rolling stones aftermath uk take it or leave itCan You Hear the Music?


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Rolling Stones songs: Take It or Leave It
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You can turn off and on more times/ Than a flashin’ neon sign…

Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: RCA Studios, Hollywood, USA, Dec. 3-8 1965
Guest musicians: Jack Nitzsche (organ)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012

From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
“Take It or Leave It” resembles the earliest songs by Mick Jagger and Keith
Richards, composed not so much at the request of, but rather on the orders
of Andrew Loog Oldham. An unpretentious song, it nevertheless attests to
Mick’s feel for a telling phrase and to Keith’s ability to write memorable
The lyrics once again concern the difficult relations between men and
women. To what is the narrator referring with Just take it or leave it? Quite
simply his status as a lover, and he has no shortage of grievances with
which to reproach his former girlfriend: When you want you’re bad/But you
can be so kind.
And then: There’ve been times when you tried/Makin’ eyes
at all my so-called friends.

“Take It or Leave It” may indeed have been suggested by Andrew Loog
Oldham, who was an unconditional admirer of Phil Spector. It certainly has
to be acknowledged that the Stones were navigating what were, for them,
uncharted waters, far from their blues-rock roots. This track never ceases to
surprise, and even, perhaps, disconcert, above all when Mick and Keith start
singing their somewhat indigestible oh la la la ta ta tas. In the intro, Keith
strikes up martial-sounding chords on his acoustic (which he doubletracks),
supported by Charlie’s snare drum sounding like a firing squad. The
latter can also be heard playing finger cymbals, very much in the Spector
spirit. Only castanets could give the track any more color than it already
has. Brian Jones plays organ throughout, while Jack Nitzsche plays
harpsichord in the refrains and during the oh la las. Bill’s is very recessed
and offers little real support. One may well wonder what exactly was going
through Mick’s head as he performed his song in a resigned voice. Was it
his groupies he was targeting? Might he have been trying to move or
unsettle them? At Oldham’s suggestion? He double-tracks his own voice in
the refrains and is backed by Keith on harmonies. The results are somewhat
strange, and ultimately it is not easy to reach an objective opinion on this
song. The Stones are full of surprises!

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