Rolling Stones songs: Out of Control
*Click for MORE ROLLING STONES SONGS 1962-PRESENT
I was standing by the bridges/ Where the dark water flows…
Written by: Jagger/Richards
Recorded: Ocean Way Recording Studios, Hollywood, USA, March 13-July 1997
Guest musicians: Waddy Wachtel (guitar), Danny Saber (bass and clavinet), Don Was (piano), Jim Keltner (percussion), Jamie Muhoberac (keyboards), Blondie Chaplin and Bernard Fowler (backing vocals)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
“Out of Control” was largely inspired by the bass line of “Papa Was a
Rollin’ Stone,” a composition by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for
the Temptations. It is also one of the best tracks on Bridges to Babylon.
Who is the character embodied by Mick Jagger in the song? The solitary
individual is strolling by a bridge spanning dark waters and talking to a
stranger about times gone by. And he remembers: I was young/I was
foolish. Now he describes himself as out of control, and appeals for help…
So who is he? A rock star fallen from grace? A condemned man? (This
seems possible in view of the police pointing him to his final destination)
Just like the lyrics, the musical atmosphere of “Out of Control” is strange
and oppressive, with a harmonica part that recalls the best passage on
“Gimme Shelter.” This song was chosen as the A-side of the third single
from Bridges to Babylon. It peaked at number 51 on the British charts in
August 1998 (with the Radio Edit as the B-side).
The bass is not the only aspect of “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” to have
inspired the Glimmer Twins in the verses of “Out of Control.” Jagger is on
wah-wah guitar, and flings out disembodied chords just like those in the
Temptations number. Furthermore, in addition to the rhythm, which is also
similar, the Stones singer goes as far as to reproduce the beginning of the
trumpet theme on the harmonica, at precisely 2:47 (0:32 on “Papa Was a
Rollin’ Stone”). This is a witty allusion that demonstrates how much Mick
must have liked the Motown hit. Moving beyond this pastiche, the rest of
his harmonica part is also superb, especially the closing solo (4:06), with a
sound and phrasing that mark Jagger as one of the best harmonica players in
all of rock. The refrains, meanwhile, bear the stamp of the Stones, and the
entire band pulls out all the stops to support Jagger as he howls Now I’m out
of control, with Keith, Ronnie, and Waddy Wachtel on distorted, ill-tempered
guitars, the latter apparently also playing a number of solo passages.
With an excellent rhythm section, keyboards that are very prominent
without being intrusive, and effective support from the backing
vocals, “Out of Control” is one of the triumphs of the album.
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Categories: Can You Hear the Music?