Between The Buttons was released in January 1967 and continued the Rolling Stones transition from rhythm & blues group to rock & roll group extraordinaire.
Between The Buttons contained very few Rolling Stones signature songs but showed a new-found confidence. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote all the songs for the second album in a row showing not only that they had matured as songwriters but proving they had reached the point where they could create an album on their own terms.
Brian Jones increasing drug addiction and abusive relationship with girlfriend Anita Pallenberg allowed him less time in the studio. While he would continue to add his various creative instrumental sounds to the studio tracks his original input was becoming minimal. This would enable Keith Richards to flourish on the guitar. His guitar playing on such songs as “Convicted,” “All Sold Out,” “My Obsession” and “Miss Amanda Jones” is universally excellent.
The great single release “Let’s Spend The Night Together/Ruby Tuesday” forms the foundation for Between The Buttons. The overtly sexual lyrics and rhythms of “Let’s Spend The Night Together” were too much for American radio so disc jockeys turned the record over and played “Ruby Tuesday” which became a number one hit song. “Ruby Tuesday” features one of the great Mick Jagger vocals. Also Brian Jones intertwines his recorder or possibly flute throughout the song giving it a wonderful counterpoint.
In many ways it was Marianne Faithful who would drive the content of many of the songs. She and Mick Jagger were having a secret affair when the album was being put together and Mick Jagger’s creative juices could not escape this fact. “Who’s Been Sleeping Here,” “Complicated” and “Something Happened To Me Yesterday” can be considered the Marianne Faithful trilogy. “Who’s Been Sleeping Here” shows Jagger’s insecurities concerning Faithful’s loyalties. “Complicated” probably summarizes the Marianne Faithful-Mick Jagger relationship.
“Connection” would have disappeared into the Rolling Stones catalogue except for the fact it featured the first Keith Richards lead vocal.
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were not satisfied with Between The Buttons. Jagger said publicly that the Stones fiddled with the album too much. They recorded the album on a four-track system and began overdubbing many of the instruments which changed the original concept of some of the songs.
Between The Buttons was a commercial success but was lost amidst such releases as Blonde On Blonde by Bob Dylan, Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys and Revolver by The Beatles. The Stones would respond to those classic albums as their best work was ahead of them.