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The Rolling Stones – Aftermath (1966)

January 18, 2018


Superb 2017 Artist of the Week Series logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming


[Album 590/1001]

“In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

Why were the Beatles so successful?

In Gladwell’s book, an argument is made that it was the thousands of hours spent playing marathon gigs in Hamburg that helped The Beatles develop their world-class talent.

But this post is about the other group in the ___ OR ____ debate, The Rolling Stones.220px-RSAftermathUK

What made The Stones successful?

I suppose one could make valid arguments about songwriting, talent, showmanship, longevity…but those would all be too logical.

As an alternative theory, I believe Gladwell’s time-frame of 10,000 hours helps explain some of the varying quality of their musical output.

However, with The Stones, instead of requiring 10,000 hours of Practice, they were at their best when they demonstrated at least 10,000 hours of Patience.




It’s not a new observation to suggest The Stones would often follow the example set by The Beatles (Rob Sheffield’s ‘Dreaming The Beatles’ has a particularly brilliant/eloquent chapter on the subject); do as the Beatles did, but with more swagger, and depending on whom you ask, more skill.

Even the most ardent Stones fan will likely concede this release pattern, while  vehemently (and likely, correctly) denying any direct musical copycat tendencies.

So if there was an inevitable time delay between a certain type of Beatles release & the response from The Stones, what was the optimal delay?

We’ll look at 3 Stones response scenarios:

  1. Waiting less than 10,000 hours
  2. Waiting approximately 10,000 hours
  3. Waiting well beyond the requisite 10,000 hours


And *spoiler alert* the longer the wait, the better the record!










Verbalize the Positive

Cheers to the world wide web for having free Date & Hour calculators!

From → 1960s

  1. What are the reasons for the Aftermath – Hard Day’s Night parallel? When they both started writing full albums of originals?

    • That’s it exactly, the first album for each with 100% original tunes.
      And for a first try at all originals, both quite good!

  2. Given the comparison After-Math buries Hard Days Night in attitude and in street smarts but The Beatles were the ‘tougher’ proposition as people. I don’t know what point I’m making really. But aftermath has some darkness

    • I tend to like when there’s some musical darkness mixed with lighter lyrics (and vice versa).
      And there’s some terrific instrumentation on Aftermath too – some really strong tracks!

  3. Interesting! I’ve read Gladwell’s book and I see your points. I will say that much is made in every book or documentary about the early Stones of just how much they sat around playing guitars, running records over and over again until they figured out exactly how to play this or that song, riff, etc. I dunno if it was 10,000 hours’-worth or not, but there it is anyway.

    I won’t get drawn into the Beatles v. Stones debate because I know who I would chose (and have done since I was a teen), but I acknowledge the appeal and creativity of the other band so perhaps the debate between the two is really moot, at this point. It’s like hockey fans saying who’s better, Crosby or Ovechkin? Or soccer (football) fans saying who’s better, Ronaldo or Messi? I say who cares? We’re just fortunate to be alive to witness what both have done, and that should be enough. And yet also, I still choose one band over the other because of ingrained lifelong reflex reaction, by now. Natch.

    Aftermath is simply an excellent record. I can happily go back to it at any time and be just as interested in it and thrilled by it as I was on my first few listens. Glad this one was on the list, honestly. It deserves it!

    • Yes – the Answer (to all those examples), both!
      I quite liked the instrumentation on this one, the harpsichord on Lady Jane, the marimba on Under my Thumb, even Sitar (on the US version with Paint it Black), great stuff!

  4. Everyone knows they all followed the Kinks….

    In fact they may still be trying to catch up.

    What is the time delay between Beach Boys to Beatles releases?

    • Well said Neil – In the 90s, when people would argue the merits of Blur vs. Oasis, I’d argue it was Pulp (the Kinks of the trio) that was the one to watch!
      I’d be keen to see the Beach Boys/Beatles comparison – I suppose if Brian Wilson didn’t end up releasing Smile until the early 2000s, he waited beyond the 10,000 hours to officially reply to Sgt. Pepper!

  5. My mind (whats left of it) is officially blown!

  6. Well done Geoff! You’ve managed to identify the ideal gestation period for classic albums. Do you ever contemplate that The Beatles have a greater critical acclaim because they split? Happy New Year!

    • My thanks!
      I think there’s merit to that argument (many would say the same too about the limited criticism of the late John Lennon vs. major criticism of the still living Paul McCartney)
      I suppose there’s something to be said for going out on top – but when I read Keith’s book and he argued, they’re enjoying playing why would they stop, I can’t argue with that either!

  7. You went all out here, Geoff! Always liked The Stones more than that other lot – they are 10,000 hours and 10,000 miles better, if you ask me. Anyhoo, this album gets two thumbs up from me. A really pretty incredible set of songs… Keef and Mick really were peerless.

  8. It’s okay … I still think the Stones were a much better singles band than an album band. My theory is that they always worked better in bursts to bang out a 7″ than they ever did as a record, right up until ’68.

  9. The interesting thing about the Beatles/Stones debate (not that I care; I prefer the Beatles but appreciate some of the Stones’ stuff) is that the Beatles were portrayed as the nice boys while the Stones were the “lock up your daughters” rowdies. But actually the Beatles were true working-class heroes (there’s a song title there somewhere) while the Stones were middle-to-upper-middle-class well educated grammar-school chaps.

  10. The White Album as career peak? Give me a break. It has some good stuff on it, yes, but also some filler. It is really a collection of songs by four (yes!) writers, not really a group album at all. Probably could have made a good (but not the best) single album. Their peak? I would say Revolver or Rubber Soul, though Sergeant Pepper isn’t bad.

    • Ringo got a songwriting credit in there too, yes!
      Phillip, the trouble with the white album is that it’s my absolutely favourite album, by any artist. Paradoxically, its flaws actually enhance the album for me, I adore that it’s a sprawling mess!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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