Review Summary: "Shark reviews the Rolling Stones because why not?" part 5
The Rolling Stones were on a roll commercially speaking in their early days. Their debut had been met with critical and commercial acclaim, and 12x5
had spawned a number of hits in the United States. But the thing was back in those days English bands would record enough songs for two albums and sell the first one in the Americas. The American one was released earlier due to the the LP format being far more popular in those parts than in their native country England, and a little bit later would release a second album exclusively in Europe. So as the Stones were celebrating their success on the western side of the Atlantic, their European sophomore album was still waiting to be released. The Rolling Stones No. 2
and its North American counterpart 12x5
were essentially 2 sides of the same coin. The songs were both recorded in the same sessions, and released within less than a year of one another. Even the cover arts that were used for both albums were taken in the same photo session. The reason I mention this is because this translates musically as well. Both albums are mixes of old-school R&B covers and original material, and level of quality and consistency from front to back. The two albums even share a bit of overlap. The four tracks "Under the Boardwalk," "Suzie Q," "Grown Up Wrong," and "Time Is on My Side" appear on both albums. The Americans and Brits may have ended up with different products, but at least they heard something similar to the album they were missing out on.
The two albums do have a major musical difference however. Where 12x5
had an almost even balance between covers and original tracks, No. 2
is almost entirely covers, with only 3 out of the 12 tracks actually written by members of the group as opposed to artists before the Stones’ time. On one hand, this helps No. 2
as the covers are all solid and give the album a sense of consistency. On the other hand, the original tracks on 12x5
, while not particularly strong, were signs of progression for the band as opposed to the band’s debut which primarily consisted of R&B covers.
Essentially, The Rolling Stones No. 2
is more of the same stuff that made up the two albums they released up to that point. Some really good covers of old-school R&B, and a couple original tracks that aren’t quite as strong, leading to yet another strong early Stones album. But while it’s another solid entry with solid tunes that make up for an overall solid listen, it’s not going to be long before the Stones make their true breakthrough with Out of Our Heads
, which released the same year.