Rockbrat Wonders: Mick Taylor or Ronnie Wood?

“Ere Mick, how do I play the solo in “Gimme Shelter”? …………. I sure could go a steak and kidney pie Ronnie”……..

I saw a recent documentary on the Stones, ‘Cross Fire Hurricane” and its good. Was put together by Mick and Keith. Anyway, it reminded me of an aspect of the band that still comes up for debate every now and then – and that is the significant contribution that Mick Taylor made to the band. When you consider that he was in the band for only 5 years, and the 5 albums he released with the band are all considered classics – it kinda speaks for itself. Look at those albums he played on. Get Yer Ya-Yas Out , Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street, Goats Head Soup,  It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll. And to walk away from that amazing, productive period in December 74 at the age of only 25 must have taken some courage. When you stack his contribution up against Ronnie Wood’s period with the band, you kind of start to see how significant those Taylor years were to the Stones. And that is not a statement I make lightly, for I am an unabashed fan of Ronnie Wood, and have been for many many years (hells bells, I even own one of his drawings!) True – Ronnie Wood has also been involved in some classic albums with the Stones, from ‘Black and Blue’ to the current day. But how many of those can you consider out and out classics? Sure, you can find great songs on certain albums over his 35 + year tenure with the band, but that’s my point right there. Taylor made 5 CLASSIC ALBUMS with the Stones, top to bottom, in the 5 years he was with them. Is it fair to stack up Let It Bleed (Taylor plays on “Country Honk” and “Live With Me”), Get Yer Ya-Yas Out! , Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street, Goats Head Soup and It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll AGAINST Black and Blue, Some Girls, Emotional Rescue, Undercover and Dirty Work? Is that fair on Woody? I dunno, maybe I’m comparing apples and oranges, but it’s still an interesting thought. Woody bought a lot to the band. Personality wise, he always seemed to be a better fit. Being a member of the boozing Faces, his affable disposition fit right in. But he DID, unfortunately, bring all those reggae influences to the band. Urgh. Even Keef got into the act too. Songs like , “Luxury” “Cherry Oh Baby”, “Hey Negrita”, “Crackin’ Up” (live), “Everything’s Turning to Gold” “Send It to Me”, “Indian Girl”, “Think I’m Going Mad”, “Feel on Baby”, “Too Rude”  and “You Don’t Have to Mean It” all have a Jamaican or Caribbean flavor (all not exactly reggae, but more kind of ska, rock steady, roots reggae) – and are some of my least favorite Stones material. You can’t go from being an out and out r ‘n’ b (as in the old sense of the word kids) / blues based band to one that is using white reggae upstrokes that would sit more at home on a UB40 album. Please. Everybody knows – Cowboy Col don’t like reggae (or bloody bongos!) . Yet I digress. You be the judge. I will always take Woody, bless him, over Taylor anyday. He may never have had the proficiency or musical chops as Taylor, but he has personality plus and you just can’t help like the guy!

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