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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 192
Tues. Aug 13, 2013

“(You Gotta Walk And) Don’t Look Back”
Mick Jagger & Peter Tosh

1978

“♫ We’re
gonna
leave
all our
troubles
behind
♫”

“Don’t Look Back” was initially a b-side to The Temptations 1965 single for “My Baby.” Originally composed by Smokey Robinson and Ronald White, this isn’t the first time a Rolling Stone has recorded a tribute to The Temptations. Jagger and Richards have always been fans of the Motown sound and specifically The Temptations. The Rolling Stones actually covered The Temptations “Ain’t To Proud To Beg” on 1974’s It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll and “Just My Imagination” from 1978’s Some Girls. The difference between those stellar covers and this 1978 version of “Don’t Look Back” was all in the arrangements. In Cyrus R.K. Patell’s 33 1/3 tome on The Rolling Stones’ Some Girls, Jagger described the band’s two Temptations covers as “an English rock & roll band tuning up on ‘Imagination,’ which has only two or three chords…really simple stuff.” Not quiet as simplistic was this Jamaican flavored duet with former Wailer member Peter Tosh.

A glorious reimagining of this Temptations b-side, at first reflects a glowing union between Trench town’s Peter Tosh and English Rolling Stones as Mick Jagger explained in Victor Bockris’ Keith Richards: The Biography, “He got us involved rather than vice versa. Basically, the Tosh band are rhythm guitar players and use the synthesizer lines to play lead and harmonies. So there we were all up in Woodstock, Tosh didn’t have a lead guitarist, Keith and Woody were available […] and familiar with the whole reggae thing so it turned out to be really good.” Because of these successful sessions, Tosh became one of the first exclusive singings to Rolling Stones Records.

Although, the original impression that this Temptations cover sounded like a harmonious collaboration between Mick and Peter was actually quiet deceiving. The union between Tosh and The Stones was a short lived one. The band, specifically Keef, had a falling out with Peter having to do with a misunderstanding by Tosh over staying his welcome at Richards’ Kingston home. Whatever the reasons, at least, Jagger famously added his duet vocal to “Don’t Look Back” and Richards played his trademark guitar riffs on two tracks on 1978’s Bush Doctor.

The musical harmony between The Stones and Tosh might have been temporary but the results are immortalized in this uplifting island sound of “Don’t Look Back.” Tosh’s one album on the Rolling Stones Record label will always be remembered for having Mick’s duet on this Temptations cover. “(You Gotta Walk And) Don’t Look Back” is a personal anthem of not turning around and pondering the mistakes of the past. Jagger and Tosh created these positive vibrations on their short lived union that both musical icons performed on Saturday Night Live in 1978. Featuring a Rolling Stone and a former member of the Wailers, relive the glorious islands sounds of “Don’t Look Back” as Peter Tosh and Mick Jagger turned this once Temptations b-side into a re-imagined seventies groovy laid back reggae classic.

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