rolling stones aftermath what to doCan You Hear the Music?


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Rolling Stones songs: What to Do
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Don’t be late for work again/ Take this time to go to bed…

Written by: Jagger/Richard
Recorded: RCA Studios, Hollywood, USA, March 6-9 1966
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012

From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
Aftermath concludes with an evocation of boredom—the boredom one feels
watching TV or spending one’s money on drinking and dancing until dawn.
The narrator then addresses his contemporaries getting into a train,
worrying about being late for work while he is getting ready to go to bed.
Although predating punk by some ten years, this is not so very different
from the “No future,” “Blank Generation” idea.
The music, on the other hand, is not at all similar to that of the Sex
Pistols or the Clash, groups that would rouse rock music from its lethargy
during the second half of the seventies. It is a pop song that combines
acoustic and electric instruments, adopting the same approach as beat bands
such as the Searchers and the Hollies.

Once again, a drum break from Charlie Watts launches this number in a
style reminiscent of the doo-wop groups of the fifties. “What to Do” is
certainly not the jewel in the Aftermath crown; it is more of a filler. There is
nothing exceptional about the writing, which gives the impression that the
Jagger-Richards duo were simply going through the motions. Mick sings
this ode to boredom with a certain casualness and Beach Boys–style
backing vocals overdubbed by himself and Keith. Fortunately, he
rediscovers his soul-rock style of delivery in the verses and bridges,
particularly the last (1:54), in which he excels, no doubt under the influence
of Otis Redding. At 1:33 there is a slight hiccup in his voice! It is doubtful
whether Brian Jones played any part in the recording as both the acoustic
guitar and rhythm electric (with vibrato) bear the stamp of Keith Richards.
Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts fulfill their roles with their usual assurance
and efficiency. Finally, it seems to be Ian Stewart on piano. “What to Do”
was not included on the US version of Aftermath, only on the UK album.

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