The Rolling Stones’ fifth US album, December’s Children (And Everybody’s), was released on December 4, 1965, in time for the Christmas market and to capitalize on a wave of popularity for UK bands while the British Invasion was in full swing. The album, which was described by singer Mick Jagger as “a collection of songs,” comprised 12 tracks taken from previously released records, EP-only singles, and live recordings. There were also three new compositions.
Packed with unexpected treasures
The third Stones album released in America that year (following The Rolling Stones, Now! and Out Of Our Heads) was given its title by the Stones’ then manager, Andrew Loog Oldham – according to the band, it was his idea of a hip, Beat poetry-style name. The album also featured a striking cover photograph of the young musicians taken by Gered Mankowitz.
Though there is no overarching theme to December’s Children (And Everybody’s), it is packed with unexpected treasures, including a powerful version of “Get Off Of My Cloud” – written by Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards – and a searing cover of Sonny Bono’s “She Said Yeah,” which had previously appeared on the UK pressing of Out Of Our Heads.
The orchestral-pop balladry of “As Tears Go By,” a composition credited to Jagger/Richards/Oldham, owed a lot to the arrangements of Mike Leander, who also worked with The Beatles. “As Tears Go By,” which was later released as the B-side to “19th Nervous Breakdown,” was one of Jagger and Richards’ earliest collaborations. It was originally recorded by Marianne Faithfull, who took the song to No. 9 on the UK charts in late 1964 and, in doing so, launched her career.
Another original was “Blue Turns To Grey,” a song written by Jagger and Richards but which had first been recorded by Dick And Dee Dee And The Mighty Avengers. After the Stones’ version was released in America, “Blue Turns To Grey” was recorded by Cliff Richard, who took the song to No. 15 in the UK charts.
Propelled to success
Two separate live recordings, which had originally appeared on the Stones’ Got LIVE If You Want It! EP, close out Sides One and Two of the album: a version of Bobby Troupe’s “Route 66” and Hank Snow’s country music classic “I’m Moving On,” respectively. The Stones had performed the songs during their first British tour of 1965, with the recordings coming from Liverpool’s Empire Theatre and Manchester’s Palace Theatre in March that year.
One of the three December’s Children… songs that hadn’t already appeared elsewhere reflected the band’s love of the blues: a cover of “Look What You’ve Done,” written by their hero Muddy Waters. The fluent harmonica playing on the track was courtesy of Brian Jones, who also features on electric guitar, acoustic guitar, organ, and electric piano throughout the album’s 12 tracks. Bill Wyman (bass), Charlie Watts (drums), and Ian Stewart (piano) also play on the record.
December’s Children (And Everybody’s), parts of which were recorded at Chess Studios in Chicago and Decca Studios in London, also features covers of Chuck Berry’s “Talkin’ About You,” and Arthur Alexander’s rhythm’n’blues song “You Better Move On.”
At the time the album was released, the Stones’ single “Get Off Of My Cloud” was already in the charts and so pressings of the album had a sticker on the cover, with red letters saying: “Includes THE ROLLING STONES’ smash hit GET OFF OF MY CLOUD.” The success of that single – and the subsequent release of “As Tears Go By” – helped propel December’s Children (And Everybody’s) to success, hitting No.4 on the Billboard charts.