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Friday, August 21, 2015

The Rolling Stones "Satisfaction" Instrument-Only Track

Early Rolling Stones image
One of the more iconic songs of the last century is "Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones. Every guitar player learns the famous Keith Richards lick when learning how to play, and every garage band plays the song sometime during their career.

The problem is that it's never played quite right since the arrangement is difficult to hear through a distorted final mix.

Today's isolated track is a real treat in that it features the very clean instrumental-only track of "Satisfaction" where you'll hear some things you probably never noticed before.

The instrumentation includes Keith Richards on electric guitar, Brian Jones on acoustic, Bill Wyman on bass, Charlie Watts on drums, and arranger Jack Nitzsche on piano and tambourine. Here's what to listen for:

1. The acoustic rhythm guitar really pushes the song along. In the final mix it blends into the track but the song would have a much different feel if it wasn't there.

2. Speaking of blending in, the piano also fills out the rhythm section and is pretty imperceptible on the final mix. You can hear it best on the verses.

3. Listen to what happens during the drum breakdown. Charlie Watts continues to play the same beat as he did in the rest of the song while the signature rhythm hook is played by the tambourine (which is also played during the rest of the song). The number of cover bands that get this right is about zero, although maybe the way we think we hear it is the way it should have been played in the first place.

4. Listen to high tight the band is. The timing is excellent, a trait that would get sloppier as the years went on.


Anonymous said...

The original is a semitone lower. And Keith plays hopelessly out of tune.

Greg Strickland said...

I'm an audio engineer not a musician. I instantly heard the instrument only track is is running fast and at higher pitch. What is real? Since I don't know the notes, I go by feel and memory. And no doubt many versions could have been mixed over the years for release with differences. I think this one might be close to the "real" mono mix

Then I heard this one:

Anyone who has a good memory of music, sound and audio knows sometimes what passes to the general public today is not necessarily what was actually the hit back then. Sometimes it seems like a fraud.

I remember hearing the stereo Motown Anthology albums when they came out and being horrified. Those versions got played on FM radio for years and an entire generation thinks that is what those hits actually sound like. I believe Hitsville USA is the definitive collection of many of those songs. (sorry about the rant Bobby)


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