Record companies like cash cows. When their cash cows take longer to produce an album than in the past, the record companies begin looking around for a way to make money. And so the Flowers album was born.
As Mick Jagger and Keith Richards began writing most of the material for their albums, the time between the releases lengthened. In addition Keith, Brian, and Mick were having problems with the law due to various drug offenses and assorted girlfriends who began occupying more of their time.
Flowers was cobbled together by their American record label, London. It consisted of singles that had not appeared on an American album, tracks that were exclusive to English releases, plus a few unreleased songs that had been hanging around. All of these mismatched songs added up to an uneven album that was helped by a few very good parts.
The hit single “Have You Seen Your Mother Baby Standing In The Shadows” is an essential Stones rocker. “Mother’s Little Helper” finally made its debut on an American Stones album after reaching the top ten as the A side of the “Lady Jane” release. This less than positive ode to housewives was a good companion to the “Mothers” single.
“Ruby Tuesday,” “Let’s Spend The Night Together,” and “Lady Jane” were recycled quickly and while they are all excellent songs, they had been released in the past year both as album cuts and singles.
“Back Street Girl” from the English Between The Buttons” features a nice acoustic guitar sound set against an accordion of all things. The unreleased “Sittin’ On A Fence” from 1965 features a creative Richards-Jones acoustic guitar duet. The unreleased “My Girl” is terrible. I can only imagine what the Temptations thought when they heard this Rollings Stones interpretation of their song.
While The Rolling Stones had little input into the making of Flowers, years later Charlie Watts stated Mick Jagger left the leaves off of the flower stem supporting Brian Jones face on the album jacket on purpose. Brian was becoming less dependable in the studio and particularly on the road and Jagger and Richards continued to become closer.
Flowers was a hit and rose to number three on the American charts. The record company ended up very happy. While at the time it may have been interesting in places, today it is unessential. Flowers is only for Rolling Stones fans who want everything.