Album: 12 X 5
. . .
It almost goes without saying, but the Rolling Stones covered a lot of Chuck Berry songs in their first decade: their first-ever single of course was Berry’s “Come On,” and they even stuck a live version of “Let it Rock” as the b-side to “Brown Sugar” as late as 1971.
And out of all of those covers, my favorite is their rendition of “Around and Around,” which originally graced the b-side of “Johnny B. Goode,” making it a pretty great single.
And, a thematically consistent single, as like “Around and Around” is another rock ‘n’ roll fantasy, this time about a perfect, all-night rocking club.
How fun! And speaking of fun, the Stones even got to record their take on “Around and Around” in the same studio — Chess — that Berry did. And this was before they were really anything but a rumour in the U.S. But they somehow swing two different sessions there, and recorded a bunch of amazing tracks that sounded harder than any rock and roll previously recorded.
I said the joint was rocking
Uh, going round and round
Yeah, reeling and a rocking
What a crazy sound
And they never stopped rocking
Till the moon went down
That said, their arrangement of “Around and Around” was pretty faithful to the origina. like Berry, the Stones sing that chorus and the first verse in kind of a stop time: Mick’s basically singing the lyrics acapella, with the full band answering him the full riff, Charlie hammering his snare and Keith adding some leads during the verse.
But it’s on the second chorus where “Around and Around” takes off: after a tom roll from Charlie, Brian and Keith turn the distortion up on their guitars and Ian Stewart utterly explodes on piano, playing circles around the rest of the song, as Bill and Charlie swing the fuck out of it.
After that second verse, it’s solo time! Well, kinda, as Keith is at first content to play the same five-note hook over and over again, jumping out from the rest of the band’s cacophony. Then, just when you think he’s content to play that, he jumps into a chordal solo, smashing at his guitar until they all cool out for the second verse.
After that, it’s the same motif: stop-time verse, noisy chorus, Keith with the solo — this time more measured and deadly — taking them to the fade, having just fully bested their hero with absolutely definitive version of the song.
While “Around and Around” was never a single in either the U.S. or the U.K., it opened up their second U.S. album, the delightful 12 x 5, and they liked their rendition enough to play it on both the Ed Sullivan show and the T.A.M.I. Show film.
“Around and Around”
“Around and Around” live on the Ed Sullivan Show, 1964
“Around and Around” live on the T.A.M.I. Show, 1964
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