A Big 44-Hour Chronological Playlist of Rolling Stones Albums: Stream 613 Tracks

Image by Jim Pietry­ga, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

“Would you let your daugh­ter mar­ry a Rolling Stone?”

From the start, the Rolling Stones were pro­mot­ed as the more debauched, dan­ger­ous alter­na­tive to the Bea­t­les, prompt­ing the above rather-famous tabloid head­line from their first years of fame. The Spo­ti­fy playlist below col­lects a whop­ping 613 tracks from this sem­i­nal rock band, all placed for the most part in chrono­log­i­cal order. (At 44 hours, there’s still whole albums–not major one mind you–missing, due to Spo­ti­fy). The Stones may have been more com­plex than their bad boy image, but they’ve nev­er shrugged it off over their five decades in music, and it’s prob­a­bly too late to stop now.

But it was rough going at the start, wasn’t it? Their first sin­gle was a cov­er of a Chuck Berry song on the A‑side, and a Willie Dixon song on the flip. Their debut album con­tained only three orig­i­nals, with only “Tell Me” stand­ing out from the pack as some­thing oth­er than a car­bon copy. Their sec­ond sin­gle was a song the Bea­t­les gave to them–and even then the Fab Four record­ed a ver­sion of it, unlike the hits they gave to Cil­la Black and oth­ers. Andrew Loog Old­ham was their man­ag­er first and a pro­duc­er sec­ond, not used to the stu­dio at all, and instead of the state-of-the-art Abbey Road stu­dios to play in, the band had Regent Sound stu­dios, with egg car­tons taped to the ceil­ing to baf­fle noise. If this was com­pe­ti­tion against the Bea­t­les, it cer­tain­ly didn’t look good at first.

But despite–or due to–those chal­lenges, the band gained suc­cess and earned respect, start­ing with “(I Can’t Get no) Sat­is­fac­tion” and appear­ances on Ed Sul­li­van and the T.A.M.I. Show, where they actu­al­ly fol­lowed James Brown and weren’t for­got­ten by his­to­ry.

The Stones spent those first years fol­low­ing fash­ion, always one step behind the Bea­t­les, going so far as to offer their own “Satan­ic” ver­sion of the psy­che­del­ic Sgt. Pepper’s. But then, instead of play­ing dev­il­ish dress-up, in May of 1968 they dropped “Jumpin Jack Flash,” which for the first time embod­ies a very real, dan­ger­ous ener­gy. It wasn’t planned. But 1968 was when the Stones took the rock man­tle from their friend­ly rivals. If any band was ready to be the bridge from the hope­ful ‘60s to the grimy ‘70s, it was the Stones.

Their ear­li­er mim­ic­ry of blues and rock’n’roll was one thing, but their amal­gam of rock, blues, and Amer­i­cana on albums like Sticky Fin­gers and Exile on Main Street was some­thing else entire­ly, a spe­cial kind of alche­my that also seemed to tax the entire band–which even­tu­al­ly lost one found­ing mem­ber and shuf­fled through gui­tarists to find Ron Wood.

The late ‘70s and ear­ly ‘80s were an odd time for the band, as their biggest hits then were most unlike their pre­vi­ous hits, dal­ly­ing with dis­co, chan­nel­ing Lou Reed, and set­ting them­selves up for a very con­fused decade. But still! All along the way the Stones kept releas­ing sin­gles that oth­er bands would give their eye teeth for.

The playlist ends with the release of 2016’s Blue and Lone­some, which found them right back where they start­ed: a col­lec­tion of well loved blues cov­ers from Howl­in’ Wolf, Lit­tle Wal­ter, and Willie Dixon. In the end, they brought it all back home.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Rolling Stones Intro­duce Blues­man Howl­in’ Wolf on US TV, One of the “Great­est Cul­tur­al Moments of the 20th Cen­tu­ry” (1965)

Mick Jag­ger Tells the Sto­ry Behind ‘Gimme Shel­ter’ and Mer­ry Clayton’s Haunt­ing Back­ground Vocals

The Rolling Stones Release a Soul­ful, Nev­er-Heard Acoustic Ver­sion of “Wild Hors­es”

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the artist inter­view-based FunkZone Pod­cast and is the pro­duc­er of KCR­W’s Curi­ous Coast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

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