Mick sounds as if he had more fun recording this number than since I don’t know when, kicking off the marvelous sax, bass, and guitar break with a sizzling “All reeeet!,” ending it all with his out-of-breath shout “now woooh!” Hero producer Jimmy Miller has it just right for Bill Wyman, bringing the bass up for the choruses to fill in all the gaps. And the lyrics fit Ethan Russel’s sneaky color photo on the single’s cover: “I laid a/ dee-vor-say/ in New York City/ Bomp ba-da…’ A Stones classic.
The flip side is simply the other side of the Rolling Stones: from the cheap pubs of “Spider and the Fly” and the barrooms of Memphis Mick threads his way up the ladder of the upper class, back to the girls of “The 19th Nervous Breakdown” and “Play With Fire” in their mansions in St. Johns Wood, Hampstead, and Chelsea. Slow notes on the guitar and the moaning of a french horn lead into a melancholy story in which no sympathy is wasted on anyone: “You can’t always get what you want… Oh, no, you can’t always get what you want… you can’t always get what you want … But if you try sometimes, you might find… that you get what you need.” The arrangement of this masterful tale of decadence is very reminiscent of Traffic, the chorus seemingly a marriage of “Feelin’ Alright?” and the best riffs from “Smiling Phases.” Al Kooper sits in on piano and organ, and comes up with his best music since Blonde on Blonde. For a man who’s been put down a great deal lately–if for good reason–Kooper shows that when discipline is imposed the fruits of his imagination are as good as they come.
We really couldn’t ask for more–the life and times of the Rolling Stones on one little record, and a cover picture that says it just as well as the music. Buy it, lay it on your stereo and hang it on your wall. It’ll look good there.
Rolling Stone, July 11, 1969