Ancient Stones

That's the weird thing about Ramones T-shirts - every time I see somebody wearing one, I feel this powerful impulse to stride up to the person concerned and ask them which are their five favourite songs by the band. I never do of course because it would be very rude and I'd be racked with self-loathing for the next five years.

A similar urge overwhelms me whenever the subject of the Rolling Stones rears its goaty head.

'What's your favourite Stones album?'

'Oh, Exile On Main Street, brother. It's gotta be, hasn't it? The production, dude - it's wild.'

'Really? Which songs on it do you like?'

'Tumbling Dice is epic, man. And, er... well... er, you know... well, er anyway, it's just the overall feel, brother.'

The truth is even the days when people actually listened to records, nobody ever played Exile On Main Street in its entirety because it's a mightily long-winded (double) album with lots of instantly forgettable songs on it. Nevertheless, it maintains an almost mythical status as their finest body of work. Sometimes someone will mention the track Happy in a half-hearted attempt to support their argument but that's only because they vaguely remember it's the one with Keith Richards singing lead vocals on it, which fact I would love to believe led directly to creation of the Spanish refrain 'zapatero a tus zapatos' (roughly translated as 'shoemaker, stick to making shoes.').

The truth is, Rolling Stones albums in their entirety were never very good. Generally, they would consist of two or three sublime songs and six or seven fillers that nobody ever wanted to listen to ever again.

I was reminded of all of this ancient musical history the other day when I read in the paper that Mick, Keith & Co. are about to re-release Goat's Head Soup on the occasion of its 1,450th anniversary or something. Why? Surely a better option would be just to put Angie out again since it was the only song on that record that anyone really liked and then slap a bonus track on the B-side. You know the kind of thing - a rare acoustic demo of 'Dancing With Mr. D' recorded up Keith's favourite coconut tree with Mick slurring his words and playing out-of-time maracas in the background.

By the way, Sheena Is A Punk Rocker and Hey Ho, Let's Go are the only two Ramones songs I can think of off the top of my head because I never really liked them and I haven't got the T-shirt.