cover image Rocks Off: 50 Tracks that Tell the Story of the Rolling Stones

Rocks Off: 50 Tracks that Tell the Story of the Rolling Stones

Bill Janovitz. St. Martin’s, $24.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-250-02631-6

In this glimmering set of unabashed fan’s notes, guitarist and music writer Janovitz (Exile on Main Street) enthusiastically and movingly traces the evolution of the world’s greatest rock ’n’ roll band, song by song. Although the Stones started out as a cover band, they soon ascended to pantheon of rock music history as a result of their original compositions. Janovitz points out that “the music of the Stones has mirrored and provided a soundtrack for their own generation, while charting a road map and a catalog of timeless rock ’n’ roll archetypes for those that followed.” Janovitz traces the Stones’ journey by digging deep into the music and lyrics of the songs, illustrating the ways that they provide keys to the growth, struggles, and development of the band. The Stones’ first single, “Tell Me,” for example, is lyrically “a string of clichés, but with enough urgency and snarl to give indication of the Stones’ tougher stance than that of the Beatles.” With the success of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” the band began to appreciate the influence they had on listeners and the ways that their songs reflected the time. Reading Janovitz is like sitting with a friend in a basement surrounded by albums, and spending the entire day listening to, arguing about, and worshipping the many licks that have become part of our musical vocabulary. (July)