2:30) on his guitar—in all likelihood a Fender Stratocaster—an effect that Keith has never really gone in for. Ian Stewart has deigned to take his place at the piano once more, evidently convinced, and rightly so, by this well-crafted number. Mick Jagger totally immerses himself in this torrent of decibels, brilliantly living up to his reputation. It is just a shame that his voice is slightly undermixed. Listeners will notice that between 3:06 and 3:09 the first voice drops out, leaving only Mick’s own doubling. Is this a technical error or a shortness of breath?