The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones No.2
Out Of Our Heads
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.
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”.
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