Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
Paul Field – The Rolling Stones, Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out (1970)
Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out, The Rolling Stones in Concert, was my “gateway drug” to the Stones, an addiction that I never want to kick.
I was 14 when my mate Ed said, with the intensity of the Jack Black Character in High Fidelity, “you HAVE to hear the Stones.”
In 1975, radio played pop like ABBA, Sherbet and Captain and Tenille. Ed put Ya-Ya’s into his cassette player, pushed play and changed my life.
Ya-Ya’s has an almost relaxed audience vibe.
By 1969, audiences stopped screaming and for the first time really started listening to bands. The Beatles stopped touring in 1966 and so the Stones wrote the book about being a live rock ‘n’ roll band.
Ya-Ya’s, recorded in the USA, starts with an English voice asking, “Is everybody ready? Everything seems to be ready,” then it’s a jumble of different introductions and there’s the sound system feeding back.
It’s classic Stones chaos and then, a singular voice proclaims, “The greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world… The Rolling Stones.”
Keith Richards’ riff to ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ crashes through the speakers as Charlie Watts drum swings in behind. Jagger wails, “I was born in a crossfire hurricane!”
Jesus, what a start! Keith is complemented by Mick Taylor on guitar, who had only joined the group that same year at the age of 20. The song crashes to an end.
A Chuck Berry song, ‘Carol’, follows with Keith playing every Chuck lick he knew. The Stones introduced me to Chuck Berry and other legends, like Howlin’ Wolf and Bo Diddley.
‘Stray Cat Blues’ shows how the Stones incorporated all they learnt from the masters, to sing their song of sordid sexual tales on the road.
“I bet your mamma never heard you scream like that.”
Robert Johnson’s ‘Love in Vain’ is pure, loose and emotive blues with a mournful solo from young Taylor who had learnt his trade with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.
‘Midnight Rambler’ took some of the headlines of the time about predators that terrorised communities and turned it into an apocalyptic, theatrical blues jam that changes pace on a dime into a pulsating rocker.
‘Sympathy for the Devil’ is a brilliant Jagger lyric. I’d never heard a song like it. The Devil pleads his case, is he really the evil one?
“I shouted out, who killed the Kennedys? When after all, it was you and me!” The Ya-Ya’s version stripped down the studio masterpiece into an arena jam.
‘Live With Me’ features another killer Keith riff, surrounding Jagger’s lyrics about sordid characters. There’s nothing precise about how the band starts or ends. They all swing in behind Keith and it’s how every rock ‘n’ roll band should be.
Berry’s ‘Little Queenie’, is transformed into a Stones groove. They saunter into ‘Honky Tonk Women’, a hypnotic riff while singing about sex.
Ya-Ya’s finishes with ‘Street Fighting Man’. Inspired by the madness of 1968, “I’ll shout and scream and kill the king.”
Jagger pleads, “what can a poor boy do, but to sing for a rock ‘n’ roll band?” It ends with a frenzied mash of guitars, feedback and tumbling drums. Pure Stones.
I met the Stones in 2003, just before they went on stage in Hong Kong. A life highlight, as I was seeing them at the Enmore Theatre.
They were just metres away, sweaty, soulful and triumphant. Angus and Malcolm Young got up and played ‘Rock Me Baby’ with them. No doubt, they had also religiously listened to Ya-Ya’s, as anyone in a band had done.
Bob Dylan said, “they truly are the greatest rock n” roll band in the world…. they were the first and the last.”
Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out is Exhibit A.
Paul Field was the frontman of iconic Aussie band, The Cockroaches and a long-time manager of The Wiggles. Now, he’s releasing music as a solo artist.
Love Songs For Lonely People is his debut, solo album. Released, Friday, 4th June, it features a bunch of Aussie icons like Jimmy Barnes, Kasey Chambers, Ria Pirelli, Chris E Thomas and Elly-May Barnes.
Watch the video for Paul Field’s ‘Gasoline and Matches’ below.