uReview: The Rolling Stones “Their Satanic Majesties Request”

12345678910 (50 votes, average: 8.08 out of 10)

A Stones gem or derivative nonsense? What’s your call on this controversial LP?

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“In Another Land”

:D CD Reissue | 2002 | Abkco | buy from amazon ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1967 | Decca | search ebay ]

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  • dk

    Stink bomb. Funny that this would be the uReview after ‘Music From Big Pink’, because this is exactly the kind of album that got blown out of fashion by The Band. It’s full of ridiculous psychedelic noodling, and is perhaps the worst Stones offering until the mid-80’s (I’m looking at you ‘Dirty Work’).

    Even the album art is weak – a lame hologram that cost the band an arm and a leg, and wasn’t even processed properly. On the positive side, the 3-D version of the album is worth a little coin, but not because of the music on it…

  • Anonymous

    Underrated gem.

  • Jon

    On this one subject, I agree with Bill Wyman; 2000 Light Years From Home is worth the price of the LP. The rest of it is rubbish though.

  • Keith Richards

    “I liked a few songs, like ‘2000 Light Years,’ ‘Citadel,’ and ‘She’s a Rainbow.’ but basically I thought the album was a load of crap. I mean, even with Satanic Majesties, I was never hot on psychedelic music.”

    [taken from ‘Keith Richards: The Biography’ by Victor Bockris]

  • Sir George

    Its no wonder Stone’s fans hate this, this is not the Rolling Stone’s type of music. But, when your a major fan of Psychedelia, its a mile stone. After listening to it many times, its very good. Its also a classic of Mellotron usage. Its among the best in Psychedelic music lists. It also helps to have taken acid before you judge a Psychedelic album, because it was made for the hep crowd at the time. You can’t criticize what you don’t understand…

  • It’s the album that serves as something of a microcosm of the psychedelic era: two great songs in 2000 Light Years From Home and She’s a Rainbow; one that could’ve been okay ruined by poor production: Citadel; and the rest not worth turning up for.

    Are there two great songs on Big Pink? The Band always sounded a bit too cornpone for me.

  • Lawn Wrangler

    What about ‘2000 Man’? That song may not be key Keith Richards but it sure got joyous bounce. That’s on this LP, ain’t it?

    I love ‘She’s a Rainbow’ but now I need a long break because of an ‘arty’ television commercial. Oh and everybody ‘criticizes what they don’t understand’. That’s life, mate.

  • mark

    The artistic process is an evolutionary one that seems to develop in fits and starts. While it is well known that this album is an ironic spoof on the Beatles and their over-produced, studio-centered production of Sgt. Peppers, to merely pass it off as such is to discredit any poetic or artistic process. There are no blank-slates – minds that are not contaminated with what has come before. All art is a dialog of sorts: the artists (in this case, Jagger and Co.) are engaged in the world that is constantly flowing around them, not contained in some lifeless shell in which their originality can bare fruit. There is no, and there can be no art that is original. Their Satanic Majesties Request is a case in point. It is a self-contamination perhaps; however, at the same time, they remained true to themselves. It is an album of their music, albeit, generated remarkably quickly (Sgt. Peppers was released in July of 1967 and TSMR in November of the same year!) and serving as both a criticism of the “artificial” music of their time (by way of the Beatles). What is odd is that much of the album is remarkably good… perhaps because they are, after all, remarkably good musicians.

    Every true artist draws themselves into the larger cultural dialog – their production / art then becomes part of that dialog: propelling it or subtly changing its trajectory. In so doing, the world is drawn into the artist. We do not fault the Byrds for their love of Coltrane or for their evocative foray into country music (Sweetheart of the Rodeo AND before). The Stones were always absorbing the American Blues tradition – doing the same thing that they accomplished with TSMR: reducing a musical form to its essential elements, critiquing it, and transforming rock music in the process. Blues, we must remember, borrowed, stole, repeated, and thereby contaminated itself. Yes, the album has its weak points – but whatever they are, it still stands as an album today – and one worth listening to repeatedly.

  • I remember all the fuss when this came out. Negative reviews and stores selling the overstock on the cheap. I was put off by all the negativity around it. Yet I was intrigued by everything about it – the cover (the ‘hidden’ pictures of the Beatles). Then there was the music. I heard She’s like a Rainbow and 2000 Light Years on the radio. Not bad. The rest of it must really suck I thought. Eventually I heard more – Citadel, 2000 Man, In Another Land. Damn, this is an album that – had it been put out by any other group would be considerd a masterpiece! The concept and the opening & closing tracks are disposible. You don’t like it? I respect that, but I strongly disagree: I enjoy the hell out of it everytime I listen to it and it doesn’t detract from any of the Stones other ‘Great’ albums. It just shows that they could sike as well if not better than the rest.

  • Jason

    I agree Mefkin, if any other band had released this album everyone from critics to casual rock fans would be swooning over it, calling Satanic Majesties a masterpiece. I believe about 60% of it or so works – She’s A Rainbow, 2000 Light Years, In Another Land, 2000 Man, Citadel and The Latern are all fine pop tracks. Citadel is one of my favorites off the album, a good song that rocks out hard with a strange psych edge. I’m not so sure about Gomper, On With The Show or the 8 minute plus version of Sing This All Together (See What Happens) but I guess it’s really all down to personal taste. The Stones went thru a brief spell in which they were competing with the Who, Beatles and Kinks, releasing a string of pop albums – Flowers, Between The Buttons and the above album. I feel they felt the pressure to compete with their peers but came into their own with Beggars Banquet – an album and style which was their own and very original. Between the Buttons and Flowers are gems and even Satanic has it’s strange charms and fine songs – well worth a spin in my eyes.

  • JEFF

    great strange crazy oddball record from a band that would make several classics right after this psyche detour – I love this album and appreciate it for what it is – an album that covers almost every avenue explored during the 66-67 LSD years – I recommend it!

  • Better than virtually every other band’s best album. If this was a band no one had ever heard of before, it’d be the ulitmate crate-digging find of all time. That being said, it sucks. Four stars (out of five)

  • An amazing album. The arrangements and Mellotron are off the hook on this record. The actual songwriting might be a little patchy in places, but if a couple of the weaker tracks had been swapped out for We Love You and Dandelion this thing woulda been a powerhouse.

    The band went back to basics after Satanic Majesties, but a large part of me wishes they hadn’t. Satanic Majesties gets knocked for being an example of the Stones’ crass opportunism, but you can’t tell me that “Salt of the Earth” off Beggars’ Banquet isn’t 100 times more hollow than any of the goofy psych stuff to be found on this LP. Even though it’s a total anomaly in the history of the band, it’s a totally crucial record, especially for us Brian Jones fanatics.

  • Al-Di-La

    I can’t believe there is any debate on this. Stinkbomb? Rubbish? It’s a classic.

  • Skronk

    A case can be made that this album is one of the most important in rock history. The 60’s turned to the proto-70’s because of this over the top pseudo-failure. I love it.

  • Jean Erica

    This is a truly classic work of art. Okay so the cover art is derivative but despite the psychedelic Beatles-influenced touches here and there, the songwriting and performances are so vastly different than Sgt. Peppers and its genre and/or Piper At the Gates of Dawn and its ilk. 2000 Man sounds more like the KInks than the Beatles or Pink Floyd. Citadel & She’s A Rainbow don’t sound like anybody else and are timeless masterpieces. 2000 Light Years From Home transcends its psychedelic blues arrangement/progression magnificently; and, while they may fall short of classic status, The Lantern, Gomper and On With the Show are excellent songs/performances that transcend psychedelia or any other particular ‘movement’. Even on the track(s) that Lennon & McCartney actually appear in the flesh, Sing This All Together and ‘We Love You’ (non-LP single), while the latter does tip its hat to the Fabs, the song stands on its own merits and offers a darker edge and more cynical take to its psychedelia, while the former is pure Stones, and like many of the tracks on the album, clearly recorded lyrically and arrangement-wise with tongues firmly placed in cheeks. I even really like Wyman’s ‘In Another Land’ though it admittedly doesn’t really transcend its influences until Jagger’s vocals kick in like a drunken party crasher at an LSD “be-in”, it’s still an unexpectedly fine slice of vintage psychedelic self-indulgence from the plodding Wyman of all people. Brian Jones is arguably at his best here of any of his Stones’ multi-instrumental work and you’ve got Nicky Hopkins and John Paul Jones on board to boot offering all sorts of ear candy. What more could you possibly ask for? To me this sounds like the warm-up act for Beggars Banquet, which still stands IMHO as the greatest of all Stones records (with Let It Bleed a close second) rather than some misstep or ‘of its time’ relic. Go listen again all ye naysayers and confess thy sins!

  • jason

    Wow, Jean Erica, good review. We should turn over our jobs to you.

  • heyday2day

    The main problem with this album is that it is by the Stones. If it had been released by a lesser known band or even an obscure one then it might enjoy revered status that many obscure albums do today. If I can forget that it’s the Stones then I can enjoy it for what it is, but if not….. The backlash that this album spurs in alot of Stones fans, I think, is more due to that fact that for the first time it was clear that the Stones were chasing and following rather than leading. That’s something that alpha dogs aren’t supposed to do. As a psychedelic period piece it’s not bad, as a part of the Stones 64-74 discography, it’s a clunker. If that makes any sense

  • ron

    The Stones worst failure. A great example of the Stones trying to catch up to the Beatle’s Sgt. Pepper album. The Beatles were always 2,000 light years ahead: pun intended The reviews in 1967 showed the previous statement to be correct. The total album had only 1 good song worthy of being released. The album was a futile and pathetic. I’m a Stone’s fan but it was a humbling attempt to go psychedelic. Mick and company should have stayed with rock music (Street Fighting Man, Exile on Man Street) etc. I’m just thankful the Stones didn’t try to get it right. A dismal failure. Case closed.

  • vinylhead

    Okay ,Okay its the Stones yes but to even use or say beatles with them is nuts!!! beatles hit right on the mark for taking you on a trip and SP,MMT,WA,ABBY, come on,,, no one did it better as for this album they tried!!!! drop a hit then get back to me ,,,,happy trails

  • Len Liechti

    This uneven album is not the Stones’ finest moment, it must be said, but at least back in those days they were still trying to progress and experiment, unlike the last forty years in which their style has hardly changed. (The worst thing that ever happened to the Stones was Ronnie Wood, who whilst a good reliable sideman offers absolutely zip creativity. Did they really need a second Keef?) The Stones were never imaginative enough to produce really good psych, especially after they started to sideline Brian Jones who was the only really creative musician in the outfit. “We Love You” stands as their psych high spot, mainly because of Jonesey’s majestic Mellotron. Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed were fine albums but became the template for the next forty years, as they pretty rapidly ran out of ideas. I’d take this over Exile On Main St. anytime.

  • Lindon Sjolander

    This is the Stone’s most misunderstood album, mainly because many people were under the impression that they were trying to copy The Beatles Sgt.Pepper album. In many forms of art, however, there has always been a seminal person or group to innovate something, then have their work, not copied, but carried on. When Beethoven added a chorus in his ninth symphony, this was the first time a symphony was not a totally instrumental work. Later other composers like Mahler did the same, but in new ways. When George Harrison introduced the sitar to western rock, others did too. This album is, true, not in the Stone’s usual style, but is highly innovative and interesting. The surrealism in it is very unique on this album, like the album’s last song (On With The Show), which begins with a barker for a gentleman’s club and a kind of cabaret-style feel. This is out of step with the rest of the album. I think it’s like someone had a dream/trip and awoke and now we’re back in the real world. Simply a great album!

  • I like Lindor Sjolander’s it-was-all-a-dream conclusion inferred from On With the Show (and the Bill Wyman song). Maybe there is some blatant homage to the Beatles, but the Rolling Stones took us to a place the Beatles didn’t venture: the future. (Nearly?) all of Sgt Pepper can be said to be nostalgic or looking at contemporary English/American culture. The Rolling Stones (and Jagger’s words) showed us our dystopian future, 2000 folks:

    “Lord, I’m one, Lord, I’m two, Lord, I’m three, Lord, I’m four, Lord, I’m 500 miles from my home” of the popular folk song is transformed, threatening me, sending me 100, 600, 1000, 2000 light years from home.

    I am having an affair with a random computer.

    This is clairvoyance unattainable with an “All You Need is Love” worldview.

    PS We love you, Beatles (don’t take it bad).

  • Len Liechti

    Further to the above, have you heard the cover of “We Love You” by Ryuichi Sakamoto on his album Beauty? Blew me away.

  • Oz

    It’s a good LP, funnily enough, my fave track is ‘Lantern’ the whole LP just sounds….weird.

    But in a good way, like all the best psychedelia does.

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