The 40th Anniversary expanded edition of the Rolling Stones classic Tattoo You was released this month featuring one of their best kept secrets, an amazing remake of ‘Drift Away’.
I never really cared for this song that much…until now. Written by songwriter Mentor Williams in 1972, ‘Drift Away’ is essentially a love song to rock ‘n roll, made famous by soul singer Dobie Gray in 1973 and covered by everyone from Roy Orbison to Bruce Springsteen. The Stones recorded their version during the sessions for It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (1974), but omitted it from the finished album and replaced with ‘Ain’t Too Proud to Beg’. It’s the Stones getting back to their blues-driven brand of rock ‘n roll and the recording is warm and inviting, packing an emotional punch, with Mick’s camp-country drawl accompanied by a gritty Keith harmony over airy guitars and a rhythm section softly working the pocket. It’s tossed-off but sounds effortless, not careless.
Historic for Stones fans, ‘Drift Away’ finally sees the light of day on this excellent new set which includes a newly remastered and expanded reissue of the original 11-track album, nine extra songs as part of a Lost & Found: Rarities disc (essentially expanding on the reworked left-overs project that was Tattoo You), and a scintillating 26-song live show from the world-conquering supporting tour, finding the Stones firing on more cylinders most bands could only dream of.
It is still possible to be surprised by the Greatest Rock’n’Roll Band in the World as they nail this cover, and while some of the Lost & Found: Rarities tracks appear to feature some contemporaneous and modern instrumental and vocal overdubs, ‘Drift Away’ is one of the few that appears in its original loose and improvisatory glory.
Recorded: Musicland Studios, Munich, Germany, Nov. 13-24 1973.
Mick Jagger on Vocals, Keith Richards on Guitar and Backing Vocals, Nicky Hopkins on Piano, Mick Taylor on Slide Guitar, Bill Wyman on Bass and Charlie Watts on Drums.