Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Rolling Stones, "Jumpin' Jack Flash" (1968)

June 15, 1968, #3

There are times I'm pretty sure this is the greatest rock 'n' roll song ever made. There are other times when it only seems overplayed and trite—the penalty for loving a song too much and too well perhaps, though to date it remains resilient enough to stage occasional pulsating comebacks every few years. Part of the reason I like it so well I'm sure is that it came of the Beggars Banquet sessions, an album that takes regular turns for me as favorite Rolling Stones album (trading off generally with Sticky Fingers and Out of Our Heads, though others butt in as well now and then). Why "Jumpin' Jack Flash" was not released on the album is anybody's guess, as far as I know. I'm willing to take the mythologizing route at this point and make the extravagant claims: It's too big to be contained on an album. It is an album. It rewired our brains and forced us to redefine the very concept of what an album is, etc. Yes, I know. But there is a tremendous amount packed into this three and a half minutes. It's the kind of song with the power to inspire one to sweeping statements. That impossible trebly crashing guitar, that stomping back beat, the way it finds a space that logically belongs to somebody else a long time ago and puts its stamp all over it, Grade AAA prime rock 'n' roll. It glides, it soars, it struts and preens. Can't take your eyes off it. Older than rock 'n' roll. Older than the 20th century. But work the focus and there it is again: the Stones, Mick Jagger a-leaping about the place, cranking out the mocking, jeering, irresistible sounds of bitter envy and revelry. For better and for worse. And in sickness and health too, for that matter. In other words, and to get right to the point, "Jumpin' Jack Flash is a gas gas gas."

1 comment:

  1. I'm pretty sure this was the one and only Stones single in my early 45 collection, which had nothing to do w/ other Stones singles but was purely a matter of timing and the Top 40 rotation at 62 KGW, Portland, OR, at the end of the '60s. Still to this day when I think of Jagger's simultaneously mincing and prancing dance I think of this song. It echoes in bolder strokes "Satisfaction." I think of it like the Clash's "Jail Guitar Doors." It perfectly encapsulates the Stones sound at their peak but the lyric makes it seem somehow dated, product, trite. Your forget about it and then hear it again and think how there was this time when the Stones were originals creating prototypes of rock & roll.