The Rolling Stones

The Last Time

Song Review by

"The Last Time" was the first original Rolling Stones composition to become a big international hit single; indeed, it was the first Rolling Stones composition to even be used as an A-side in their native Britain. Its success no doubt gave the group confidence that they could compete and endure at the top level of rock at a time when it was starting to become expected that top groups would write their own material. It was also an important step forward for the band in that while it was clearly influenced by the roots blues and soul music that formed most of their early repertoire, it was also a convincing reformulation of those influences into a rock format that did not sound unduly derivative. "The Last Time" was built around a hypnotic, repetitive guitar riff; it and the sung melody were actually close in construction to country music. Before the verses became too repetitive, they were interrupted by a catchy chorus that was the most pop-oriented aspect of the tune. The lyrics, and Mick Jagger's vocals, adopt a stance more adolescent than those in many of the blues songs they covered, while projecting a sullen menace. The crashing, ringing guitar solo epitomizes the ragged-but-right ethos that the Stones would tap into over the course of their entire career. "The Last Time" did have some clear antecedents in black American music, in particular the 1964 James Brown single "Maybe the Last Time," which was itself based on ideas found in a gospel song that had been recorded by the Staple Singers. Some have thus accused the Stones of literally stealing from their black heroes, but "The Last Time" is clearly different from and more rock-oriented than the tracks recorded by James Brown and the Staple Singers, although there are some similarities in approach and the use of the title lyric. It's an easy call as to what's the most noteworthy cover of "The Last Time." In mid-1967, when Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were briefly sent to jail on trumped-up drug charges, the Who rushed into the studio to record a couple of Jagger/Richards covers as a show of solidarity. "The Last Time" and "Under My Thumb" were quickly issued as a Who single in the U.K. (though not in the U.S.), and the Who's version of "The Last Time" is actually quite respectable on its own merits, adding an appropriate more power chord-based feel with a buzzing guitar solo. The Who also introduced a key change leading into the very last verse -- a feature not found in the Stones' version, and also very characteristic of the Who's arrangements of the period, which often changed into a higher key for the last part of a song.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1964 ABKCO Records 3:15
Out of Our Heads 1965 ABKCO Records 3:42
No Image 1965 ABKCO Records 3:08
Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass) 1966 ABKCO Records 3:42
More Hot Rocks (Big Hits and Fazed Cookies) 1972 ABKCO Records 3:38
Rolled Gold: The Very Best of the Rolling Stones 1975 Universal Distribution
No Image 1977 Arcade Music
Digital Dreams [Video] 1985 Classic Pictures
The Complete Singles Collection: The London Years 1989 ABKCO Records 3:41
Forty Licks 2002 ABKCO Records 3:42
Remastered Series 2004 ABKCO Records 3:42
Singles 1963-1965 2004 ABKCO Records 3:42
The Rolling Stones 1964-1969 [Vinyl Box Set] 2010 ABKCO Records / Universal Distribution 3:42
Charlie Is My Darling: Ireland 1965 2012 ABKCO Records 3:19
GRRR! 2012 ABKCO Records 3:41
The Rolling Stones in Mono 2016 ABKCO Records 3:42