SATAN 🖤 PSYCHEDELIA

The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones No.2

Out Of Our Heads

Aftermath

Between The Buttons

Their Satanic Majesties Request

Derided by some at the time as a second-rate Sgt Pepper or a cynical (and late) cash in on so-called Summer of Love psychedelia, Their Satanic Majesties Request is, simply put, neither.

Full of great uses of studio effects plus some terrific songs, TSMR manages the extraordinary feat of being both cheerily trippy and a flower power shadow play.

Following the marvellous ’67 single “We Love You” b/w “Dandelion”, Satanic Majesties arrived late in the same year in a striking cover. The band sit, fantastically costumed, in a psychedelic landscape floating in a silver-blue sky bedecked with wispy clouds—or perhaps strands of smoke? As if that wasn’t dramatic enough, the portrait was produced as a lenticular photo, giving a woozy depth to the whole diorama. You’d need to remortgage your house to buy a UK original today.

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The trippy package continues on the back, with the text box surround featuring the four elements, while inside the gatefold was a mandala (the study of which guarantees cosmic transcendence, or at least more wooziness) and a kind of hippy Bosch collage. It was, in short, a spectacular package for a band whose previous five album covers all sported no more than downbeat photos of the band.

As an unashamed apologist for Satanic Majesties, I’ll resist the temptation to trumpet its glories other than mentioning a couple of highlights and the primary lowlight.

“She’s a rainbow” is such a terrific single that it actually deserves its place on every Gold FM playlist in the world. A great melody and solid playing support a love song unique enough to still bring a smile. My personal favourites are “Citadel”, dripping with impressionistic alienation, and “The lantern”. Oh, and one cannot overlook the mellotron-soaked isolation of “2000 light years from home”.

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The low point is the last track on side one, the indulgence of “Sing this all together (see what happens)”. What actually happens is that a seemingly endless musical collage deconstructs the opening song (“Sing this all together”) but with little sense of goal or purpose. At well over eight minutes, it is bewildering that this was included over the double-scoop single from three months earlier. Of course, that was the way of things then—The Beatles put out a slew of non-album singles too—but I can’t help thinking that if “We love you” and “Dandelion” had been included on Their Satanic Majesties Request, it would have not had to wait decades for reappraisal, but would instead have been considered one of the jewels of the psychedelic era.

As for The Rolling Stones, they certainly did not linger in hippy land.

Their next single was “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”.

A series of articles about sixth albums to mark a 6th anniversary

#3 The 60s

#2 The 90s

#1 The 70s

The introduction to the series is here

14 comments

  1. This is the Stones album I like to play when visited by a true Stones fan, never fails to polarize. I like it because it’s not like all the others, although there is a lot to like on the others.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Nicely put, sir!

      Like

  2. I’m in agreement with you that Sing This All Together… is the low point here. I do like this one, but at times, that 8 minutes seems to overshadow the rest. I guess it all depends on my mood… or whether I’m listening to try and convince a friend they are wrong about this one… cause as much as I would love to turn someone on to this one from a stance of them believing it to be utter tripe, ultimately I’m not ever gonna do that, cause that experience is personal, isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Personal responses have a place, but that is not the only criteria for quality. That’s like saying ‘all my opinions are true’, which is clearly false. They are just opinions. My experience is that when people say ‘that’s shite’ they mean ‘I don’t like it’, which is quite different.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aye, of course. I perhaps lacked clarity there. I can appreciate good song craft and acknowledge when an album or song is very good but just not my cup of coffee. But I know that’s not always the case. With this one, I know a few who likely mean ‘I don’t like it’ and, well, I guess I’m not likely to convince them otherwise. Especially when the extended Sing This All Together is just no good.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Play ’em the single “We Love You” + “Dandelion” and tell ’em it was an administrative oversight that “Sing this” got on instead. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, how have I never seen this cover art before?! Or perhaps I did see it, and my brain initiated some sort of protective protocol. An amazing ’60’s artifact, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a truly fabulous piece of album cover art, isn’t it Robert? There was even a re-issue quite recently that had the ‘hologram’ lenticular cover, for that fully psychedelic effect!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent assessment.
    Love this album, always have. People don’t realize, but “TSMR” (and “Sgt Peppers”, and even more importantly “Forever Changes” by Love) were iconic albums by the best of the best that were passionately needed during the most important year in the Psychedelic Era.
    Total agreement on “We Love You” and “Dandelion” inclusion.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. YUK! Captain Devil’s Advocate here: The sole cosmic purpose of this album was to purge the Stones of all their feeble flowery urges before they could go into the studio and cut my favourite single of all-time ever.

    (I really like ‘2000 Light Years From Home’ and ‘The Lantern’ but I’m going to pretend I don’t, because otherwise it weakens my argument and the other reviewers will pick on me at playtime).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This review is a good kick in my arse to re-listen to the album. I probably listened to it back in, let’s see… oh, probably 1967 when one of my sisters’ brought it home. Oops. Thanks for the kick, Bruce. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s hilarious, Marty. Thanks for the big grin! If you can be bothered, try to listen to the preceding single (“We love you” b/w “Dandelion”) at the same time. I hope you might be pleasantly surprised. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You know, that reminds me of another blog post on TSMR. Now, what was it? … Oh yes, it was the one I wrote back in April 2015. Delighted to see we’re in agreement, here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great minds, and all that. 🙂

      Like

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