Book Review: The Rolling Stones: All the Songs—The Story Behind Every Track
The authors of the mind-bogglingly comprehensive All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release (2013) and Bob Dylan: All the Songs (2015) are back. This time around, Philippe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon offer an equally exhaustive look at the Rolling Stones’ work. Three of these volumes in four years? You have to wonder when or even whether Margotin and Guesdon ever sleep.
The impressively researched 704-page Stones book, which features more than 500 illustrations, is organized just like its predecessors. As its title promises, it includes a detailed, chronologically arranged examination of virtually every single and album track recorded by the group, starting with Chuck Berry’s “Come On,” which appeared in the UK in June 1963, and ending with “One More Shot,” which the Stones recorded in August 2012.
For every one of 340 tracks, the volume lists composer, time, personnel, recording location, producer, and other technical credits; it also discusses how the song came to be, its significance, and its production process. The essays include a fair amount of speculation (a certain lyric might mean or be influenced by such-and-such) but also a ton of facts about instruments played, recording techniques employed, references cited, and more. Also here are essays about the birth of the band, each album, and such Stones-related people as “blond muse” Anita Pallenberg, “sixth Stone” Ian Stewart, and manager Allen Klein. Sprinkled throughout are hundreds of small boxes, all labeled “For Stones Addicts,” that report often-fascinating trivia.
While few people will probably be inclined to read this book cover to cover, it’s a browser’s paradise that Stones fans are bound to love. On the off chance that you don’t, you can always use the six-pound volume for a doorstop or maybe even weight training.
Jeff Burger’s books include Lennon on Lennon: Conversations with John Lennon, Springsteen on Springsteen: Interviews, Speeches, and Encounters, and Leonard Cohen on Leonard Cohen: Interviews and Encounters. His website, byjeffburger.com, contains more than four decades' worth of music reviews and commentary.