On Second Thought: The Rolling Stones – Flowers (1967)

At the time Flowers appeared, the Rolling Stones were one of the biggest bands on earth. Having initially made their mark as bluesy rebels, the British quintet, like the majority of artists of the day, started shedding their core influence in preference of experimental exercises, and this disc examines such a transition.

Originally distributed only in America and not a studio effort, Flowers (London Records) is a hodgepodge of previously unreleased material, album tracks, and hit singles.

Guided by an arresting pop-rock finish, “Ride On Baby,” a sweet and sincere cover of Smokey Robinson’s “My Girl,” and the smirking sarcasm of the jaunty “Sittin’ on a Fence” are songs that never reached the vinyl stage, while the psychedelic-fringed “Mother’s Little Helper,” the classical carvings of “Ruby Tuesday,” the sexy wallop of “Let’s Spend The Night Together,” the mature baroque mannerisms of “Lady Jane,” and the noisy clatter of “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow” remain in the chart-topping section of the wing.

However, there’s no doubt the jewel that sparkles the brightest is “Please Go Home,” which inventively combines head-bobbing Bo Diddley inspired shuffles with sheets of hissing distortion. Beginning on soft and gentle footing, “Out Of Time” eventually swells into a powerful performance, “Backstreet Girl” features some cool accordion work amidst rather sparse and dainty arrangements, and “Take It Or Leave It” flutters to an old school styled chorus of “la la la la’s” and a hook interesting and fetching enough to save it from being banished to the cookie cutter bin.

An often forgotten item in the band’s catalog, Flowers suggests they were on the verge of turning into a smartly-suited pop act along the lines of the Beatles, the Kinks, and the Hollies. But the Rolling Stones were simply going through a phase, flirting with newfangled ideas and procedures.

Come 1968, the band returned to the music that first and foremost moved their souls and issued the brilliant Beggar’s Banquet, an album strutting and snarling with sleazy hard rocking sounds. But for a brief moment there, they were actually a great pop band, and Flowers logs in as a curiously fine overview of their polish and precision period.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 on the national charts with "Stand By Me" - which is ironically one of her favorite songs, especially the version by John Lennon. She has also contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as associate editor of Rock Beat International. Paterson's own publications have included Inside Out, and Twist And Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

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