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Rolling Stones unreleased: Sister Morphine (early version)
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Written by: Jagger/Richard/Faithfull
Recorded: Olympic Sound Studios, London, England, May 13-June 1968
Guest musicians: Nicky Hopkins (piano)
Original version with different lyrics recorded during the BEGGARS BANQUET sessions, with Nicky Hopkins on piano (instead of Ry Cooder and Jack Nitzsche, who appeared in the official version released in STICKY FINGERS in 1971)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012
“Sister Morphine” is a song written by Marianne Faithfull, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Faithfull released the original version of the song as the B-side to her Decca Records single “Something Better” on 21 February 1969. A different version was released two years later by the Rolling Stones for their 1971 album Sticky Fingers. Jagger produced the track.
In the United Kingdom, Faithfull’s single was withdrawn by Decca due to the drug reference in the title, after an estimated 500 copies had been issued, but in other countries the single remained in release. In some territories such as the Netherlands, Italy and Japan, “Sister Morphine” appeared on the A-side. In addition, the French, US and Netherlands editions of the single actually featured alternate versions of both sides to the UK release. Faithfull performed “Something Better” sung live to a backing track at The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, but the programme was never televised and no contemporary performance of “Sister Morphine” is known.
The Stones’ version, with slightly different lyrics, featured Jagger on vocals, Richards on acoustic guitar and backing vocals, Cooder and Nitzsche again on slide guitar and piano respectively, Bill Wyman on bass, and Watts again on drums.
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