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(Credit: Bent Rej)

Music

Hear Charlie Watts isolated drums for Rolling Stones song 'Beast of Burden'

@jackwhatley89

Few bands can authentically claim to have rock and roll running through their veins and The Rolling Stones are certainly one of them. The band, led by a boisterous group of rapscallions, were always provided with a sincere and cultured foundation by their drummer, Charlie Watts. We’re revisiting that foundation on the classic song ‘Beast of Burden’ through the drummer’s isolated studio track.

Charlie Watts joined The Rolling Stones when they were still a mere twinkle in the eyes of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones. Becoming the group’s full-time sticksmith in 1963, Watts developed a watershed style that would not only shape a generation of percussionists but frame him as the archetypal performer. Not concerned with gaining column inches or hogging the spotlight – he had a couple of friends upfront that could do that – Watts set about painting a rhythm section that would soundtrack generations of dancefloor escapades.

Featuring on all of the group’s albums, an accolade he only shares with Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, Watts’ muted delivery and stylish performance has often landed him in the argument for taking the “world’s greatest drummer” accolade. But, like the rest of the group, Watts’ penchant for performing came from an innate connection to the instrument and the music. It gave the drummer a wonderfully balanced delivery. Whether on stage or in the studio, Watts was always supremely cultured.

Alongside Jagger and Richards, Watts was the only original member of the Rolling Stones to play on all their albums, a mean feat considering the wanton trail of hedonistic destruction they left in their path. As well as being a talented musician, Watts also had a penchant for cricket, football and art. In fact, it would be fitting to label him an artist rather than a musician.

One moment that saw the drummer flourish was on the stellar Stones number, ‘Beast of Buden’, a song that remains a shining jewel in the band’s crown. Largely because it sees The Rolling Stones surprise the audience, and not for the first time, often, when we’re expecting a chunky riff of hard rock proportions, Richards and the band change things up. Much like on ‘Beast of Burden’, which acts as one of Richards’ most personal numbers — it’s a rare sight for Stones fans.

“Those who say it’s about one woman, in particular, they’ve got it all wrong,” claimed Richards. “We were trying to write for a slightly broader audience than just Anita Pallenberg or Marianne Faithfull. Although that’s not to say they didn’t have some influence in there somewhere. I mean, what’s close by is close by! I’ve always felt it’s one of my best soul songs. It was another strict collaboration between Mick and me.”

Hazy and halcyon in equal measure, the track goes a long way to cover the sincere emotion at the band’s heart. This effortless compulsion to create bubbling rhythm in the studio melting pot and, more often than not, Charlie Watts is the chef keeping the swirl moving.

Below, listening to the isolated drum track for ‘Beast of Burden’, we can feel the very heartbeat of The Rolling Stones.

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