100 Greatest Rolling Stones Songs

17

"Can't You Hear Me Knocking" (1971)

The Rolling Stones
Jan Persson/Redferns

"Mick [Taylor] was lyrical," Watts said. "He had such a good ear." Taylor's elegance and power are on full display in "Can't You Hear Me Knocking." It's the Stones' greatest guitar extravaganza – brutal but wide-open and a rare moment of on-the-rec­ord, long-form jamming from a band that rarely indulged in sprawling musical explorations popular during the early Seventies. Maybe it isn't surprising, then, that the recording came about almost entirely by chance. The first third of the song is an elemental blues rocker rooted in a vintage fist-in-your-chops Richards riff and a funky, tight-coiled groove from Watts and Wyman. The extended instrumental section that comes in at the 2:40 mark happened because the band thought the song was over: "Toward the end of the song, I just felt like carrying on playing," Taylor recalled later. "Everybody was putting their instruments down, but the tape was still rolling, and it sounded good, so everybody quickly picked up their instruments again and carried on playing. It just happened, and it was a one-take thing." The results feature Taylor at his most fluid, playing Latin-tinged lines that wrap around Richards' bracing staccato shots. Saxophonist Bobby Keys adds a blues-wailing solo. "He was a very fluent, melodic player . . . and it gave me something to follow, to bang off," Jagger said of Taylor.

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