December 3-4, 1969. Keith and Mick stood at the same microphone at Muscle Shoals, lights dimmed, splitting a fifth of bourbon, and simultaneously sang the melodies and harmonies on the three songs that they had recorded over three days: “Brown Sugar,” “You Got to Move,” and “Wild Horses.” That’s your rock ‘n’ roll fantasy right there, pal. A six-piece band working in a tiny converted coffin factory across from an Alabama graveyard, on an eight-track recorder, with no computer editing or Autotune, recorded three songs, representing 30 percent of one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll records of all time.
So tells Bill Janovitz of the making of the inimitable triple-platinum album, Sticky Fingers, which hit number one in the US and the UK in 1971, skyrocketing the band to superstardom.
To Bill, all artists reveal themselves through their work and the Rolling Stones are no different: Each song exposes a little more of their soul. In Rocks Off, Janovitz reveals the forces at work behind the band's music by deconstructing their most representative tunes from their incredible fifty years of record making. Written by a Stones fanatic, this is a song-by-song chronicle that maps the landmarks of the band's career while expanding on their recording and personal history. Much like friends pouring over old records or having a barroom argument over the merits of certain songs, the book presents the musical leaps taken by Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, and the rest of the band and discusses how the lyrical content both reflected and influenced popular culture. The song choices are chronological and subjective; many of them are the classic hits; however, the book digs deeper into beloved album tracks and songs with unique stories behind them.
Rocks Off is the ultimate listening guide and thinking man's companion that will spur you to dust off those old albums and listen in with a newfound perspective on one of the most famous and acclaimed rock 'n' roll bands of all time.
"Janovitz is an extremely engaging companion...he is consistently illuminating, not only defending his songs well, but inspiring you to think more strenuously about the selections you would add or delete." —The New York Times Book Review
"Rocks Off is an intense pleasure—a series of love letters plus a few notes of despair...Janovitz opened my mind." —Wall Street Journal
"A book that will have you dusting off your LPs (or turning on your iPod) with a new appreciation for the iconic band." —Parade Magazine
"[Janovitz] is an astute observer of the Stones' remarkable canon of songs, offering fresh and insightful analyses and exploring numerous "underappreciated album gems." His vibrant description of "Gimme Shelter" alone is worth the price of the book...a must for Stones fans everywhere." —Booklist Review
"A book about 50 significant Stones recordings could have practically written itself. But it wouldn't have written itself nearly as well as Janovitz has; close listening and an ear for detail distinguish his analyses." —Kirkus Review
"In this glimmering set of unabashed fan's notes, guitarist and music writer Janovitz (Exile on Main Street) enthusiastically and movingly traces the evolution of the world's greatest rock 'n' roll band, song by song...Reading Janovitz is like sitting with a friend in a basement surrounded by albums, and spending the entire day listening to, arguing about, and worshipping the many licks that have become part of our musical vocabulary." —Publishers Weekly
"Through loving and informed close readings of fifty pivotal Stones songs, Bill Janovitz finds a new way to tell the band's story—and reminds even the biggest fans that for all the drama, gossip, and myth that has always surrounded the Rolling Stones, it is the music that will stand forever." —Alan Light, author of The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah"
"By focusing intently on individual songs, Bill Janovitz has written a stealth history of the Stones, tracking their personal lives and complicated relationships, illuminating the many phases of their artistic evolution, and making a strong case for their enduring cultural influence. Rocks Off is a smart, informative, and highly entertaining look at the Stones’ monumental body of work, written by a veteran musician who also happens to be a discerning critic and a diehard fan." —Tom Perrotta, bestselling author of Little Children and The Leftovers
"When it comes to what the Stones are doing on a particular track, as well as why they are doing it, Bill Janovitz gets right to the heart of the matter in Rocks Off: 50 Tracks that Tell the Story of the Rolling Stones. A must read for all those who share his unbridled passion for the band and their music." —Robert Greenfield, author of Exile On Main St.: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones and S.T.P.: A Journey Through America With The Rolling Stones
"Seasoned rock musician Bill Janovitz, co-founder of Buffalo Tom, evokes the gritty brilliance of the Rolling Stones in exactly the right way—by digging deep into their music. The 50 essays, each describing a key song in the band's 50 year career, weave Janovitz's fastidious research with his passion for music to make the Stones come alive on the page. By the time he's done Janovitz proves that the Stones catalogue isn't only rock 'n' roll, it's five decades of cultural history set in rhythm, blues and serious bad-assery." —Peter Ames Carlin, bestselling author of Bruce