rolling stones down in the hole 1980Can You Hear the Music?


Rolling Stones songs: Down in the Hole
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None of your money/ Will buy you forgiveness/ None of your jewelry/ None of your gold…

Written by: Jagger/Richards
Recorded: EMI Pathé Marconi Studios, Paris, France, June 10-Oct. 19 1979
Guest musicians: Sugar Blue (harmonica)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012

From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
Can all the money in the world buy forgiveness, keep us in good health, and
preserve us from insanity or unhappiness? Such are the questions Mick
Jagger asks in this song. Musically, it is a case of the band returning to its
origins. And it is probably no exaggeration to claim that “Down in the
Hole” proves that the Rolling Stones are unrivaled when it comes to singing
the blues. Still at the peak of their glory, the London quintet remained the
worthy successors to the founders of modern blues, as embodied in the
fifties by Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Little Walter. Alongside the
Stones, Sugar Blue displays the full extent of his talent and inspiration on
the harmonica. The only shame is that the Rolling Stones have never
performed “Down in the Hole” live.
Mick Jagger would later claim in an interview that “Down in the Hole” was
recorded in barely two takes. And it is tempting to believe him, so strong a
sense of spontaneity does the track radiate, unlike “Where the Boys Go,”
which precedes it on the album. The Stones cannot deny their roots, and
their automatic reflexes are still intact. This is also one of the rare occasions
when a track on a studio album begins with a fade-in, offering further proof
that this recording was made pretty well on the spot. Sugar Blue plays the
harmonica intro with extraordinary feeling and produces an extraordinary
sound, as befits one of the very best. “He obviously knows he’s great, but
he doesn’t know how valuable he is,” Ron Wood would later comment,
full of admiration. Charlie accompanies him with some intense drum work,
before each musician in turn then immerses himself in this minor-key blues.
Bill provides powerful, weighty support, forming a backbone around which
the guitars of Keith and Ron are able to express themselves. Keith chooses
to play short, lead-type phrases, while Ron is mainly on rhythm, but they
share a solo at 1:57 (and also in the coda), each answering the other with no
overlapping. This creates an impression of perfect complementarity, to an
even greater extent than during the time of Mick Taylor, who, as an outsand-out
soloist, did not necessarily look to engage in interplay with his fellow guitarist.
Mick Jagger is perfect. The blues is his preferred genre, and he conveys
this through his masterly performance. The Stones are never as good as
when they return to their first love.

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