Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Rolling Stones - Aftermath (1966)

My initial reaction to this album was disappointment, but alas, that came by using The Beatles as the standard. This is what happens when an album is hyped up as being "The Rolling Stones' Revolver." Groundbreaking for The Beatles means the westward wind was diverted east and the sun has stood still. Groundbreaking for The Kinks means the most thought-provoking introspective poetry to come out of England since Wilfred Owen or Rudyard Kipling. Groundbreaking for The Who is a spiritual experience. Groundbreaking for The Rolling Stones is that they did an album of all-original songs.

I say this with a bit of joking derision, but also much affection. John and Paul could hiccup and a decent song would tumble out. For Dylan or Davies it wasn't second nature to them, it was their first nature. In the case of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, their manager locked them in a drawing room until they'd written a song. It was a bit more of a challenge for them, and their early work shows a clear line of development and improvement as songwriters. Their successes and failures got released, from early masterpieces like "Tell Me (You're Coming Back)" to slightly airheaded (but really well-produced) stuff like "Play With Fire."

Mick and Keith could always fall back on the blues, or even somewhat contemporary R&B tunes, on their albums. They did a cover of Barrett Strong's "Money," and while The Beatles' version is a thumping romp, The Stones are downright menacing. Their demand for money - and lots of it - might as well be the musical version of getting mugged. They even did a cover of Marvin Gaye's "Hitch-Hike." I would hate to call it a crutch for the band, but it always seemed like a safety zone for them. They had seven songs in the can for an album? Add five covers and the album's a done deal.

Ok, so it was a crutch...but it's also what made them unique. I've said this before, but The Beatles weren't a blues band. Their version of Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away" is given the full Bo Diddley treatment, turning a fairly pristine pop song into sounding like a blues song from yesteryear. And Mick Jagger is a terrific blues singer. The Yardbirds were the second-greatest blues band in England, but not because of their singer, Keith Relf; what put them on the map was their succession of guitarists.

That said, it only dawned on me one of the last times I listened to Aftermath that expecting Dylanesque lyrics over a shimmering sonic backdrop with The Rolling Stones is like expecting an album of doo-wop standards by The Kinks (now, Neil or Zappa, that's another story...). Yes, Dylan had some impact on The Rolling Stones - "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" is a pretty good example of this. But their roots were deep in the soil of the blues, soul, and to a surprisingly equal extent American country music.

What I'm building up to is that side B of Aftermath used to strike me as slightly unimpressive, by and large. But in the years that have passed since my initial listen - again, thanks to some twat who calls himself a journalist I was expecting another Revolver - it's come to me that this album is the logical development of the music that inspired them in the first place. They were finally able to write a proper blues song themselves and give it their own edge in the same way they'd been doing with Howlin' Wolf numbers. It's not like The Rolling Stones would ever start sounding like The Beatles out of the blue.

Oh...right - Between The Buttons and Their Satanic Majesties Request. Touche. Perhaps that's why Aftermath feels the odd man out of their innovative works from the mid-60's. I consider these three albums to make up a trilogy, in the same manner as Help!, Rubber Soul, and Revolver - let me qualify this claim - in that they began to challenge their established sound and songwriting. Would they have ever thought to use a xylophone on a record in 1963? Doubt it.

There's some terrific Rolling Stones moments on this record, with some of Mick and Keith's greatest songs all captured here, but the album is tossed askew by one mammoth of a tune that depending on who you ask is either a major distraction or a step in the development of more progressive rock and roll. I'm of the former school of thought. It's also a pretty long album for its time - 53 minutes - but as far as I am concerned, 11 of those minutes should have stayed on the cutting room floor. (Then again, if that had been the case, the song in question would be enshrined as the great lost Stones epic. Oh, fans...we're so fickle, so stupid...)

Since we're at an album that was markedly different in the US than it was in the UK, let me just reiterate that in these instances I always regard the UK version as the standard. This is the one with the artist-approved track listing and mixes. (Well, for the most part, let's leave the mono versus stereo debate for a rainy day. No, let's actually save that debate for monsoon season.) Thankfully, the differences are minor with The Who and The Kinks. With the latter, the US-only records have been considered obsolete since they went out of print. One of the few times The Kinks' period of obscurity in the United States worked in their favor.

I can't get behind anyone claiming the superiority of one of the American versions of a Rolling Stones album, or for that matter The Beatles (just wait till I do Rubber Soul!) because the UK albums give you more bang for your buck. There are fourteen tracks on the UK version of Aftermath. Somewhere in the Atlantic, in transit to the States, a whopping five songs seemed to fall off the boat and be replaced by "Paint It Black," their latest single. I love "Paint It Black." I think it's one of the band's greatest songs, period. But in the UK, singles wouldn't often grace LP's.

Oh, and the four songs that got lost on the voyage to the US? They were "Mother's Little Helper," "Out Of Time," "Take It Or Leave It," and "What To Do." I can't imagine the album without any of them!

Ironically, the US version runs about 11 minutes shorter. I can think of another tune that I would have rather had on the chopping block, one running just about that length. Strange...

01. Mother's Little Helper [10]
What I love about the early Rolling Stones is their image, however contrived and cooked up by Andrew Loog Oldham it might have been, as these snotty anti-authoritarians. This is a full-out attack on the middle-aged and the middle-classed, the same people who wanted to see Mick and Keith and Brian go to jail for a long, long time during the drug trials of the next year while at the same time popping pills to endure the drudgeries of their own lives. This was pretty heavy stuff in 1966, and it still is today. Drug culture is frowned upon by the mainstream, but cut to commercial and they're trying to sell you a pill for restless leg syndrome. Antidepressants have caused suicides, but damn those who go down the destructive path of drug use!

Now, I say this as a fan of neither. You'd be hard-pressed to get me to take something for a headache. But I certainly see the hypocrisy of pill-poppers lining the pockets of the drug companies who look down their collective noses at people who are doing the exact same thing on the opposite side of the law.

This is a great nose-thumbing opener. What sounds like a sitar in this song is just a heavily effected slide guitar, probably an electric twelve-string. I love how the song starts: "What a drag it is getting old..." before the rest of group joins in. Nice, bouncy drums and bass by the second-best rhythm section of all time. (Number one being Duck Dunn and Al Jackson Jr. from Booker T. & The MG's.) It should probably be mentioned that the Stones had never made a record this sonically innovative by this point. I can only imagine how it felt to hear this when it first came out.

02. Stupid Girl [10]
Don't be duped by any overtly p.c. reviews you see, this song is not misogynistic or sexist. (Don't worry, when they DO take a misogynistic or sexist voice, I'll call it out.) Maybe it's because I've met more than a few girls that I could easily dedicate this song to. I know I stated earlier that one shouldn't look too hard for traces of Dylan in the Stones, but the carnivalesque organ that leads this song sounds straight off of "Like A Rolling Stone" or "Positively 4th Street."

Whether you're a Stones neophyte or a hardcore fan, I strongly recommend Keno's Rolling Stones website. In fact, his homepage has links to his sites on The Rolling Stones, classic rock polls, John Lennon, and Hound Dog Taylor. I've talked to him before via email - seeing as he runs a website I'm sure I was just another bullet point in his inbox - and he seems like a very nice guy.

(I've had at least one bad online run-in with a webmaster for a site dedicated to one of my favorite bands. Won't say WHO the band or site in question was, other than that I CAN'T EXPLAIN how upsetting his stand-offish behavior was to me and I WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN to believe that in contacting a site-runner that we're automatically friends because of our mutual love of a band...though that is how it should be.)

Anyway, doing what I normally do for these reviews involves having the album pulled up on iTunes and double-checking the song's lyrics. In the case of The Rolling Stones, Mick either mumbles or the recording is just so damn murky (I'm looking at you, Exile On Main Street!) that you can't tell what he's singing. Reading the lyrics at Keno's site, I was surprised to see a transcription of the vocalizations in the song's middle section. I'd always though it was just a percussive "chop! chop!" to keep time or something. They're in fact saying "Shut up, shut up!" again and again, making this song that much cooler.

03. Lady Jane [10]
I'd always loved this song since I first heard it, thinking it as a nice little medieval/baroque ballad. But hearing Neil Young's "Borrowed Tune" (in which he mentions that the borrowed tune is from the Stones), which is based on the melody of "Lady Jane," the sheer beauty of the melody was made all the more apparent to me. Listening to Aftermath end to end for the first time in a long time last night, "Lady Jane" sent chills down my spine. It's a gorgeous, haunting song, with the harpsichord and Brian Jones' dulcimer giving the song its centuries-old flavor. Not bad for a pair of kids raised on the blues!

04. Under My Thumb [10]
Ok, I will readily admit, this song is sexist. But as with this song or "Brown Sugar" or "Some Girls," one must raise the issue of how likely it is that the song is being delivered in a voice. Frank Zappa's "Bobby Brown Goes Down" was from the perspective of the type of white, upper-class male he hated - you hear "I got a cheerleader here / Wants to help with my paper / Let her do all the work / 'N maybe later I'll rape her" and know it's a joke.

Is this to be meant in the same way? I don't know. I sure hope so. You look at the ladies in Mick Jagger's life: Anita Pallenberg, Chrissie Shrimpton, Marianne Faithfull, Bianca Jagger, Jerry Hall...these are all pretty tough, independent women. To ease the mood, Brian Jones was quite an asshole to Anita Pallenberg, who he also dated for a while, prompting Keith (apparently a knight in shining armor - I'm not kidding!) to steal her from him. Ms. Pallenberg has gone on record stating Keith was the nicest and the best lover. I don't think Keith would have shared songwriting credit on a deliberately sexist song.

Hopefully that issue can be laid to rest...

This is a good song. No, this is a great song. Musically, it's catchy and quite well-produced, with the handclaps, a fuzzed-out bass, and Brian Jones on marimba. (A marimba being a tuned percussion instrument like the xylophone but with wooden keys, oddly enough giving it a fairly wooden, resonant tone.) That fuzz bass sounds great, forty-three (!) years later.

As a sidenote, it is interesting seeing Brian Jones trying to look cool and defiant while playing the dulcimer and the marimba in these videos. I'm rough on the guy because of how willfully he squandered his own talent until he became a washed-up flake; it says something to be in the same band as Keith Richards and get kicked out for doing too many drugs.

05. Doncha Bother Me [9]
After knocking it out of the park with four back-to-back classic Stones pieces, this song might sound like a streak-stopping dud. But I like it a lot. I consider it like a note for the listener, musically, saying, "It's okay, we're messing around with fuzz tones and dulcimers and harpsichords and marimbas, but we've not forgotten our beloved blues!" It was recorded alongside most of the rest of this album, meaning during the same sessions that yielded "Lady Jane" and "I Am Waiting," they ripped and roared through this tune.

It sounds like it should be some old Howlin' Wolf tune they dusted off, but it's a Jagger/Richards composition, with its sneering slide guitar line, rattling percussion, Charlie's cymbals on the bridge adding a good (but short-lived) dose of noise, and a great harmonica line. This song would have been perfect if they'd gone through the chorus one last time with Charlie keeping time on his kit as it fades out, but that's just me. Still a great tune, able to hold its own against the heavyweights on the rest of side A.

06. Going Home [3]
Ok, this is a pretty divisive piece. This closes out the first side of the album, and it is a full eleven minute, fifteen second blues/jam that I find more than a few issues with. For me, it hovers over the rest of the album like a black cloud, so let's just roll up our sleeves and get dirty on this one.

This song should be fading out into oblivion around the three-minute, forty-five second mark. But it doesn't. It just keeps going. Unfortunately, throughout this first portion of the song, it seems to be building up...but to what? Well, nothing, really.

Most days I'm not in the mood to sit down and soak all 675 seconds of it. With the album's running time of 53 minutes, it could have done just fine without this meandering workout. Richie Unterberger, writing for AllMusic, nails it in his review of this track: "There's the sense of the track getting drawn out more for the purposes of adding to its length than to make necessary musical and lyrical points, verging on clumsiness..."

This song also set a bad, bad precedent in rock music: the idea that a song can be of extended length simply because you want it to be. Take a song that should theoretically last three to four minutes, but stretch it out to seven minutes. Or ten. Or fill up an LP side (roughly 23 minutes). Don't get me wrong, I can think of another 11-minute long song - Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row" - that is perfect in almost every regard. But Dylan's a lyricist, and he doesn't waste a second. It isn't of that length because of a meandering blues jam.

In all fairness, I could see myself defending this song in another context, or even in another mood. When you play with a band, you can get a good thing going and not really want to stop, and it's a Hell of a lot of fun. Tragically, having both participated in and witnessed this, it's only fun if you're part of it or if it's there, right in front of you. Otherwise, it's a yawn-fest.

And this, friends, is why I don't like jam bands. Music shouldn't feel like it's just there. Or at least the best music shouldn't just feel like it's there, unless you're listening to an ambient record, where that is the objective of it. Anyway, this song is a major distraction. It actually gets better in the last two or three minutes of it, but by that point you've sat through eight or nine minutes of so-so material. By which point just about anything would sound like blessed relief, it doesn't seem worth it, and even then it would sound horribly out of context without the last nine minutes before it.

In short, as my criteria for a 3 states, "Bad. Next time you hear the album, you will definitely skip this one. It downright annoys you." Look no further.

Can't wait till I unearth a 2 or, God help us all, a 1! Guarantee you that if it will come from any artist I've reviewed so far, it will most likely be The Rolling Stones. When they're good, they are ON, but when they're not so good...yikes...

07. Flight 505 [9.5]
Remember my spiel about the second halves of early Beatle records getting a bum rap? Aftermath seems to suffer a similar fate, with all but one of the big tracks, known by the slightly-more-than-casual fans, gracing the A-side. If you're going to make an album, try to keep it paced in terms of quality. Front-load it with all your best tunes and the rest of your record will just seem...dull to most listeners.

Side B of this album isn't the stomping ground of the titans, no, but to enjoy it my advice is to take a break, then come back to it. Besides, on CD, "Flight 505" is a breath of fresh air after "Going Home." The most innovative stuff you've heard, with a nice throwback to their roots by way of "Doncha Bother Me," and Side B takes these two extremes and fuses them together.

If it sounds like I'm making a big deal about sides, it's because I am. It's a lost art form of sequencing and pacing songs to make a listenable whole. I'm also doing my damndest to defend the latter half of this record, probably due to my own initial blowing-off of it when I first hear the album five and a half years ago. (God, it's already been that long?)

"Flight 505" is a straight-up rock tune, twisted by the piano intro that sounds like it was recorded two doors down. Lots of ambient-sounding echo. Lyrically, it's funny, a tale of a man who decides to escape his old life - though nothing is really amiss with it - and hops Flight 505. The punchline comes when his plane crashes. To me, it's like their own comment on the growing idea of escapism throughout popular music, of their entire generation wondering what it's all about and ditching their old lives for no real reason at all to pursue the answer. This sums up their own cynicism towards it. Then again, they could have just sat down and decided to write a song with a funny ending. I don't know, I wasn't there. But it's a really good song.

08. High And Dry [8]
Interesting use of the compressed cymbals as a timekeeping device, but at the same time it borders on being irritating. Musically, it shows the band just as much in tune with country music - traditional white American music - as they were with blues, which was traditional black American music. As far as I can recall, this is their first real foray into anything resembling country, though hardly the last. And not quite the best.

09. Out Of Time [9.5]
I initially gave this one a lower score due to my preference for the version found on their odds and sods collection, Metamorphosis. That version was a different backing track, with strings, tambourine, and Mick's presence serving only as guiding vocal for friend Chris Farlowe, who had a minor hit with it. Hearing that version first, I always thought this one seemed just a little off, with its organ and marimba arrangements - and no strings.

Then I gave it a thorough re-listening and and realized I used to be a complete idiot.

Two things: first, the version on Metamorphosis is all session musicians. It's worth hearing this version to hear Charlie's distinct drumming style and the backing harmonies by Keith, Brian, and (I think) Mick. Second, the reason I didn't like this song in early 2004 is now the reason I find it enjoyable. It's dominated by the organ and marimba, sure, but I now think it's brilliant. This is the song as they'd intended to do it, and not only is it catchy, there's an extra verse here not found on the Metamorphosis version.

Though this song was sheared off the US version of Aftermath, it did resurface on the US-only compilation Flowers, albeit in a slightly truncated form. (Flowers caught the US up on songs removed from the records, making it seem like a useless release now, right? Wrong - it has three songs not available anywhere else: "Ride On Baby," "Sittin' On A Fence," and their cover of "My Girl." All of which are impressive.)

10. It's Not Easy [8.5]
This song sort of grooves by, like an R&B tune from Memphis, with an organ and fuzz bass where the brass section on a Stax record might otherwise have been. I can scoff at the lyric "It's not easy, it's hard..." for being one of the dumbest lines ever, but are the lyrics to "Soul Man" pure philosophic bliss? No. But it sounds pretty good.

11. I Am Waiting [11]
Then comes this one, out of nowhere among Mick and Keith's self-penned (successful) attempts at Motown and Stax tunes.

The song is lonely, nervous, brooding on the verses, then angry and passionate on the bridges. For my money one of the most beautiful songs they've ever done, giving "Ruby Tuesday" and "Moonlight Mile" some heavy competition. A whiff of the sounds of the mysterious East can be found in Charlie's "thump-thump" at the beginning of each measure, before going into his gentlest swing beat on the bridges. They clearly heard Rubber Soul, taking that English approach to folk and giving it a mood, lyric, and feel all their own, with only some residue of Beatles or Dylan on the edges.

12. Take It Or Leave It [10]
I can picture Otis Redding singing this. It's a beautiful ballad and in a perfect world this would be just as venerated as the classics on the A-side of this record. Though they would have you believe otherwise, the organ, finger cymbals, and acoustic guitars on this song are indicative of a tender side to these guys.

Just listen to it. It speaks for itself. (And with that, I give you the shortest description I will ever write for a song earning a ten.)

13. Think [8.5]
The intro makes it sound like the rest of the song would be clumsy Kingston Trio-esque folk, but once it gets off the ground, we've got another R&B-inspired rocker. Another case where the fuzz guitar is subbing for the brass section we would hear if this had been a James Brown tune, although he did a song on his own called "Think" which is pretty damn good in its own right. Is the song anything special? No, though I am impressed that they could write something that sounds like it would have come out on Stax Records just a year before.

14. What To Do [9]
The Rolling Stones were a little slow on the ending-the-album-with-something-memorable bandwagon, but this isn't a terrible song. Just kind of an afterthought as an ending track. It seems like it could go on for another minute or so and make an even deeper impression - in contrast to side A ending with a song that could have lost about seven minutes and been decent - and I would say along with "Doncha Bother Me" it's their most unadorned vamp of R&B on the album. No fuzz guitars, no odd instrumentation, no swirling Highway 61 Revisited organ part, but it shuffles and bounces along like no other. Too short.

Subtotal: 90.0% A-

Replayability Factor: 3
In this day and age, we can merely press a button and skip over the 11-minute cure for insomnia that graces the slot of track 6 on the CD. I'm going so far as to let it slide that there is a pretty bad song on this record. Otherwise, this is a great, solid collection of all-original songs by The Rolling Stones. Their dependency on blues and soul covers has been overcome by this point. Their dependency on other things was just starting.

Consistency Factor: 2.5
Is this the first Stones album you should run out and buy? I don't really know...it's sort of in this weird turf of being both essential and nondescript that it straddles being a 3 and a 2. On the one hand, I don't think this album holds up as well as Between The Buttons, which I consider their best. But it took Aftermath for Between The Buttons to exist. Never mind they've had a long enough career that they've got quite a few worthy entry points, much like Zappa. As an intro to the Brian Jones-era Stones, I would suggest this one and/or Between The Buttons, but at the same time these are radical departures from the earlier records...so yeah. When in doubt, add a decimal point and a five.

External Factors: 2
"Going Home" aside, much respect is due to Mick and Keith for writing thirteen fantastic songs and making an album out of them. The experimentation with new sounds is not only admirable, but successful. And the fact that they could write their own blues or soul numbers (I'm serious, there are quite a few moments on side B of the record that they sound like a Motown act or someone on Stax or King Records) alongside their own brand of sardonic, boisterous rock and roll duly earns them the title of "artists" in my book.

Total: 97.5% A+

01. 19th Nervous Breakdown [9.5]
Aftermath was released in mid-April of 1966; this single preceded it by two and a half months. This song is great fun, in the same accusatory, insulting vein as "Mother's Little Helper" or "Stupid Girl," with plenty of noisy guitar and bass. That torrent of lyrics in each verse? Someone must have heard "Subterranean Homesick Blues," itself inspired by Chuck Berry's "Too Much Monkey Business." I wouldn't consider it as outstanding as "Get Off My Cloud" or the next single, it seems to get a little lost at points, but it's still a Hell of a romp.

02. As Tears Go By [2.5]
You should know by now I don't like making oblique comparisons between one musician and another. But this is The Rolling Stones' version of "Yesterday," and I'm saying it with a bit of contempt (for both songs, actually). They wrote it for Marianne Faithfull, whose own version is a tuneless wonder in and of itself, though she looks cute singing it:

Their own version doesn't fair much better. Sure, Mick is actually able to change to pitch of his voice to form notes, unlike the lady who would soon become his regular girlfriend...but it's awful. Drenched in the high fructose corn syrup of sappy string production - the exact sound The Beatles wanted George Martin to (successfully) avoid on "Yesterday" - this is not The Stones' proudest moment. Far from.

01. Paint It, Black [11]
Essential Stones. Moody, "I want it painted black" wouldn't sound to out of place coming from Nico (or Lou Reed, for that matter), and with just a peppering of the Eastern influences George Harrison had immersed himself in. The Stones might have been hip and cynical to most trends, quickly shaking off flower power with "Jumpin' Jack Flash," but they had to give pause for the droning beauty of the sitar. They were able to incorporate it here better than The Beatles did with "Norwegian Wood," as far as I'm concerned. Strong, powerful song in all respects. Oh, and Charlie Watts' tom-toms sound like they're heralding the Apocalypse itself...for the other side.

Note the comma in the official title. Keith said before someone at the record label did that, and he never figured out why. Also note that any other time I type it out, I neglect the comma. Most people forget it anyway and wouldn't even notice.

02. Long, Long While [3]
For the great, self-composed ventures into soul found on Aftermath, this one is a step backwards. It's drowsy and half-assed...a perfect b-side, in the sense that the flipside of a single is typically a song too crummy even for an album. They've done better, and one would have thought with the classic slice of Rolling Stones that is "Paint It Black" as the a-side that the song it's paired with would be just a little better than this.

01. Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow? [11]
I don't know how other fans feel about this song, but I think it's crazy...no, manic good fun. Lots of feedback, close-miked brass making it sound all the more claustrophobic and chaotic. I love this song.

02. Who's Driving Your Plane? [6.5]
One might think the song is musically a little incongruous, dated...but the vocals are given a good swathe of echo. Not a particularly strong song, at all, but it is well-produced.


Shelley said...

I really really really need to relisten to this album. I know I have listened to it before on my own, and I remember side A pretty well, but side B is lost on me.

Maybe some of those singles should have replaced Going Home (I remember thinking that this song was a bit too long....and by a 'bit,' I mean WAY).

Andrew said...

Damn you. Now I have to buy the UK version of Aftermath. My really awesome English teacher made me a copy of the US version. I realize now that I had a lot of awesome teachers, as the tech guy at the high school made me copies of Something Else, Arthur, Face To Face, Muswell Hillbillies, and Lola.

Great review. I'm glad I'm not the only one who likes Have You Seen Your Mother. I love the fadeout of that song. I could listen to that over and over.

I meant to write this on the A Quick One post, but have you heard that Pete wrote the riff for Substitute based on the riff to 19th Nervous Breakdown? I've also heard that substitute was also about Pete's band. Supposedly he felt like they were substitutes for The Stones.

I hate Going Home, and this is coming from a guy who listens to the jams every time I listen to All Things Must Pass and who listens to Revolution No. 9 every time I listen to the White Album. Hell, I even listen to the end of Sgt. Pepper to hear the Beatle gibberish.

Juan said...

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Nathan Lee said...

Great review. I just posted my own review of an alternate sequencing I did to include all the singles and B sides recorded (and tracks dumped on Flowers) at the Aftermath sessions. Check it out, would love to hear your thoughts.

PoIsOn_HeArT said...

"As tears go by" can't be Rolling Stones' "Yesterday", because the song was written a year before the latter was. And the Stones' version feature string arrangements done by Mike Leander. And this song was written but not with miss Faithfull on mind but because their manager was making them write songs themselves so they could earn more money. It was the manager's idea to give this song away to Faithfull. Anyway, neither are the best songs on their catalogues.

I liked your review very much (maybe because I'd written one very much in that style myself hehehe)