On 20 January 1967, Decca Records unleashed The Stones new album, their first since April 1966’s Aftermath. Between the Buttons became the band’s fifth UK studio album and when it came out three weeks later in America it was their seventh studio recording. In America, ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’ and ‘Ruby Tuesday’ replaced two of the twelve tracks on the UK release, making it an altogether stronger album. It remains one of the Stones’ less well known albums, a pity as it contains some strong songs; it divided opinion at the time amongst critics and it still does.
Listen to Between The Buttons right now.
The UK album included no hit singles and it was one that was part recorded with Dave Hassinger at RCA Studios in Hollywood – the last to be recorded in what had been the band’s ‘hit factory’ – and Glyn Johns at the newly opened Olympic Studios in Barnes; some of the tracks were started in America and finished in London. The Hollywood sessions took place between 3 and 11 August, with the Olympic sessions following on in November 1966. Besides the five band members, Ian Stewart plays piano and organ and Nicky Hopkins plays piano, as does Jack Nitzsche.
Recording technology was by now allowing for greater experimentation and although every track is credited to Mick and Keith there are certainly very different styles of music and song writing to be heard on this album – ‘Yesterday’s Papers’ has the distinction of being the first song to be written solely by Mick and features Jack Nitzsche on harpsichord. ‘Connection’ was played live at the London Palladium the week after the album came out and was featured in ‘Shine a Light’ in 2008. On ‘Something Happened To Me Yesterday’ Brian Jones plays saxophone, trombone and clarinet.
Billboard reviewing the album in February 1967 said, “Every LP by the Stones has been a hot chart item, and this latest collection will be no exception. Their hard-driving beat is evident throughout, and their singles hits ‘Ruby Tuesday’ and ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’ are included adding immediate sales appeal. ‘Miss Amanda Jones’ and ‘Cool, Calm & Collected’ are outstanding in this winning package.”
The cover features a photograph taken by Gered Mankowitz in mid-November 1966, following an all-night session at Olympic when the band went to Primrose Hill, in north London, just after dawn. There are also cartoons and drawings by Charlie that are used on the album artwork.
“Andrew told me to do the drawings for the LP and he told me the title was ‘between the buttons’ [meaning it was undecided]. I thought he meant the title was ‘Between the Buttons’, so it stayed.” – Charlie, Melody Maker 4 February 1967
In the UK it made No.3, which started something of a trend as the band’s next two albums made the same position; in America it reached one place higher.
Between The Buttons can be bought here.