The Best-Named Rolling Stones Book of All Time

Rocks Off: 50 Tracks That Tell the Story of the Rolling Stones By Bill Janovitz St. Martin's Press, 404 pp., $25.99

OK, we're not biased about this book since it also happens to share a title with this very music blog. But it's an interesting concept, as Janovitz takes 50 Stones tracks and details how each contributed to the band's artistic development, offers info about the writing and recording process, and how they fit into what else was going on both the Stones camp and rock music in general at the time.

Janovitz, whose other gig is as the singer/songwriter/guitarist for Buffalo Tom, is not just a moonlighting music writer. He's written for numerous periodicals and Web sites as well as the edition of the 33 1/3 series that deconstructed the Stones' Exile on Main Street. His writing in Rocks Off is the perfect balance between objective journalist, social commentator, and obsessive fanboy.

The thing that strikes the reader immediately is just how many epochal tracks the Stones have put out over the years. And while plenty of the ones which made the most recent best-of compilation GRRR! have page space, Janovitz also has chapters on deeper cuts like "The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man," "Sway," "Coming Down Again" and "Memory Motel."

Oh, and did you know that the Mick Jagger's working title for "Brown Sugar" was..."Black Pussy??"

It may be a bit trying for readers more interested in a straight biography to jump around the Stones timeline so much, but Rocks Off has a lot of insight spanning five decades of music.


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