During the mid-'70s, the Rolling Stones remained massively popular, but their records suffered from Jagger's fascination with celebrity and Keith's worsening drug habit. By 1978, both punk and disco had swept the group off the front pages, and Some Girls was their fiery response to the younger generation. Opening with the disco-blues thump of "Miss You," Some Girls is a tough, focused, and exciting record, full of more hooks and energy than any Stones record since Exile on Main St. Even though the Stones make disco their own, they never quite take punk on their own ground. Instead, their rockers sound harder and nastier than they have in years. Using "Star Star" as a template, the Stones run through the seedy homosexual imagery of "When the Whip Comes Down," the bizarre, borderline-misogynistic vitriol of the title track, Keith's ultimate outlaw anthem, "Before They Make Me Run," and the decadent closer, "Shattered." In between, they deconstruct the Temptations' "(Just My) Imagination," unleash the devastatingly snide country parody "Far Away Eyes," and contribute "Beast of Burden," one of their very best ballads. Some Girls may not have the backstreet aggression of their '60s records or the majestic, drugged-out murk of their early-'70s work, but its brand of glitzy, decadent hard rock still makes it a definitive Stones album.
The joke goes like this: all the bonus material for Some Girls wound up on Emotional Rescue and Tattoo You, the two records that succeeded it, both heavily reliant on tracks started during the Some Girls sessions. Hardcore Stones collectors know that this isn’t entirely true -- “Claudine,” a nasty near-libelous three-chord boogie about Claudine Longet’s shooting of her boyfriend Spider Sabich, frequently circulated on bootlegs -- but it didn’t seem like there would be enough completed unheard material to fill out the 12-track bonus disc included in this 2011 Deluxe Edition. Turns out that assumption was wrong. Part excavated original outtakes, part recently completed in 2011 by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Don Was, this bonus disc plays like a complete, coherent companion to the original album, touching upon the same sleaze, down-and-dirty boogie, citified country, and blues as the original. What’s missing is the downtown disco that fueled “Miss You” but it’s not missed, partially because the Glimmer Twins and Was have gotten much better at blurring the lines between the past and present, so the whole record feels as of one piece.
Listen closely and there are occasionally some giveaway tics in Mick’s vocals that date them as a recent vintage, but there are no cuts that sound like latter-day Stones, the way “Following the River” did on the Exile on Main St. bonus disc, nor are there alternates or early versions of beloved songs. Without these, Some Girls' bonus disc feels like an actual album and it’s filled with terrific moments: the aforementioned “Claudine” and its filthy cousin “So Young,” Keith's mournful reading of Waylon Jennings’ “We Had It All” and a careening version of Hank Williams’ “You Win Again,” the blues “When You’re Gone” and “Keep Up Blues,” the straight-ahead rocker “I Love You Too Much” and its poppy counterpart “Do You Think I Really Care,” a raucous “Tallahassee Lassie,” all capped off by the ragged Mick at the piano throwaway “Petrol Blues.” Cagey as ever, the Stones hide which of these are full-fledged outtakes and which are recent refurbishments very well, but ultimately it doesn’t matter: this is a tremendous expansion of a classic album by every measure. [The Super Deluxe Edition contains a bonus DVD -- featuring music videos and a teaser of the simultaneously released Some Girls: Live in Texas '78 video -- a 7" single of “Miss You,” a hardcover book, and plenty of bonus material, including postcards and prints and a poster.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine