Hollis Brown/Following/Fresh Green Records
3.5 out of five stars
Over the years, the Rolling Stones have provided a musical catalog primed with cover candidates for other artists, a wealth of material that has been gleaned from a number of outfits that have since come and gone. That said, it’s unusual to find a band choosing to tackle an entire album song for song. With Hollis Brown opting for that tact, it offers a unique perspective, especially relevant now in the wake of the loss of Charlie Watts and the conclusion of a tour that may well be the Stones’ last hurray.
The album in question, Consequences, found Jagger, Richards, Jones, Watts and Wyman at a creative peak, laying the groundwork for Beggars Banquet, Exile on Main Street and the other albums that would soon follow. He was knowledgeable about the attitude, sassiness, arrogance, and other outlaw attributes that made up the Stones’ signature style. The fact that Hollis Brown attempted to re-enact it with such purpose and precision – down to the cover design in fact – reflects the idea that Consequences was an essential album that inspired the punk brigades that followed in their wake, whether they were willingly acknowledged or not.
That said, Following cannot be considered a greatest hit of any kind, let alone a true study of the Stones’ sound. While several songs clearly qualify for inclusion in the roll call of the Stones’ great songs – “Paint It Black”, “Lady Jane” and “Under My Thumb” in particular – most of the tracks are deep cuts that only a true Stones fan would judge. invaluable. Although they helped underpin the strength of the album as a whole, they never really achieved separate status as important songs. “Goin’ Home” in particular was essentially an extended jam, with the Hollis Brown version lasting just over seven minutes, just short of the Consequences original.
Essentially, these newer versions vary little from the original renditions. That said, vocalist Mike Montali provides a riotous growl that takes Jagger’s pissed off attitude even further. Wrapped in stubborn trappings, these covers are a natural evolution of the Stones’ own insurgency. As a result, there’s a sense of menace and malevolence that informs the album as a whole. Consider this sympathy for the devil reason enough to make Mick and the boys very proud.