Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Rolling Stones - Could You Walk On The Water?

The Rolling Stones – Could You Walk On The Water?
(soniclovenoize reconstruction)

Side A:
1.  19th Nervous Breakdown
2.  Sad Day
3.  Take It Or Leave It
4.  Think
5.  Mother’s Little Helper

Side B:
6.  Goin’ Home
7.  Sittin’ On A Fence
8.  Doncha Bother me
9.  Ride On, Baby
10.  Looking Tired

Happy Easter!  In honor of this bunny-hopping holiday, I give you a reconstruction I’ve actually been sitting on for nearly three years now.  This is a reconstruction of the unreleased 1966 Rolling Stones album Could You Walk On The Water.  After Decca Records refused to release such a blasphemous album title, the band restructured the album into their seminal Aftermath album.  This reconstruction gathers all of the best sounding masters of the source material and is presented all in mono, as it was meant to be heard. 

By 1965, The Rolling Stones had become one of the biggest rock bands in the world, proving their value with innovative British interpretations of American R&B music.  In an attempt to keep up with their contemporaries—self-contained bands that wrote their own songs—manager Andrew Loog Oldham pushed the band to compose their own material.  Specifically focusing on creating a song partnership between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the tactic proved successful as Jagger/Richards-penned singles “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, “Get Off Of My Cloud” and “As Tears Go By” were all major hits.  But what of their albums?  Up until then, the Rolling Stones’ albums had been a mixed bag of rock and blues standards with only a sprinkling of their own material.  Possibly taking a cue from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones set out to record an album by the end of the year consisting of all original material. 

While on their fall North American tour in 1965, the band filed into Hollywood’s RCA Studios in December to record the new material they had been composing.  At least nine songs were finished during these fruitful sessions, including: “Doncha Bother Me”, “Goin’ Home”, “Mother’s Little Helper”, “19th Nervous Breakdown”, “Ride On Baby”, “Sad Day”, “Sittin’ On A Fence”, “Take It Or Leave It” and “Think”.  Not only was the band impressed they were able to record nearly a full album of solid, original compositions in a week, but the songs themselves featured impressive exotic adornments by guitarist Brian Jones.  Growing bored of simply playing guitar, Jones literally picked up a number of unusual instruments to contribute, such as an autoharp, harpsichord and koto, giving the songs a colorful, proto-psychedelic flavor.  Finally "Goin Home" was noteworthy as one of the longest continuous performances in recorded rock music thus far, spanning over 11 minutes!  Two tracks from the sessions were selected as a single to be released in February, “19th Nervous Breakdown” b/w “Sad Day”.

Marveling at the results of the RCA sessions, Oldham and the band vied to rush-release all nine finished songs plus a tenth track (the quaint Out Of Our Heads outtake “Looking Tired”, recorded three months prior) in March as Could You Walk On The Water.  Featuring entirely original compositions—as well as the current hit “19th Nervous Breakdown”—the album was supposed to feature cover art from a California reservoir photo shoot and a deluxe gatefold with pictures taken from their recent American tour.  Unfortunately, Decca Records balked at the title, afraid that the name of this decidingly American album would offend the American religious, allegedly stating, “We would not issue it with that title at any price!”  As Oldham negotiated the release of the album, The Rolling Stones continued to tour relentlessly while continuing to compose new material.  As the proposed album release date of March 10th began to close in, it was obvious Could You Walk On The Water would not rise above its own title; with Oldham finally giving in to Decca, it was decided the compilation Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass) would be released in its place in the United States and The Stones reevaluated the shelved album. 

Fortunately, there was a silver lining in the failure of Could You Walk On The Water to launch, as the day before its scheduled release date the band returned to RCA Studios to cut another batch of original material.  This second set was more impressive than the first, which included: “Flight 505”, “High and Dry”, “I Am Waiting”, “If You Let Me”, “It’s Not Easy”, “Lady Jane”, “Long Long While”, “Out Of Time”, “Paint It Black”, “Stupid Girl”, “Under My Thumb” and  “What To Do”.  Brian Jones again adorned The Stones' brand of rock with such exotic instruments as a dulcimer, marimba and a sitar.  Now with 21 new songs in total, The Stones combined the best of the December 1965 and March 1966 sessions into one 14-track album.  With “Paint It Black” the lead single in the US market and “Mother’s Little Helper” the lead single in the UK market (both backed with “Lady Jane”), the album—now titled Aftermath—was released in April to critical and commercial acclaim, marking The Rolling Stones’ first masterpiece.  Aftermath not only became one of the greatest albums from the British Invasion era, but stood head-to-head against other legendary rock albums of the time, including Highway 61 Revisited, Rubber Soul and Pet Sounds.  But is it possible to resurrect Could You Walk On The Water, the album that was 'passover' by both Decca and ultimately The Stones themselves?

Luckily the tracklist of Could You Walk On The Water has been published and nearly all of the tracks have been released, allowing many listeners to reconstruct the album.  The difference here is that we will exclusively be using the original mono masters for all songs, as the stereo mixes of the material leave much to be desired, featuring an antiquated soundstage.  Side A opens with “19th Nervous Breakdown” taken from Singles 1965-1967, since The Rolling Stones in Mono boxset used an inferior master with excessive noise floor in-between vocal lines.  Following is “Sad Day”, taken from the Stray Cats discs of the In Mono box set.  “Take It Or Leave It”, “Think” and “Mother’s Little Helper” close out Side A, all taken from the Aftermath disc of In Mono. 

Side B opens with the full-length mix of “Goin Home” from Aftermath.  Although some sources claim there would have been an edited version of the track on the actual Could You Walk On The Water album, I chose to include the full 11-minute version, making Side B about 6 minutes longer than Side A.  While that may seem in err, remember that Side B of the US version of Aftermath was also 6 minutes longer than its side A!  Next is “Sittin’ On a Fence” taken from the Flowers disc of the In Mono box, followed by “Doncha Bother Me” from Aftermath.  “Ride On, Baby” again from Flowers follows, with the album concluding with the as-yet-unreleased “Looking Tired” taken from the bootleg More Stoned Than You’ll Ever Be but collapsed to mono and EQd to match the rest of the album. 

Sources used:
More Stoned Than You'll Ever Be (bootleg CD, Scorpio Records)
The Rolling Stones in Mono (CD boxset, 2016 ABKO Records)
Singles 1965-1967 (CD 2004 ABKO Records)

 flac --> wav --> editing in Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
*md5, artwork and tracknotes included


  1. Thanks for this. Always loved the Stones stuff from around the time of "Out Of Our Heads"/"Aftermath"/"Between The Buttons". Fascinating detail of how all those songs came to be.

  2. Great work as always, just to split hairs a little re the stones singles in the US/UK it was `Paint It Black` b/w `Stupid Girl` in the US followed by `Mothers Little Helper` b/w `Lady Jane`. In the Uk it was `Paint It Black` b/w `Long Long While` followed by `Have You Seen Your Mother` b/w `Who`s Driving Your Plane`.

  3. Thanks. So I assume the second set of RCA sessions would have been the follow up?

    1. I think in reality, by the time the second RCA Session happened, they knew CYWOTW wasn't going to happen. So the session was always meant to enhance what they already have.

      But with that said, yeah, you can keep CYWOTW as an album and make the 12 songs from the March 1966 session it's own album.

  4. Very nice indeed. Thanks for taking the time.

  5. Great work as always, thank you for another what if!

  6. At the time, yes, Mick and Keith probably could,

  7. Thanks soniclovenoize, I always enjoy your projects... really looking forward to giving this one a listen. My favorite period of the Stones.

  8. Thanks! Again! And ... which are "the 12 songs from the March 1966 session"? Sounds like an album to me (and I might even have them)!

    1. Doh! Apologies for my stupidity. And thanks again.

  9. Thank you for another splendid re-creation.

  10. Thanks for this and your hard work. I look forward to listening to it.

  11. thank you very much. always considered this period the Stones creative zenith.

  12. I'd be curious to hear your interpretation of ABBA's "Opus 10." I just did one myself, and I'd be curious if your tracklist is different. :)

  13. Hey Sonic, would it be at all be feasible for the Beach Boys to release a double album (à la The White Album) after a successful April 1967 Smile release? Perhaps as a way for Brian to remain in control and at the same time give space to the rest of the guys?

    I'm thinking songs from "Wild Honey" and "Friends" mixed in with some of the tracks dropped off your 1967 SMiLE reconstruction, perhaps led by "Do It Again" and "Can't Wait Too Long" as singles.


  14. Very cool album, thanks for doing this. Would have been a good album, had it been released. But had it been, would the Stones have recorded enough new material to fill out what became Aftermath ? In retrospect, it's probably good that it wasn't released, as I humbly think Aftermath ( U.K. version of course ), was probably their best album. Thanks again for all your work; always look forward to your next album.

  15. Impressive. Best blog I've ever seen. Thanks for being.

  16. Thanks for this. I recreated this album a couple of years ago, but yours has better quality sound.

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  18. I'm always blown away by the amount of meticulous research you put into justifying your decisions for tracks to use. I'm learning a lot about the history of these songs!

  19. dear soniclovenoize, love yr page. great work you do. super fun and inneresting. quick question. Where the hell is Willard's Wormholes? I feel bereft.

  20. Love your reconstructions and this is no exception...
    Have seen a lot of recommendations\requests so here's mine. The Misunderstood were a great psych band whose primary output was spread across a few compilations (notably "Before The Dream Faded" and "The Lost Acetates", with earlier blues recordings and later works on "The Legendary Gold Star Album\Golden Glass"), I would love to hear someone try to turn these randomly scattered tracks into something more of a unified listening experience.

  21. I don't know if you have already been asked to do this but, could you do the album between Hunky Dory and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie?

    1. Are you referring to Arnold Corns? I think there are only six songs, which would make only an EP

    2. I'm not really sure, I heard of there being more songs recorded in that time frame (pre Ziggy) for a release after Hunky Dory. Hunky Dory is my favorite Bowie album and I was just hoping that there were more songs from that time.

    3. There are enough songs. I did it for myself some time ago:

      Side One:
      01 Hang On To Yourself
      02 How Lucky You Are (Miss Peculiar)
      03 Tired Of My Life
      04 Right On Mother
      05 Looking For A Friend
      06 Rupert The Riley

      Side Two:
      07 Shadowman
      08 Man In The Middle
      09 Moonage Daydream
      10 Lightning Frightening
      11 Song For Marc

      There's also a song called 'Something Happens', but it's only available in terrible sound quality.

    4. Do you have a sources log or something so I can look up the tracks?

    5. Have a look at these sites for some info:

      Then look for a bootleg called 'Freddi And The Dreamer - The Arnold Corns Sessions' or alternatively one called simply 'The Complete Arnold Corns Sessions'.

  22. Another great one, Sonic. Much appreciated.

  23. Thanks! I've nabbed a number of your recreations over the years and admire your knowledge of rock history and dedication to your task. So many alternative albums! And more to come I hope!

  24. Hello Sonic; This is another winner. I am a big fan of the Brian Jones era Stones. "Flowers" is my favorite Stones album, and so I can just add the songs from here that aren't on Flowers and it makes it all complete. Once again; like your other albums, on earbuds, it sounds like a store bought album (Just Free). Thanks Again!!