Rolling Stones “Rip This Joint” (1972)

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Art, by definition, is subjective. And music is not a competition. All those dumb internet listicles and inevitable subsequent online arguments about who’s the best band, or the best anything, are ridiculous, pointless and inane. But we all have our opinions, as do I, which are also subject to change (plus, let’s face it, some people do just have bad taste). To wit, the other day when I heard the Rolling Stones positively breakneck barnburner ‘Rip This Joint’ come on my satellite radio, I thought to myself, “That has absolutely got to be the most righteous, balls-out rocker ever recorded” (or some similarly critical reflection). Following the snarling first track ‘Rocks Off’ on the Stones messy masterpiece, “Exile on Main St.,” ‘Rip This Joint’ instantly revved the frenetic tempo further to chaotic exhilaration not to be realized by hardcore punk until nearly a decade later. A YouTube comment winner simply said about it, “Makes you want to do a line and rob a train.” Glory be, that’s profound. Keith scalds a fevered blues riff, and Mick howls the opening lyrics, “Mama says yes, Papa says no / Make up your mind ‘cause I got to go,” but the tune is undeniably stolen by the late great saxophonist Bobby Keys, arguably the uncredited sixth Stone, whose two caterwauling solos truly spawn musical mayhem and generate the tune’s cacophonous and unrivaled blissful havoc (the solos are from :55 to 1:16, then again, somehow even more riotously, from 1:50 through the fade-out – as if you could miss them). At least I say it’s unrivaled, that is, and if only for today: rock and roll may deliver me salvation anew, and another inviolable opinion to circulate as soon as tomorrow. As the ever-sage Mick & Keith resoundingly conveyed here, “Rip this joint, gonna save your soul / Round and round and round we go.” Preach.


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