Just as The Beatles' American label tampered with their early releases as a means of milking US fans, so London squeezed the maximum mileage out of the Stones's early catalogue. They did this by making use of their extensive singles and EP material, creating five albums prior to 'Aftermath' whereas there where only three in the UK. Perhaps that's why you can get the early US releases on CD but not the UK ones. This, the debut, only featured one change: 'Not Fade Away' replaced 'Mona' (I think), presumably because having a big hit made the album more attractive. To me, it's a minor irritant, as I always liked hearing 'Route 66' kick things off.
Not only were the Stones far from the finished article when they made this, they were also struggling for material to fill it. The sole Jagger/Richard composition, 'Tell Me', apparently came about only because Andrew Oldham insisted they write something and shut them in the kitchen until they came up with something. The track not surprisingly sounds a little awkward and self conscious, more pop than r&b, but isn't a bad effort. They also made up an instrumental based on 'Can I Get A Witness', but the album still only weighs in at around half an hour, though that was average for the era.
So, why do I love this album? Firstly, the choice of covers is superb throughout. Keith Richards was presumably responsible for the frequent Chuck Berry covers and 'Carol' is one of the band's best. The other choices show off their attributes well, whether fast numbers such as 'Can I Get A Witness?' or the slow, gritty 'I'm A King Bee'. This album is a classic blueprint for future British r&b bands. Both 'Route 66' and 'Walking The Dog', for instance, featured in Dr Feelgood's early repertoire.