Today is the birthday of the founding member of one the biggest bands in rock history, The Rolling Stones. Brian Jones had a serious jones for the blues. After learning to play saxophone at a young age, he got his first guitar at 17, all the better for taking with him when he dropped out of school to busk through Europe. He eventually moved to London, where he was on the ground floor of a burgeoning blues scene, and he performed under the name Elmo Lewis. It was in 1962 when the pieces of The Rolling Stones came together, with Jones coming up with the name. Indeed, Jones was the original leader of the band, getting gigs, promoting shows and negotiating rates (for which he paid himself an extra five bob a week). While Mick Jagger and Keith Richards eventually supplanted Jones as the driving force of the band, Jones' multi-instrumental talents can be found all over the Stones' catalog. But he became further estranged from the band, began seriously abusing drugs and was out by 1969. Not long after, he was found drowned in a swimming pool. Jones' life took a terrible turn, but his contributions to music cannot be denied. In his honor, please grab your iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle and share the first 10 songs that come up.
Bee Gees – Birdie Told Me (Horizontal): A typically lush pop creation from an early Bee Gees album. A great recording with strings, horns and other percussion touches placed perfectly within the mix.
The Sound – Contact the Fact (From the Lion’s Mouth): A post-punk group I kind of overlooked back in the day, in part because they had only one domestic release, and in part, because I didn’t know what was good for me. Thankfully, their albums have been reissued a few times, and I’ve finally picked up on their sound, which should appeal to fans of Joy Division and Echo and the Bunnymen. This song immediately creates tension and is creatively arranged with a great build up to the chorus.
Gorillaz – every planet we reach is dead (Demon Days): Some wah-wah funk guitar and a wobbly rhythm track contrast with the torch song melody Damon Albairn sings. Perhaps the groove doesn’t sustain the entire length of the track, but that would not be my opinion.
Stories – Brother Louie (Have a Nice Decade): This cover of Hot Chocolate’s British hit was a smash here in the States. Whereas Hot Chocolate’s version was desolate and haunting, this is blues-rock, pop. I now like the original more, but this version is still quite good.
Sukilove – Girl on the Moon (You Kill Me): This song would have been a better one to follow the Gorillaz song. The Belgian band plays at a slow gallop, with an energy that makes the song seem more rapid than it is.
Brian Wilson – Old Master Painter/You Are My Sunshine (Smile): A little bridge between songs on Wilson’s recording of this masterwork, with Brian throwing in a snippet of a standard.
Louis Jordan – Hard Head (The Rock ‘n’ Roll Years): During the ‘50s, Louis Jordan put a bit more oomph in his jump blues, hoping to capture the teen market. The effort was unsuccessful, the recordings are fun. This tune, however, is more of a horn fueled blues song.
The Features – Bumble Bee (The Beginning): From an early release by this Tennessee band. This song has a bit of a ‘60s British psych-orch pop vibe going on. I’d love to hear them explore this type of sound more.
Jay Reatard – Blood Visions (Blood Visions): Reatard got about as much mileage out of primitive, speedy, trebly rock tunes as anyone. This song is so simple and so damned catchy.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Foxy Lady (Are You Experienced?): An album rock classic from an album full of album rock classics. The build up to the solo in the middle still sounds exciting.