Take 5: Five Notable Tracks by Brian Jones

It’s often forgotten now, but guitarist Brian Jones was the founder of the Rolling Stones. Though he would be eclipsed by songwriters Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, in the earliest days it was Jones who guided the band’s direction. His facility on multiple instruments was a key part of what the band special. The troubled guitarist was eventually forced out of the band, and soon after was found dead in his swimming pool under circumstances that have never been fully clear (the official cause was noted as “death by misadventure”).

Brian Jones – who would have turned 81 on February 28 – embarked on a few interesting projects outside the normal scope of the Rolling Stones; here are five key track that illustrate his talents.

The Rolling Stones – “Rice Krispies Jingle” (1963)
The powerful and unique sound of the Rolling Stones would be captured in many songs, but the jingle for this television commercial promoting Kellogg’s popular breakfast single is one of the most surprising examples of those qualities. Brian Jones received co-composer credit on this brief track; it’s one of few songs to be credited to him.

Theme” from the soundtrack of Mord und Totschlag aka A Degree of Murder (1966)
In 1966 Jones composed and recorded original music for this West German film starring his girlfriend Anita Pallenberg. Jones played most of the instruments himself, but would be variously joined by drummer Kenney Jones (Small Faces), Jimmy Page (Yardbirds) and in-demand session keyboardist to the stars, Nicky Hopkins. The orchestra was conducted by Mike Leander, who would arrange The Beatles’ “She’s Leaving Home” around the same time. The soundtrack album has never received official release, but the audio circulates among collectors and online.

Jimi Hendrix – “All Along the Watchtower” (1968)
Guitarist Hendrix made Bob Dylan’s original song very much his own on his cover version; Even the song’s composer thought so. The Experience (Hendrix, bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell) were joined in the studio by guitarist Dave Mason of Traffic, and the Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones on the vibraslap percussion instrument; it’s one of the great recording’s most distinctive and memorable elements.

The Beatles – “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)” (1970)
Quite possibly the oddest entry in the Beatles’ catalog (though “What’s the New Mary Jane” could claim that title as well), this non-album track was recorded by the band in 1967, eventually appearing as the flip side of the group’s final single, “Let it Be.” The tune is a wacky series of musical set-pieces, with John and Paul showcasing their love of The Goon Show and other distinctly British comedies. Their pal Brian Jones stopped by during the session and gamely added a saxophone solo to the recording.

Take Me With You, Darling” from Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Jajouka (1971)
Long interested in exotic sounds beyond the music coming out of England and America, Jones fell in love with the traditional music of Morocco. In 1968, he used remote recording equipment to produce an album of the group’s music created to celebrate the annual week-long Pipes of Pan Festival. Jones completed work on the album shortly before his untimely death; the record was eventually released in 1971.