23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
The First Truly Great Stones Album,
This review is from: Aftermath [UK Version] (Audio CD)
I think it's fair to say that to a point 'Aftermath' is greater than the sum of its parts.
That's not to say the songs are necessarily inferior but it's the culminative effect of the broad soundscope created primarily by Brian Jones that is perhaps its greatest strength. Brian dabbles with all types of sounds including rarely played instruments such as the dulcimer, marimbas and sitar to create arguably the most colourfully varied sound to be found within the entire Stones catalogue. Brian (and the Stones) never choose the obvious as a number of these songs could just as easily have been arranged to accommodate more traditional 'rock' arrangements. 'Lady Jane' with its dulcimer and harpsicord instrumentation could just as easily be mistaken for a 16th century Elizabethan ballad.
'Aftermath' does contain more than its fair share of great songs, however, in particular 'Mother's Little Helper', 'Lady Jane', 'Under My Thumb', 'I Am Waiting' and 'Out Of Time' - each one of them highlighting a different aspect of the range of Brian's instrumentation. It's not quite the typical Stones sound that one unacquinted with their albums would be familiar with but it's nonetheless crucial in understanding what the Stones are all about.
It's probably true to say there are a few fillers ('It's Not Easy', 'What To Do' etc.) and the eleven minute 'Going Home' doesn't seem to go anywhere but these songs fit into such a seductive whole that it hardly matters.
Many present day Stones fans long for the return of virtuoso guitarist (and Brian Jones replacement) Mick Taylor to help them reconnect with their primary influence the blues, but upon listening to this album it would be perhaps a good idea also for the Stones to reconnect with some of the more unusual influences Brian Jones brought to the group.
'Aftermath' is certainly the Stones first great album and a reminder that there needn't be limitations in what popular music can aspire to. There certainly wasn't at the time of the album's release back in 1966.