The Rolling Stones have a credibility problem. It’s nothing to do with their longevity or their wealth. It’s to do with their lead singer. Granted, he is a great frontman with a distinctive voice — but his strutting persona and his dancing-by-numbers gives the impression of a politician going through the gears in a speech to the party conference.
According to no less an authority than Peter Mandelson, Tony Blair was so star-struck by Mick Jagger at their first meeting that he blurted out, ‘I just want to say how much you’ve always meant to me’. That Tony Blair now looks like he could be Mick Jagger’s dad doesn’t change the fact that the two men seem to have a lot in common — both were once highly visible public figures who now appear remote and inaccessible. They were both once fired with the zeal of youth and the desire for change, but now they operate mainly in the off-shore world of politicians, financiers and heads of state.
And yet there may have been a time when Mick Jagger and The Stones were actually something genuinely novel and relevant, something that was both cool and British at the same time.
From 1965-1967 they released records that now sound like those you find on modern influential music blogs such as Pitchfork or Gorilla vs Bear. These songs were, by and large, sung in an English accent. They were songs which influenced and reflected their era. They were produced in Brian Jones’s final flourish as a creative force. Jagger was hungry but still retained a certain youthful charm and Keith Richards was revelling in his newly discovered prowess as a songwriter as opposed to a riff-meister. It was the era that produced ‘Satisfaction’, a song that defies analysis — simple, insistent, irresistible and unforgettable.