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. Although the Stones started out as a cover band, they soon ascended to pantheon of rock music history as a result of their original compositions. Janovitz points out that “the music of the Stones has mirrored and provided a soundtrack for their own generation, while charting a road map and a catalog of timeless rock ’n’ roll archetypes for those that followed.” Janovitz traces the Stones’ journey by digging deep into the music and lyrics of the songs, illustrating the ways that they provide keys to the growth, struggles, and development of the band. The Stones’ first single, “Tell Me,” for example, is lyrically “a string of clichés, but with enough urgency and snarl to give indication of the Stones’ tougher stance than that of the Beatles.” With the success of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” the band began to appreciate the influence they had on listeners and the ways that their songs reflected the time. 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. (July)
“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 pleasurea 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 storyand 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 wayby 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
Expanding from his previous book about a single key album (Exile on Main Street, 2005), Buffalo Tom frontman Janovitz covers the Rolling Stones' entire recording career. With all the hoopla surrounding the band's 50th anniversary and the tour celebrating that milestone, 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. By concentrating on the recordings--and not even albums as a whole, but specific tracks and singles--the author shifts the focus away from the band's live performances and offstage notoriety, taking the spotlight off Mick Jagger to explore the crucial yet underacknowledged contributions of bassist Bill Wyman. Janovitz also demonstrates just how important Brian Jones was in the development of the band's music and persona, while underscoring the subsequent virtuosity of Mick Taylor. As a musician, he highlights elements within the arrangements that might escape even a passionate fan. Yet Janovitz too is "an unabashed fan," and his enthusiasm serves him well--though to describe "Jumping Jack Flash" at this late date as "one of their greatest songs...commanding and ballsy" would seem to belabor the obvious. The author experienced the music of the Stones' glory days after the fact; when he gets to "Angie," he notes that it was "the first Rolling Stones single I remember hearing contemporaneously," which means that he can only imagine the immediacy and context of hearing the band's musical progression as it unfolded. Nonetheless, his insights are shrewd and should inspire listeners to return to the recordings with fresh ears, recognizing that the Stones are more than Mick and Keith. Even fanatics will learn something here.