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Book Review: The Rolling Stones Sheet Music Anthology by Alfred Music Publishing

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Alfred Music Publishing performs a service for every keyboard player and pop music lover witha series of anthologies that usually contain about 20 songs in easy but authentic-sounding arrangements for playing for one’s friends or to entertain oneself. The Rolling Stones Sheet Music Anthology is no exception.

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have written some of the best and most popular songs of the rock ‘n’ roll era, and this book contains 19 of these, plus a classic from their early blues-rock days that they did not write: “It’s All Over Now.”

The Jagger-Richards compositions chosen for this anthology show an amazing range of styles and are a wonderful opportunity to reflect and remember The Stones at various points in their creative lives.

Of course, everyone knows the rockers like “Brown Sugar,” “Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown,” “Gimme Shelter,” “Let It Bleed,” and “Under My Thumb,” which showcase Mick’s strutting, sexy, cocksure style on stage and which are a lot of fun to play.

But there’s also the country-rock “Honky Tonk Women” and the soulful ballad, “Wild Horses.” There’s the once-controversial pop song, “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” and even a song that I never heard for some reason until now, “Monkey Man.”

There’s social commentary, like “Paint It Black,” forever associated in the minds of my generation with the Vietnam War, “Street-Fighting Man,” and “Mother’s Little Helper.”

Some of these songs are strongly philosophical, like “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” which became a strong life statement for many of my generation: “You can’t always get what you want/ but if you try sometimes/you just mind find/ you get what you need.” Or “Sympathy for the Devil,” once again controversial in its day and yet inviting real thought about the nature of Lucifer and his role.

But for me the most delightful part of the anthology was the often-overlooked and very beautiful songs that Jagger and Richards wrote and the Stones recorded: really gorgeous numbers like “Lady Jane,” “As Tears Go By,” “Ruby Tuesday,” and “She’s a Rainbow.” These songs that reflect a softer side of the Stones are perfect for keyboard and a real pleasure to play.

All of the songs in this book were arranged by Bruce Nelson, who has done a great job of providing playability and still making the songs sound the way fans remember them.

Altogether, this is an excellent sheet music anthology that Stones fans will enjoy playing again and again.

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About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, and Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.