Before their first eponymous EP, the band released two 45s. The first was Chuck Berry's "Come On" with Willie Dixon's "I Want to be Loved" as the B-side. Their version of Berry's classic stuck and became a staple of later shows and compilations. In his book, Richards writes "Come On" is "very different from Chuck berry's version, "it's very Beatle-ized, in fact." The Dixon song sounds like a complete misfire in the beginning, until the band hits the bridge with a mean harmonica solo (Jagger's) and some tasty guitar work. It's almost painful hearing Jagger trying to imitate Black blues singers in this early recording- he sounds fey and self-conscious, but there's still something compelling about the track.
The second single was Lennon and McCartney's "I Wanna Be Your Man," which was released three weeks before the Beatles version. Legend has it Lennon and McCartney had started the song previously (it's primarily a McCartney tune) and finished it while huddling in a corner with the Stones in the room and then handed it over to them. The nasty slide guitar solo by Brian is short but hot, and the Stones version has a lascivious bite to it completely absent on the Beatles version. The B-side is "Stoned"- a group track credited to Nanker Phelge, it's essentially a blues shuffle with minimal, leering lyrics; a rolling piano solo by Ian Stewart, and some mean harmonica in the background accompanied by some fierce guitar. What stands out about the two 45s is the raw energy of the guitars and the solid harmonica playing. For an English band playing American music, it was clear from the beginning the Stones had done their homework. It's also interesting to note the Stones' persona as the antithesis of the Beatles was there from the very beginning. Credit Andrew Oldham for that one.
The EP, The Rolling Stones, features four tracks: Chuck Berry's "Bye Bye Johnny"- a follow up to "Johnny B. Goode" with an almost identical sound but lesser lyrics; Berry Gordy and Janie Alexander's "Money (that's what I want)" which has a nice rawness to it- again covered by the Beatles, who sound like they'll sleep with you for it while the Stones version implies they're going to beat it out of you; Arthur Alexander's "You Better Move On"- a country-tinged song with some unfortunate backing vocals which make it sound horribly dated, but the guitars and the rhythm are as dead-on as the guys could do at this age. The roots of the country-drenched Beggar's Banquet and Exile can be heard in this early cut. The EP closes out with "Poison Ivy." The Leiber/Stoller track has none of the fun of the Coasters' original, and in the hands of the Stones, Ivy sounds less like trouble from the neighborhood and more like the girl who gave you crabs for the first time. There's an interesting comparison between the Stones version and one released by the Dave Clark Five (which sounds like early surf music) in the same year available here.
"Come On" b/w "I Want to Be Loved": 6/7/63 (recorded 5/10/63).
"I Wanna Be Your Man" b/w "Stoned": 11/1/63 (recorded 10/7/63).
The Rolling Stones (EP): 1/17/64- U.K. only (recorded 8/8/63 and 11/15/63).
All of the above tracks are available on the compilation Singles 1963 - 1965, and can be heard on MOG.
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