Musicians are a strange bunch. Very particular about their artistic vision, both aesthetically and musically, if they’re not happy with a specific creation by a bandmate – or if it doesn’t fit precisely with their idea of what the outcome of an exercise should be – they soon find themselves viewing the whole project as tainted.
Of course, this outlook is fair enough, as music, like any art, is a labour of love, and the amount of time and effort spent cultivating a project, whether it be an album or single, is extensive. So, to get to the end of a month’s worth of work, or whatever be the time scale, and to have its whole worth undermined by either the production, a bandmates part, or any other contributing factor, can be a hard pill to swallow. Much like conceding a goal in injury time, failure to get it over the line can ruin everything and will forever taint that moment when looking back.
There have been countless instances in which musicians have discussed how they don’t feel any particular affinity to a piece of work because it was overshadowed by one factor or another. Radiohead’s ‘Creep‘ and The Beatles’ Let It Be are two examples that instantly spring to mind.
Another huge band have also had their fair share of duds, and that is The Rolling Stones. Given that their career has been such a prolonged one, it is understandable that when the band members reflect on their vast discography, a few moments stand out that they’re not overly proud of. In 1995, frontman Mick Jagger revealed that there is one album in particular that he feels could have been much better.
As part of the lengthy interview, ‘Mick Jagger Remembers’ with Jann S. Wenner, Jagger spoke at length about all of The Stones’ material that he wasn’t a fan of, both songs and albums. He also shared Wenner’s belief that The Stones’ back catalogue was characterised by ups and downs. At one point during the interview, Wenner asked Jagger what he thought about the band’s classic 1967 album, Between the Buttons. Firstly, Jagger revealed that the album had an unusual fan: “Frank Zappa used to say he really liked it,” he said. However, the singer also explained: “It’s a good record, but it was unfortunately rather spoiled. We recorded it in London on four-track machines. We bounced it back to do overdubs so many times, we lost the sound of a lot of it.”
As he felt the record was “rather spoiled”, Jagger told Wenner that Between the Buttons holds no real meaning to him. He then discussed what he feels is the scarcity of the album’s redeeming features.
Jagger said: “‘My Obsession’, that’s a good one. They sounded so great, but then, later on, I was really disappointed with it. Isn’t ‘Ruby Tuesday’ on there or something? I don’t think the rest of the songs are that brilliant. ‘Ruby Tuesday’ is good.”
Explaining why he loved the band’s classic ballad, he said: “It’s just a nice melody, really.” Jagger concluded: “And a lovely lyric. Neither of which I wrote, but I always enjoy singing it. But I agree with you about the rest of the songs – I don’t think they’re there. I don’t think I thought they were very good at the time, either.”
Retrospectively, it’s strange to hear Jagger talk about Between the Buttons in such a way, as it is often hailed as one of the best Rolling Stones records. Not their definitive record by a long way, but it has long been placed amongst some of the greatest rock records of the period, and by some people, of all time. Like we mentioned at the inception, though, musicians are a funny bunch.