rolling stones infamy 2005Can You Hear the Music?


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Rolling Stones songs: Infamy
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Oh why have you got it in for me/ Things they are not what they seem…

Written by: Jagger/Richards
Recorded: Studio France, West Indies, Nov. 2004; Henson Recording Studios, Los Angeles, USA, March 7-9 and June 6-28 2005
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012

From the Rolling Stones – All the Songs, The Story Behind Every Track book:
A Bigger Bang concludes with a song in which the complicity between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards is absolute. It’s you that write the song baby/But it’s me who’s got to sing. Furthermore they recorded it by themselves, with support only from Charlie Watts on drums and Blondie Chaplin on backing vocals. All in all, the lyrics are pretty enigmatic. Things they are not what they seem/You’re living in a nightmare, baby/But I mistook it for a dream: is it the couple in the hot seat once again? Are relationships at home being seen as the source of infamy? One hardly dares think the song could be about the relationship between the Glimmer Twins!

Other than the instrumental bridge, “Infamy” is based on a sequence of three main chords, and the track has a home studio ring to it from beginning to end. There is nothing pejorative about this; it simply implies a different way of working, with the use of sequencer programming and more of a doit-yourself mentality. Charlie’s drumming, which is almost certainly on a rhythm loop, contributes the necessary groove that would be virtually impossible to obtain from a programmed machine. Mick and Keith are apparently both playing tambourine, one of them entering later on in the track (3:11). The track opens with the sound of an organ, before Keith, on a loop, launches into a riff whose sound is marked by phasing or flanging.

The structure of “Infamy” calls to mind some of the early work by the Cure, although admittedly somewhat less glacial. Acoustic and electric guitars plus other keyboards figure in the instrumentation, and Keith also plays bass, although not terribly effectively and without enough volume. Mick plays some good phrases on the harmonica, and sings backing vocals alongside Blondie. Keith, meanwhile, is on lead vocals and gives a good performance, his timbre on the hoarse side—as is only proper. But what are we to make of this last track? The Glimmer Twins are now able to take care of virtually all the instrumental parts themselves, we discover. But is this really the Rolling Stones?