On their arrival in Los Angeles, the group almost immediately began a session at RCA Studios on May 12 and 13, entering the studio accompanied by Ian Stewart and Jack Nitzsche, with Oldham producing and Dave Hassinger engineering. The two-day session produced six cuts: Solomon Burke’s “Cry To Me,” Sam Cooke’s “Good Times,” Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” and three new Jagger-Richards compositions: “The Spider And The Fly,” “One More Try,” and the blockbuster “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”
The Stones shot several new promotional films directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. “Dancing With Mr. D,” “Silver Train,” and two versions of “Angie” were taped, and the clips were broadcast worldwide from July through November on shows such as Top of the Pops and Old Grey Whistle Test in the UK, Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert in the US, Music Machine on CBC-TV in Canada, and Beat Club and Musikland in Germany. On “Angie,” Mick performed a live vocal over pre-recorded backing tracks, while the other two were mimed to the recorded master tapes. In the first version of “Angie,” Keith and Mick Taylor both used Gibson Hummingbirds, Bill played his Gibson EB-3 bass, and Charlie used his black Gretsch kit. Version two (with Mick wearing a hat) is the same, but with Mick Taylor playing piano instead of guitar. On “Silver Train” and “Dancing With Mr. D,” Keith played the white Gibson SG Custom, and Mick Taylor played a Gibson ES-345. This was the last sighting of Keith’s white SG Custom. The stage was filled with Ampeg SVTs in the backline.
Some cuts, including “Silver Train,” “Hide Your Love,” and “100 Years Ago,” had already taken form during previous studio sessions. Both “Hide Your Love” (on which Mick played piano during the final take) and “Silver Train” originated during the October 1970 Olympic sessions. Jagger also played guitar on “Silver Train,” which, like “All Down The Line,” was originally written for Johnny Winter. “100 Years Ago” came from the 1971 Exile Nellcôte summer sessions.
On “Before They Make Me Run,” Keith played bass, acoustic, and electric guitar and sang the lead vocal, making it, in essence, a Keith solo cut. As for the abundance of Mick’s guitar playing throughout the album, Keith commented, “The reason why we got into the three guitars on this album is because Stu wasn’t playing any keyboards during the Paris sessions—he was either somewhere else or didn’t feel like it or wasn’t into it . . . or probably the piano wasn’t any good!” Following the Pathé Marconi sessions, Mick and Keith mixed the Some Girls album tracks at Atlantic Studios in New York from March 15 to March 31.
May brought several more songs into being, including “No Expectations,” “Dear Doctor,” “Parachute Woman,” “Factory Girl,” “Salt Of The Earth” (known as “Silver Blanket” in its early incarnation), “Blood Red Wine,” “Memo From Turner #1,” and “I’m A Country Boy,” as well as some early takes of “Sister Morphine,” “Love In Vain,” and “You Got The Silver.” During the sessions, Keith mainly used his moon-painted Gibson Les Paul Custom for both leads and rhythm and also played his Gibson ES-330, his blue Fender Telecaster, and his non-reverse Firebird VII. Bill used both his sunburst Vox Wyman Bass and his customized Dallas Tuxedo bass, and also added organ to several tracks. Charlie continued with his Ludwig kit, occasionally changing the set’s rack tom to a Ludwig white marine pearl rack tom. He added congas, tablas, bongos, and other percussion along with Mick and Rocky Dijon, who also played congas. For amplification, Keith used a mixture of the Vox Supreme, Vox 760, Vox AC-30, and his Triumph amplifier, and Bill used a Vox Foundation Bass amp.
Before they began work on the album, the group had some time off for personal projects. Bill continued with his own productions, in particular his protégé group the End, whose excellent Introspection album was released on Decca later in the year. Brian spent most of his time at Olympic studios with Jimi Hendrix, adding percussion to “All Along The Watchtower” during one of the sessions, while expectant father Charlie stayed home with his wife Shirley, who was soon to give birth to their daughter Serafina on March 18. Mick and Keith stuck to Stones’ business, writing several songs for the new album while staying either at Redlands or at Mick’s place in Chelsea.
Keith explained that the inspiration for the song came from the presence of an open-tuned guitar and a visit from his gardener. “Mick and I were down at Redlands at about six in the morning,” he related. “We’d been up all night, the sky was just beginning to go grey, and it was pissing down rain. ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ comes from this guy Jack Dyer, who was my gardener. Jack was an old yokel; I once said, ‘Have you ever been to town?’. . . town meaning London, right? And he says, ‘Oh yeah, I was up there VE day, when the war finished. That cathedral is something.’ He meant Chichester, just seven miles away! So Mick and I were sitting there, and Mick hears these great footsteps, these big rubber boots—slosh, slosh, slosh—going by the window. He said, ‘What’s that?’ And I said, ‘Oh that’s Jack, Jumpin’ Jack. . . ’ and Mick just says ‘Flash!’ He’d just woken up, and, suddenly, we had this wonderful alliterative phrase. And the only guitar in the house was tuned that way. It’s really ‘Satisfaction’ in reverse, almost an interchangeable riff, except it’s played on chords instead of a Gibson fuzzbox.”
The Stones cut close to thirty numbers in the three-week period. Mick Taylor remembered: “The backing tracks were all done in Jamaica. We started off with ‘Winter,’ which was just Mick strumming on a guitar in the studio, and everything fell in together from there. ‘Angie’ and ‘Dancing With Mr. D’ were recorded in the middle of the sessions, and ‘Starfucker’ was about the last. Some of the songs used were pretty old. ‘100 Years Ago’ was one that Mick had written two years ago and which we hadn’t really got around to using before.”
As the month of March arrived, the group added yet another residency to their extensive list with their debut at Ken Coyler’s Club, Studio 51, on March 3, a gig that lasted about six months. On March 11, 1963, the first professional Stones recording took place at IBC Studios, Portland Place, London. The session was arranged by Ian’s friend Glyn Johns, who also was a professional studio engineer and producer at IBC Studios. He explained: “I started as a tea maker, an assistant tape operator, in 1959 at IBC studios. In those days, it was considered the best studio in Europe. We worked on everything: film music, American television music, jingles, a lot of big band and band singers. There wasn’t a lot of rock ’n’ roll in those days. It really started at the end of 1960. The old senior engineers didn’t understand rock ’n’ roll at all. That’s what made way for us youngsters. We just took over.” Johns,became a very important and influential studio engineer and producer over the next few decades, was among the first to take notice of the Stones’ inherent primitive quality and nonconformist attitude, and he tried to harness those within the walls of a studio. Johns remembered: “I took them in the studio for the first time. It was very exciting. It was clear that Brian Jones was the leader. I took an instant dislike to him. It was great. I’d been into Jimmy Reed for a long time, although he wasn’t known in England. I was really into American folk and R&B, so, when the Stones happened, I was amazed that an English band could get anywhere close to that, that they even knew about it.” Five tracks were recorded, produced, and engineered by Johns; mostly songs which were part of the Stones’ repertoire on stage: Bo Diddley’s “Road Runner” and “Diddley Daddy,” Muddy Waters’s “I Want To Be Loved,” and Jimmy Reed’s “Bright Lights Big City’’ and “Baby What’s Wrong.” The group entered the studio with their most recent arsenal of equipment, and they were quite satisfied with the outcome of the session, Brian in particular. Johns’s boss, George Clewson, tried to shop the tape to several record companies, all of which turned him down with the complaint that the material was not of a commercial nature. Sadly, the tracks were never released, but they have surfaced several times unofficially, as far back as late 1969.
By Greg Prevost, from his book Rolling Stones Gear
The Mellotron is a difficult instrument to master, as engineer George Chkiantz, who was present at the recording of “We Love You,” would attest: “You try playing a Mellotron; there’s a horrible time lag, depending on how many notes you push down, and most people, even great musicians, screwed it up. A terrible instrument, dreadful, very hard to play, impossible to maintain tempo, unless you were Brian Jones. Nobody else could have gotten anything like that.” He further elaborated, “Brian managed to get an extremely tight rhythmic punch for that record [‘We Love You’].”