Jumpin' Jack Flash - The Rolling Stones

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"Jumpin' Jack Flash" - The Rolling Stones (1968)

Released as a single in April 1968, "Jumping' Jack Flash" was seen as the band's return to their blues roots after the psychedelic feel of the albums Between the Buttons and Their Satanic Majesties Request.

The lyrics were full of overwhelming sardonicism and irony as The Stones seemed to be building a mythology for themselves as sleazy but charming ruffians and not at all afraid to be referred to as such. 

Once referred to as "supernatural Delta blues by way of Swinging London," "Jumping' Jack Flash"  marked a return to the band's familiar classic blues-rock guitar sound.  The distinctive, grungy (in the pre-Seattle sense of the term) texture of the guitar chords heard in much of the track was achieved by recording some of the guitar parts on cassette -- an early application of the lo-fi aesthetic technique pioneered by country and western legend George Jones who taught it to Keith Richards. The distinctive texture to the guitar chords would later influence Nirvana and countless other grunge bands of the 1980s.

According to Richards, he and Jagger had been up all night trying to write a song and they heard the sound of boots near the window which woke them up.  The sound was made by Richards' gardener, Jack Dyer.  Jagger asked what the sound was.  Richards responded: "Oh, that's Jack. That's jumping Jack". 

Richards started working around the phrase on the guitar which was in open tuning, singing the phrase "Jumping Jack" when Jagger screamed out: "Flash". 

Richards commented:

"Suddenly we had this phrase with a great rhythm and ring to it. When you get a riff like 'Flash,' you get a great feeling of elation, a wicked glee. I can hear the whole band take off behind me every time I play 'Flash' - there's this extra sort of turbo overdrive. You jump on the riff and it plays you. Levitation is probably the closest analogy to what I feel."

Years later, bassist Bill Wyman claimed that he came up with the song's distinctive main guitar riff on an organ without being credited for it.

He claims:

"I arrived at the studio early, sat down at the piano and started doing this riff, "da-daw, da-da-daw, da-da-daw" and then Brian played a bit of guitar and Charlie was doing a rhythm".

 

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