When the Whip Comes Down
Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)
Far Away Eyes
Before They Make Me Run
Beast of Burden
Some Girls wasn’t so much a return to form as to content. Exhausted by the sprawl of the early ’70s, the band sounded lean again, a bar act scaled for arena audiences. (The band’s surprise show at the tiny El Mocambo club in Toronto under the name The Cockroaches a year prior, in 1977, was a neat metaphor: Not only were they stripping down, they were making clear their intention to survive drugs, legal hassle, cultural change, nuclear holocaust and possibly time itself.)
Even the album’s title—Some Girls—called back to a younger, more restless Rolling Stones: riding around the world, doing this and signing that, just trying to make some girl. (Keith Richards, never as nasty as Mick Jagger but still tempted by the bon mot, joked that it was only called “Some Girls” because the band had forgotten the girls’ names.) Well, the girls got made, but the band was still around. The sound was tougher, more immediate. Fewer session musicians and synthesisers, more handclaps. Engineer Chris Kimsey arranged amps in a tight semicircle to mimic a club stage. Jagger’s fascination with disco (“Miss You”) and punk (“Respectable”, “Shattered”) appealed to the moment, but they also refreshed the project the band had been working on for 15 years: marrying working-class music from both sides of the racial divide.
And where Jagger could treat you like a dog and make you like it (“Miss You”, “Respectable”), Richards—responsible for “Before They Make Me Run” and the worn love of “Beast of Burden”—was tender and loyal, the guy who’d been through the wringer and was happy just to be alive. A few years earlier it seemed like the band were settling down. With Some Girls, they were winding up.