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(Credit: Michael Conen)


Check out the groovy isolated rhythm section on The Rolling Stones song 'Sympathy for the Devil'


If you’re looking for a song that captures the vibrancy of the late 1960s, then look no further than The Rolling Stones’ 1968 single ‘Sympathy for The Devil’. Featured on their classic album Beggar’s Banquet, this polyrhythmic freakout lay the foundation for the band’s image as the bad boys of British rock ‘n’ roll, largely because of the accusations of satanism it provoked. As Mick Jagger was forced to reiterate on countless occasions, the song was inspired not by satanic worship but by The Master and Margarita, a book by Mikhail Bulgakova that he’d been introduced to by his then-girlfriend, the British singer Marianne Faithful.

According to Jagger, the song was an attempt to address the dark side of humankind, to acknowledge all of humanity’s failings without fear. Released at a time when man’s desire for mutual destruction was still a scar across the European cityscape, ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ came to soundtrack a moment of reckoning. In a 2002 interview with Rolling Stone, Keith Richards expressed his belief that the track would always have relevance: “‘Sympathy’ is quite an uplifting song,” the guitarist began. “It’s just a matter of looking the Devil in the face. He’s there all the time. I’ve had very close contact with Lucifer – I’ve met him several times. Evil – people tend to bury it and hope it sorts itself out and doesn’t rear its ugly head. ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ is just as appropriate now, with 9/11. There it is again, big time.”

Richards continued: “When that song was written, it was a time of turmoil. It was the first sort of international chaos since World War II. And confusion is not the ally of peace and love. You want to think the world is perfect. Everybody gets sucked into that. And as America has found out to its dismay, you can’t hide. You might as well accept the fact that evil is there and deal with it any way you can. Sympathy for the Devil is a song that says, Don’t forget him. If you confront him, then he’s out of a job.”

In this isolated recording of ‘Sympathy of The Devil’, The Rolling Stones’ rhythm section (Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman) are clearly working their socks off. Joined by the shimmer of maracas, Watts’ syncopated drums are perfectly melded to Wyman’s funk infusions, forming a groove-laden foundation over which Mick Jagger wails that immortal reprise: “Tell me baby, what’s my name?”.

If you haven’t already, you can check out the isolated recording below.