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Music / Aftermath (Album)

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Aftermath (UK cover).
Aftermath (US cover).

I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my red door, I must have it painted black
Maybe then I'll fade away and not have to face the facts
It's not easy facing up when your whole world is black

No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue
I could not foresee this thing happening to you
If I look hard enough into the setting sun
My love will laugh with me before the morning comes
"Paint It, Black"

Aftermath is the fourth studio album (sixth American album) by British rock band The Rolling Stones. It was released on Decca Records in the UK on 15 April 1966, and on London Records in the US on 2 July of that year.

It remains a critic and fan favourite, and is usually ranked as among their best albums, along with Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile on Main St., while songs like "Mother's Little Helper" (on the UK version), "Paint It, Black" (on the US version), and "Under My Thumb" became international hits.

This is the Stones' first album to wholly consist of songs written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and consequently features no covers. It was also their first album to showcase Brian Jones's multi-instrumental abilities, as they started expanding their musical ambitions beyond the straightforward blues and R&B influences of their earlier material.

The album hit #2 on the Billboard 200 album chart (#1 on the Cashbox Top 100 album chart) in the US, and #1 on the Original Charts Company album chart in the UK. It was eventually certified Platinum by the RIAA, but only Silver by the BPI. "Paint it, Black" would become their third #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 and Cashbox Top 100 in the US, and sixth #1 single on the UK Pop chart.

Tracklist (UK Version):

Side One

  1. "Mother's Little Helper" (2:45)
  2. "Stupid Girl" (2:56)
  3. "Lady Jane" (3:08)
  4. "Under My Thumb" (3:41)
  5. "Doncha Bother Me" (2:41)
  6. "Goin' Home" (11:13)

Side Two

  1. "Flight 505" (3:27)
  2. "High and Dry" (3:08)
  3. "Out of Time" (5:37)
  4. "It's Not Easy" (2:56)
  5. "I Am Waiting" (3:11)
  6. "Take It or Leave It" (2:47)
  7. "Think" (3:09)
  8. "What to Do" (2:32)

Tracklist (US Version):

Side One

  1. "Paint It, Black" (3:22)
  2. "Stupid Girl" (2:56)
  3. "Lady Jane" (3:08)
  4. "Under My Thumb" (3:41)
  5. "Doncha Bother Me" (2:41)
  6. "Think" (3:09)

Side Two

  1. "Flight 505" (3:27)
  2. "High and Dry" (3:08)
  3. "It's Not Easy" (2:56)
  4. "I Am Waiting" (3:11)
  5. "Goin' Home" (11:13)

Principal Members:

  • Mick Jagger - lead vocals, harmonica, percussion, tambourine
  • Brian Jones - guitar, piano, organ, harpsichord, marimba, sitar, dulcimer, harmonica, koto, percussion, triangle
  • Keith Richards - guitar, vocals
  • Charlie Watts - drums, percussion, glockenspiel
  • Bill Wyman - bass, vocals, organ pedals

Mother's Little Tropers:

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: "Stupid Girl"
    She purrs like a pussy-cat
  • Alternate Album Cover: The U.S. and U.K. versions had completely different covers.
  • Artistic License – Biology: "Doncha Bother Me"
    Well, the lines 'round my eyes are protected by a copyright law
  • Color Motifs: "Paint It, Black"
    I see a red door and I want it painted black
    No colors anymore, I want them to turn black

    (...) No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue
  • Death by Irony: "Flight 505", where a passenger takes a plane flight and starts a new life.
    Well, I sat right there in my seat
    Well, feeling like a king
    With the whole world right at my feet
    "Of course I'll have a drink!"
    Well, suddenly I saw that we never ever would arrive
    He put the plane down in the sea
    The end of flight number 505
  • Death Song and Downer Ending:
    • The mother in "Mother's Little Helper" overdoses on her pills and dies.
    • The aeroplane passenger in "Flight 505" is unsatisfied with his life and decides to take a new start on flight number 505. Then the plane crashes in the sea.
  • Domestic Abuser: "Under My Thumb" is written from the perspective of one, to the point where he controls how she dresses.
  • Drugs Are Bad: "Mother's Little Helper'
    And if you take more of those, you will get an overdose
  • Epic Rocking: The 11:13 "Goin' Home".
  • Extreme Doormat:
    • What women need to be according to the protagonist in "Under My Thumb".
    • A male example is the protagonist in "Lady Jane"
      Your servant am I
      And will humbly remain
      Just heed this plea, my love
      On bended knee, my love
      I pledge myself to Lady Jane
  • Face on the Cover: Both covers feature a group shot of the band.
  • Grief Song: "Paint It Black" is about a man who is grieving after the death of his loved one, and wants to paint everything black.
  • Housewife: "Mother's Little Helper" was supposed to be about the hypocrisy of older people disapproving of drug abuse amongst the young while themselves popping pills. But it's also a surprisingly insightful portrait of a housewife who's driven to drug abuse by boredom.
    "Things are different today," I hear every mother say
    Cooking fresh food for her husband's just a drag
  • Hypocrite: The narrator of "Under My Thumb" is free to look at other women, even as he expects his girlfriend to remain faithful.
  • Leave Me Alone!: "Doncha Bother Me".
    I said: "Oh no, dontcha follow me no more
    I said: "Oh no, dontcha follow me no more
    Well, I'm looking for my face
    And I got no place to go.
  • Leave the Camera Running: According to Keith Richards, only the first two and a half minutes of "Goin' Home" was written before the recording session. The band decided to leave the tape running as they jammed for an additional nine minutes.
  • Longest Song Goes Last: The US version ends with "Goin' Home", clocking in at over 11 minutes. Downplayed for the UK version, in which "Goin' Home", while not the album's proper closing track, is still the last one on the first side.
  • Manchild: "Think"
    You say I lack maturity
    But think back, back a little bit baby
    Back, back, alright!

    (...) We're not children anymore
    We don't need to play with toys
    Take a look and you will find
    You're gettin' old before your time.
  • Misogyny Song:
    • "Under My Thumb"
      It's down to me, oh that's what I said
      The way she talks when she's spoken to
      Down to me, the change has come
      She's under my thumb
    • "Out of Time"
      You're obsolete, my baby
      My poor old-fashioned baby
      I said, baby, baby, baby, you're out of time
    • "Stupid Girl"
      She bitches 'bout things that she's never seen
      Look at that stupid girl
      It doesn't matter if she dyes her hair
      Or the colour of the shoes she wears
      She's the worst thing in this world
      Well, look at that stupid girl
    • "High and Dry"
      Anything I wished for, I only had to ask her
      I think she found out it was money I was after

      (...) It's lucky that I didn't have any love towards her
      Next time I'll make sure that the girl'll be much poorer
  • New Sound Album: While the blues-based sound of their earlier work hasn't disappeared entirely, this album finds the Stones incorporating elements of folk-rock, Beatlesque pop, and even some early psychedelia.
    • Brian Jones also begins his multi-instrumental experimentation here. For instance, "Paint It, Black" features him playing a sitar, a new instrument in the Stones' catalogue.
  • Non-Appearing Title: The word "Aftermath" doesn't appear in any of the lyrics.
  • One-Woman Song: "Lady Jane".
  • One-Word Title: Aftermath and "Think".
  • Paint It Black: Trope Namer (the actual song has nothing to do with the trope).
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Borrowed Tune" from Neil Young's Tonight's the Night (1975) uses the same melody as "Lady Jane", which is lampshaded by him in the song:
      I'm singin' this borrowed tune
      I took from the Rolling Stones
      Alone in this empty room
      Too wasted to write my own
    • "Paint It, Black" has become a Standard Snippet to play in media set during The Vietnam War. The film Full Metal Jacket and the series Tour of Duty both play the song over their end credits.
    • During the Stones' performance of "Under My Thumb" at the 1969 Altamont festival as documented in the film Gimme Shelter (1970), a man — Meredith Hunter — was murdered on camera. It's often said that the song was "Sympathy for the Devil", but this is an Urban Legend.
  • There's No Place Like Home: "Going Home"
    When you're three thousand miles away
    I just never sleep the same
    If I packed my things right now
    I could be home in seven hours
    I'm goin' home...
  • Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma: Although originally titled without a comma, the release version was styled "Paint It, Black". Keith Richards has stated that the comma was added by the record label, Decca, and that the comma stirred confusion and potential controversy with some listeners: "There were some weird letters, racial letters. 'Was there a comma in the title? Was it an order to the world?'"
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The narrator in "Paint It, Black" who lost their love and wants to "see the sun blotted out from the sky."
  • World Music: Brian Jones plays sitar during "Paint It, Black".