Rolling Stones songs: Slave
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Twenty four hours a day/ Hey, why don’t you go down to the supermarket/ Get something to eat, steal something of the shelves…
Also known as: Black and Blue Jam ; Vagina
Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: Rolling Stones Mobile, Rotterdam, Holland, Jan. 22-Feb. 9 1975; EMI Pathé Marconi Studios, Paris, France, Oct. 11-Nov. 12 1980; Atlantic Studios, NYC, USA, April-June 1981
Guest musicians: Pete Townshend (backup vocals), Billy Preston (organ), Sonny Rollins (sax)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
This rocker is a musical showcase for the band, with a blues feel and a saxophone solo by the jazz great Sonny Rollins. Lyrically, there’s not much to it, with Mick Jagger repeating “do it” and “don’t wanna be your slave” over and over. There is a short spoken part where he asks the lady to steal something for him at the supermarket, but that’s as far as the story develops.
Originally recorded at the Black And Blue sessions in 1974, this song went on for a while and was called “The Black And Blue Jam” before being reworked for the 1981 album Tattoo You. It runs 4:55 on most versions of the vinyl album, but on CD and in digital forms of the album, a longer version running 6:34 was used.
Pete Townshend from The Who sang backup. Some connections between Townshend and The Stones:
Townshend claims he stole his legendary windmill arm swing from Keith Richards.
The Who played at The Stones Rock And Roll Circus concert event in 1968. The film wasn’t released until 1996.
In 1976, Townshend contributed to Ron Wood and Ronnie Lane’s Mahoney’s Last Stand project.
In 1982, following the end of the Stones’ European tour, Mick Jagger accompanied The Who for parts of their farewell tour. The following year, on Mick’s 40th birthday, Townshend wrote an unflattering letter in the London Times commenting on the significance of this event.
Townshend played on Mick Jaggers first solo album in 1984.
In February 1986, Townshend was one of those present when the Stones gave their London club performance in honor of Ian Stewart, joining the band onstage for some Blues numbers.
In January 1989, he inducted The Stones into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 2001, he played on the songs “Gun” and “Joy” for Jagger’s Goddess In The Doorway album.
The original version recorded in 1974 featured Billy Preston on organ, Jeff Beck on guitar, and Nicky Hopkins on piano. Their parts were erased when it was reworked.
The Stones didn’t have a problem working the word “slave” into their songs. Note the opening lines of “Brown Sugar”:
Gold Coast slave ship bound for cotton fields/ Sold in the market down in New Orleans
Sonny Rollins played sax on three Tattoo You tracks: This song, “Waiting On A Friend,” and “Neighbours.” Uncut magazine asked the jazz great how he ended up playing with The Rolling Stones on their album. “My wife, Lucille, convinced me to get involved,” he said. “I was a little bit dismissive when they asked me, but she said, ‘Man, it’s the Stones!’ I was always more of a Beatles man – that Paul McCartney is a great songwriter. But I used to look down on music that I thought wasn’t on the same level as jazz.
Anyway, the Stones got me into a studio and played me a few songs they’d recorded and asked me to play over the top. Kinda riffing, really. They sent me a copy of the record and a lovely letter, but I never listen to my old recordings. It was only when I was in some grocery store in Upstate New York, quite a long time later, where I heard one of those tracks again, and I thought, hey, that’s me! Slave was it called? Yeah, they could get funky, those guys!”
From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
“Slave” took shape during a jam session in Rotterdam while the Stones
were recording Black and Blue. Mick Taylor had left and the band was
looking for a suitable replacement. The first version of this song was
therefore recorded with the help of guitar hero Jeff Beck, and with Nicky
Hopkins on piano and Billy Preston on organ. The words have been
stripped back to their minimum form of expression. When the Stones
decided to dust this particular tape off, Bob Clearmountain had to make
significant changes. Having suppressed Jeff Beck’s guitar and Nicky
Hopkins’s piano, he asked Sonny Rollins to put his stamp on the track and
then remixed the whole thing.
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