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William C. Altreuter
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Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Something possessed me Friday, and I found myself listening to a bunch of old Stones sides. It occurred to me that the string of releases starting with "Beggar's Banquet" and running through "Let It Bleed", "Sticky Fingers" and culminating in "Exile On Main Street" may be one of the greatest sustained bursts of genius in popular music. What can match it? Sinatra's work on Capitol with Nelson Riddle, perhaps ("Songs for Swingin' Lovers", "In the Wee Small Hours", "Frank Sinatra Sings For Only The Lonely", "A Swingin' Affair"). I think the work Miles Davis was doing in 1956 for Prestige-- "Workin'", "Cookin'", "Steamin'" and "Relaxin'"-- then with Columbia, on "Round About Midnight" through "Kind of Blue"-- fits into this category. I am sort of stuck trying to think of other examples. The Stones' run is all the more remarkable when you consider that it is bracketed by a couple of their most mediocre sides-- "Satanic Majesties" and "Goat's Head Soup".

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