EARLIER THIS YEAR, I posted my first Amazon review, this one of the Rolling Stones’ album THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST. It had the over-long and grammatically cumbersome title of “Clearly their answer to PET SOUNDS—or at least Good Vibrations—SGT. PEPPER is actually as disparate an artifact as REVOLVER.”
What the title was intended to mean is this: SGT. PEPPER was clearly the Beatles’ answer to the Beach Boys’ PET SOUNDS and/or Good Vibrations and as an album was as eclectic and wide-ranging as REVOLVER had been.
My review was written in response to several reviews of the Stones’ album on Amazon but mainly at the fact that Amazon chose to select one and highlight it in their Editorial Reviews section, giving it considerably more prominence than any other review submitted by an Amazon customer.
“Why don’t we sing this song all together, open our heads let the pictures come. And if we close all our eyes together, then we will see where we all come from.”
Sing this altogether
And it perpetuates misunderstandings about the album, decades after most of them have been cleared up elsewhere. What follows is that review—which is still (forever?) on Amazon—fleshed out a wee bit for your reading enjoyment:
“Why do SO many reviewers, whether professional or amateur, feel the need to say reiterate—and here I am using reiterate in its full meaning: ”to state or do over again or repeatedly sometimes with wearying effect that THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST is the Stones ‘answer’ to SGT. PEPPER?
And, while no Stone has ever said that REQUEST was a direct response to SGT. PEPPER, no less an authority than Paul McCartney has ALWAYS claimed that SGT. PEPPER was the Beatles’ response to PET SOUNDS! Now, how many reviewers would be dumb enough to dismiss SGT. PEPPER as an “obvious response to PET SOUNDS” in the first sentence of their review?
It needs to be understood that the second half of the ’60s was a heady, competitive time when artists bounced floated begged borrowed and stole ideas off one another! And seemingly any and every type of music ever created was grist for the mill: country, folk, jazz, Indian, vaudeville, baroque, classical, even musique concrète.
Rather than reduce the relationship of REQUEST to PEPPER to a cliché, why not just assume and say that virtually EVERY record by virtually every artist was an answer/response to a previous record! Then one can stick to reviewing the actual music on the record and forget the often unnecessary comparisons.
The second half of the ’60s was a heady, competitive time when artists bounced floated begged borrowed and stole ideas off one another!
By the way, while most critics and reviewers tend to see THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST as a bit of a bummer vibes-wise, I find it an oh-so joyful a record (‘Why don’t we sing this song all together, open our heads let the pictures come’) that it converted me from a Stones-hater to a Stones-lover upon first hearing in December 1967. My opinion of it has only gone UP in the intervening years!
Finally, the title of this piece refers to the fact that, yes, a loose argument can be made that REQUEST was a response to PEPPER which is was a response to PET SOUNDS which even Brian Wilson stated was his attempt to top to RUBBER SOUL which is was a response to MR. TAMBOURINE MAN und so weiter.”
And so we have our Stones-Beatles-BeachBoys-Byrds connection. This was originally published on my other site Neal Umphred Dot Com (August 30, 2013). It can be read with another piece I have posted on this blog: “From Buttons To Dandelions,” which began life as an article about We Love you / Dandelion, the Stones’ single that preceded THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST earlier in 1967.