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Released in the UK in January 1967 by Decca Records and February by London Records in the US – Between The Buttons was the Rolling Stones’ fifth British and seventh US studio album. Released as the follow-up to Aftermath, this album marked a high point in the band’s career, continuing their ventures into psychedelia and baroque pop balladry, it is among the band’s most musically eclectic works. Brian Jones sidelined his guitar on much of the album, instead playing a wide variety of other instruments including organ, marimba, vibraphone, and kazoo. Piano contributions came from two session players: former Rolling Stones member Ian Stewart and frequent contributor and studio legend Jack Nitzsche. It was the last album produced by Andrew Loog Oldham, the band’s manager and producer of all of their albums to this point.
The album has one of the most striking sleeves of the period, featuring a classic Gered Mankowitz image on the cover. The photo shoot took place at 5:30 in the morning following an all-night recording session at Olympic Studios. Using a home-made camera filter constructed of black card, glass and Vaseline, Mankowitz created the effect of the Stones dissolving into their surroundings – according to Mankowitz… “to capture the ethereal, druggy feel of the time; that feeling at the end of the night when dawn was breaking and they’d been up all night making music, stoned.”
The songs continued Aftermath’s lyrics of acute social observation and savage insight, their earlier raw, rootsy power enhanced by other influences of the period – notably The Beatles, The Kinks, and again Dylan. It is one of their strongest, most varied LPs, with many great songs that remain unknown to all but Stones devotees.
The inventive arrangements and innovative instrumentation on brooding near-classics like All Sold Out, My Obsession and Yesterday’s Papers brought a new dimension to the music. She Smiled Sweetly shows their hidden romantic side at its best, Connection is one of the record’s few pieces of more conventional driving rock and album closer Something Happened To Me Yesterday includes Keith’s first solo vocal.
The US version includes contemporaneous hits – the two songs that gave the group a double-sided number one in early 1967: the shameless and controversial Let’s Spend The Night Together and the beautiful, melancholy Ruby Tuesday.
1. Let’s Spend The Night Together
2. Yesterdays’ Papers
3. Ruby Tuesday
5. She Smiled Sweetly
6. Cool, Calm & Collected
1. All Sold Out
2. My Obsession
3. Who’s Been Sleeping Here?
5. Miss Amanda Jones
6. Something Happened To Me Yesterday
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