Some Girls saw the Stones back with a bang, on an explosive mission to show the world’s ‘new punks’ who was boss. Playing faster and dirtier than men of their age should, the Stones pulled out all the stops, invigorated by the provocations of these new upstarts, (most of whom had grown up on the Stones anyway).
Unleashed on the public in June 1978, the album’s cheeky artwork immediately landed the boys in trouble. Designed by Peter Corriston, who had had a run of eye-catching album covers, (Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti, Rod Stewart’s Sing It Again Rod), its elaborate die-cut design featured The Rolling Stones in garish drag alongside select female celebrities and lingerie ads.
The cover immediately ran into trouble when Lucille Ball, Raquel Welch, Farrah Fawcett, Liza Minnelli (representing her mother Judy Garland), and the estate of Marilyn Monroe threatened legal action. The album was quickly reissued with a revised cover that removed all the celebrities, whether they had complained or not, and were replaced with black and punk style garish colours with the phrase ‘Pardon our appearance – cover under re-construction’. The CD version retuned to the ‘cut-out’ design, but used only head shots of the Stones in place of the girls’ heads.
Mick Jagger is generally regarded as the principal creative force behind Some Girls, but it had the additional place in history of being the first album recorded with Ron Wood as a full member. His hit and miss, rocking and riffing guitar style, interwoven with that of Keith Richards, gave the Stones a new sound and a new spiky edge. Wood’s slide guitar playing would become one of the band’s hallmarks, and his unconventional uses of the instrument are prominent on Some Girls. In addition, Jagger, who had learned to play guitar over the previous decade, contributed a third guitar part to many songs, giving songs like ‘Respectable’ a three-guitar line-up.
For the first time since 1968’s Beggars Banquet, the core band, now Jagger, Richards, Wood, Watts, and Wyman, would be the only musicians on a Rolling Stones album, with few extra contributors. Ian McLagan, Wood’s former bandmate from The Faces, played keyboards; harmonica player Sugar Blue (James Whiting) made memorable contributions to several songs, and other collaborators included saxophonist Mel Collins and Simon Kirke from Free, who played percussion.
The critics and fans loved it, enjoying the Stones playing a mix of disco, country, soul and downright dirty rock ‘n’ roll. The album’s disco starter, ‘Miss You’ (which gave the band their eighth number 1 hit in the United States), the fast and furious seedy sexual imagery of ‘When The Whip Comes Down’, the cover of The Temptations’ ‘Just My Imagination’, and what have now become Stones classics: ‘Respectable’ and ‘Beast Of Burden’ and the tongue firmly in the cheek country parody ‘Far Away Eyes’, all made it one of the definitive Stones albums.
Sessions took place from October to December 1977, and from January to March 1978, at Pathé Marconi Studios, in Paris, France. When released in June of the same year, Some Girls peaked at number 1 on the US Billboard 200, and became one of the band’s biggest-selling albums in the United States, certified, as of 2000 by the RIAA as having sold over six million copies in the USA alone.
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