A 45 turns 45.
ABC News among others, duly took note this past week that the Rolling Stones' recording of "Satisfaction" is now 45 years old, or nearly old enough to retire with a full pension in some parts of Europe. In observance of the occasion, here are five performances of the song for your comparing and contrasting pleasure.
1. The Rolling Stones, Shindig, September 1965
Naturally, we begin with the Thing Itself, seen here in a performance in which Mick Jagger has borrowed a checked shirt from Dobie Gillis and Brian Jones is seemingly contemplating a career as a French mime. Charlie Watts is, as ever, Charlie Watts. This would not be my clip of first choice, but it was the best I could do. Here, sadly non-embeddable, you can see a lovely, superior clip, In Color, from the Ed Sullivan Show. That one appeals to me particularly because it includes one of Ed's introductions offering up a British Invasion band "for all of the youngsters in the country and Canada".
2. Otis Redding. Stax-Volt European tour 1966
American rhythm and blues was as mother's milk to the Stones, and R&B greats such as Redding were fully prepared to return the favor. The audience in this sequence demonstrates the pleasures to be derived from the lost art of just standing there and twitching. Aretha Franklin's version of the song from roughly the same period is also good, but not as good.
3. Jonathan King [as Bubblerock], 1974
There's nothing like compiling a blog post for the discovery of gaps in one's knowledge. Until I turned up this performance, I can't say as I had ever heard of Jonathan King. And yet, if his Wikipedia entry is to be believed, he is a fascinating and ambiguous figure whose fingerprints are all over the last 50 years of UK popular music. He seems also to have had his fingerprints on certain underage boys in the 1980s, for which he served a term in penitentiary, protesting his innocence throughout, in the early part of the last decade. The "VilePervert" who posted this to YouTube is King himself, who makes the claim that Mick Jagger considers this the best version of the song after his own.
4. Devo, 1978
If Mick Jagger actually believes that, then Mick Jagger is mistaken. The best version of "Satisfaction" after his own, and arguably the best version of them all, is Devo's. This is the video released in conjunction with the band's major label debut, produced by Brian Eno, but "Satisfaction" had been a staple of the Devo repertoire throughout their struggling Avant Oddballs from Akron period. As the band demonstrates, the wearing of eye protection is prudent.
5. Bjork and PJ Harvey, Brit Awards, 1994
A slowburning version restoring to the song its full measure of fundamental toughness. Either of these women is entirely capable of using Lady Gaga or any of her contemporaries as the chemical sweetener of choice in a cup of tea before breakfast without so much as blinking.