One of the hardest instruments to analyze in this debate is the drumming of Charlie Watts. Although his stage presence is most reminiscent of a rhythm-keeping catatonic, Watts will forever be named alongside drummers like Keith Moon, John “Bonzo” Bonham and Ringo Starr as one of the most effective drummers in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. Watts makes his contribution on the B-side known much earlier on, injecting some kick-drum into the piano intro, whereas on the studio-cut, Watts’ drums don’t make a peep until after the first verse. However, on the studio cut, their early absence is made up for by the single best fill on the album. Again, as Jagger wails, “gimmie little drink from your loving cup,” Watts comes in with a tom-tom heavy fill that perfectly accompanies the rhythm and energy of Jagger’s chorus. Between A+ drum fills, Watts goes back into a more simplistic drum line, one that makes the power of his verse-into-chorus drum fills its extra power.
However, although his trademark studio-version drum fill is missing from the B-side, the second half of the latter includes some heavy-hitting drum rolls that give his the originals verse-to-chorus fill a real run for its money. Untrained ears might even think Watts was using a double kick drum on the B-side
The horn section on the studio cut is entirely absent from the B-side, something that may be missed by some, but could also be argued to draw greater attention to the five-piece itself.
The fact that the B-side is unmastered can easily be seen as a plus, as it adds to the humid grit that Exile is known for. The big question left to be asked is which version has the superior guitar licks? Although the studio cut is refined, featuring both acoustic and electric guitars, the B-side offers some new leads that really add something to the final product. The lead guitar bends a few notes on cue as Jagger first comes in with lyrics, and throughout the whole b-side, the lead guitar lines play a role of a parallel vocalist, articulating notes that flow alongside the vocal track like a duet.
On a first listen, the slower tempo and less aggressive vocals can sour longtime Exile fans, but with every listen, the Loving Cup B-side showcases more and more unique attributes that listeners are likely to miss the first time around. Needless to say, the B-side is a tune that is guaranteed to build on any fan of the studio cut. Which track has the better vocals? And which take has the superior performance from Watts? Both of these questions have no clear answer and are likely to be debated endlessly. What is not debatable is that regardless of your preference between the two versions, the recent introduction of Loving Cup’s B-side undeniably adds to the conversation. Whether you give it a thumbs up, or down, this latest version of Loving Cup provides another round of ammunition for Stones’ fans that’ve spent the last few decades dissecting every note performed on Exile On Main Street.
Which track do you like better? Place your vote…