Released in the summer of 1967 to elevate the Stones'Stateside profile while they were stuck in England finishing Their Satanic Majesties Request and sorting out various drug-related legal problems, Flowers has typically been derided as a shoddy grab bag of loose tracks and outtakes. But four decades on, this album remains (along with the same year's Between the Buttons) an intriguing and definitive snapshot of the band in their London Dandy phase.
No longer the earnest blues students of yore, not yet the debauched rock n'roll super-icons they would become, the Stones circa 1966 — when most of these songs were recorded — were high on their burgeoning songwriting abilities, the myriad possibilities presented by a rapidly expanding pop lexicon and (let's be honest here) a whole lotta hash. The fey vocal performances and quasi-medieval instrumentation of “Lady Jane,” “Ruby Tuesday” and “Backstreet Girl” sound fairly ridiculous now, but there's also something incredibly charming about them; it's almost as if you can actually hear the ruffled shirts and green velvet trousers.
Also not to be missed are the perverse pop of “Out Of Time” and “Ride On, Baby,” the psychedelicized Bo Diddley-isms of “Please Go Home” and the jaw-dropping single, “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?”, the most insanely chaotic thing they ever recorded. Only the lame cover of “My Girl” is anything less than essential.