The Rolling Stones: 'Out of Our Heads' Revisited

Anthony DeCurtis considers the historical significance of the Stones' fourth record

Album Cover, sleeve, out of our heads, THe Rolling Stones, Record, 1965
GAB Archive/Redferns/Getty
The album cover sleeve of Out Of Our Heads by the Rolling Stones, record released in 1965.
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Things Moved Fast Back in the day: The Rolling Stones' first four albums came out between May 1964 and July 1965, and all four are essential to an understanding of the origins of blues-based rock & roll. Out of Our Heads was the last in that series, and it culminated the Stones' commercial breakthrough in America.

To make the album, the Stones returned in May 1965 to Chess Studios, in Chicago, home of their blues idols and the place where the Stones themselves had recorded parts of 12x5 the year before. They completed Out of Our Heads at sessions in Hollywood and London.

Like its three predecessors. Out of Our Heads draws heavily on the work of American R&B musicians who were all but unknown to white teenagers both in this country and in the United Kingdom. The Stones delivered raw covers of Don Covay's "Mercy Mercy." Otis Redding's "That's How Strong My Love Is" (an apex of Stones live shows of the period). Sam Cooke's "Good Times," Solomon Burke's "Cry to Me" and Marvin Gaye's "Hitch Hike."

500 Greatest Albums of All Time: No. 116, Out of Our Heads

The breakthrough, however, came with two songs the Stones wrote themselves: "The Last Time" and "Satisfaction," On those tracks. Jagger found the theme – petulant dissatisfaction – that best suited the persona he had been developing, and Keith Richards assumed his mantle as King of the Riff. Still uncertain as songwriters, the Stones often credited their original tunes to the made-up name Nanker Phelge, as they did for "Play With Fire," "The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man" and "I'm All Right" on this album. "The Last Time" and "Satisfaction," though, proudly bear the "Jagger; Richard" (sic) stamp.

"Satisfaction" pegged the Stones as the bad boys of rock. The song's sexual references triggered hand-wringing in the mainstream media, bringing down precisely the kind of heat the band thrived on. Their defiance made the Stones heroes of the then-burgeoning counterculture. The album's title was something of a taunt: "Yes, we're as crazy as you think we are and probably high, as well." A line had been drawn in the sand, and there was no doubt where the Stones stood.

This story is from the April 29th, 1999 issue of Rolling Stone.


From The Archives Issue 811: April 29, 1999