I can, however, contribute to the theme. As I mentioned in Rob's conversation transcription, a subset of favorites could be more manageable and perhaps more interesting. As such, here we go...
Clarence's 10 Favorite Stones Songs
That Aren't On Their Plethora of Greatest Hits
Boy, the Glimmer Twins do like their best-ofs, don't they?
The Rolling Stones first released a record in 1964. The released their first compilation of hits in 1966. And it just went from there:
1966: Big Hits (High Tides and Green Grass)
1969: Through the Past Darkly: Big Hits Vol. 2
1971: Hot Rocks: 1964-1971
1972: More Hot Rocks: (Big Hits and Fazed Cookies)
1975: Made in the Shade
1984: Rewind (1971-1984)
1989: The Complete Singles Collection: The London Years
1993: Jump Back: The Best of the Rolling Stones 1971-1993
2002: Forty Licks
These albums total 249 Stones songs -- okay, 101 different Stones songs -- that have been released, re-released, and re-re-released on hits packages. "Brown Sugar" appears on a ridiculous seven of these compilations. And these are the major hits releases, there are dozens more import collections, rarities, and stupid crap like Sucking in the Seventies. (Which I own. And like.)
The thing is . . . these collections are all pretty much great. Whether it was pilfering my folks' High Tide and Green Grass vinyl when I was 12, or listening to Rewind on cassette repeatedly a few years later, or buying Forty Licks on CD like a lemming during my complete addiction to that form of music media a dozen years ago . . . or having pretty much all of them in digital format now, I continue to listen to Mick and Keith. I mean, who didn't have Hot Rocks when they were in high school, no matter when you grew up? (Probably Rob.)
If asked yesterday, I probably would have told you that I like the Beatles or the Kinks or maybe even another British Invasion act more than the Stones, but I think my listening habits tell the story. The Stones are just the Stones, as Keith would tell you mock-intellectually. Like a sore schwanz, they are hard to beat.
Then again, classic rock deejays around the world -- like the ones on 106.9 The Fox here in SE VA -- have tried their very damnedest to ruin our affection for these tunes by playing them ad nauseum for decades. Truly, Charlie Watts never had anything on the clowns who drummed "Sympathy," "Wild Horses," "Angie," "Honky Tonk Women," and especially "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" into the ground. (Clever girl that I am, click on those links for something fresher.
So I could do what Jan Wenner, Tiger Beat, VH-1, and their ilk do all the time and tell you the 10 or 50 or 100 "best" Stones songs. (#100: "Harlem Shuffle" I do not dig on that swine.) Instead, I have culled through the handful songs that aren't on the aforementioned compilations and found some all-timers. Have a listen.
1. "Monkey Man," Let It Bleed, 1969
As cool a first 30 seconds of any rock song, and it doesn't get worse from there. I'm glad you are a monkey woman, too.
2. "Sweet Virginia," Exile on Main Street, 1972
Wouldn't the Commonwealth of Virginia have loved to use this as a tourism slogan song? Whoops, not unlike the issues highlighted in this amusing take on "Born to Run" as the NJ state anthem, you don't hear many state songs that mention hiding drugs on one's person or that you've "got to scrape the shit right off your shoes." Still, it's a fantastic tune for late in some bleary evenings.
3. "Little T and A," Tattoo You, 1981
Let's keep the bawdy coming. My favorite Stones tunes include a disproportionate number of Keith tunes, and this is a dandy. An ode to groupies. Listen for the mention of what T & A stand for, in case you have virgin ears. (Keith doesn't.)
4. "Can't You Hear Me Knocking," Sticky Fingers, 1971
Such a good song. Great intro. Great outro. This might be my favorite Stones song.
Hours are like diamonds, don't let 'em waste. Well spoken, Mick. Time waits for no one, Gheorghies, and it won't wait for me. Time waits for no one, and it won't wait for thee.
6. "Loving Cup," Exile on Main Street, 1972
Our demised friend Flynn was an enormous fan of the Stones, and this was his favorite song. I never really got it until my 100th listen, long after he was gone. It's a gem.
7. "Salt of the Earth," Beggars Banquet, 1968
Let's drink to the hard working people. Let's drink to the lowly of birth. Keith. Raising a glass. Why wouldn't you reciprocate?
8. "One Hit (To The Body)," Dirty Work, 1986
The Stones' latter-day stuff (meaning after I turned 16) gets glossed over, and with mostly good reason. This one seems to stick with me, though. I like the guitar. Not the video.
9. "She's So Cold," Emotional Rescue, 1980
A good, simple rock song, almost like a throwback to their 60's stuff. And an even worse video -- made just before MTV was hatched. Prancing Mick. Sulking Keith.
10. "Dead Flowers," Sticky Fingers, 1971
I never like to admit when Dave is right, but he was when he picked this song. It's a keeper by any standards. How it was omitted from all those compilations is puzzling.
There you go. There are plenty of good songs that appeared on just one of the 10 greatest hits collections, like "Rocks Off," "Bitch," Dance Little Sister," "Waiting On a Friend," and others. But these are the ones curiously left off entirely, and it has made all the difference. Or something like that.
I saw the Stones last summer for their 50th anniversary tour. It was my first time seeing them; funny, I remember not seeing them in 1989 and thinking I may have missed my last shot. I finally caught the Rolling Stones, and they were tremendous. And they played "Satisfaction." And it was fucking killer.