Sonny Rollins

‘Slave’ The Rolling Stones (first version with vocals, bootleg) recorded 1975/1980, feat. Sonny Rollins

‘Slave’ was eventually recorded for Tattoo You but this is the original 10 minute long version know as ‘Black And Blue Jam’ or ‘Vagina’, recorded in 1975 (between 22nd January - 9th February: Rotterdam, Holland, De Doelen, Mobile Record Unit) and 1980 (11th October - 12th November: Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris, France, Pathé-Marconi Studios).This long version was compiled of two cut up tapes from different sources creating the ultimate and finally complete version of ‘Slave'.

Below the video info. 

As one listener correctly noted, in this original raw version ‘(Jagger) wants to be your slave, on Tattoo You it’s DON'T want to be your slave.' Much speculation then ensues among the fans about the significance of this shift, making connections with his split from Bianca and the song, 'Black Limousine’.

The sessions included the long-term Stones collaborators who are so central to their sound: Billy Preston on keyboards and Ollie Brown on percussion.

And also the jazz god-figure, Sonny Rollins, providing yet another reason to venerate him. He also defines the mood, enhances the pure loveliness of ‘Waiting on a friend’ that appeared on Tattoo You (1981) - the record many critics believe was the last great Stones album. 

‘Mick Jagger sitting on the steps with Peter Tosh in front of the 'Physical Graffiti' building, just waiting on a friend’ (to quote another). 

Versions: 'You don't know what love is'/Saxophone Colossus Sonny Rollins (Prestige, 1956)

This is one of my favourite pieces of music (of.all.time) because of the stunning contrast between the ponderous sax and then the other key elements, the moment when the pianist, Tommy Flanagan comes in so quietly, with such gentleness and the percussion section provided by the masterly Max Roach.    

But there is another reason to love this piece of music, for the essential dynamic that is held within the performance of Sonny Rollins; as even though it is carried along by the deep, soulful inflections it often sounds as if, on occasion, he is having a conversation as he plays (as if he is offering asides, or commentary on the essential message). 

Certainly this performance by Miles Davis from his 1954 Walkin' release is special too, as you would expect, but it somehow lacks the intensity of the Rollins' version two years later.

Much the same could be said about Mal Waldron's version from his 1960 record, Left Alone - that while beautiful lacks the emotional rawness that can be felt in the less orderly take on the standard by Sonny Rollins. How then does Chet Baker compare? 

For me, it's only when Nina Simone offers her interpretation that we find some competition; her take, as to be expected, is beyond words and heart-breaking - pure and elemental.