Original released on LP Decca
LK 4852 (mono) / SKL 4852 (stereo)
(UK 1967, January 20)
According to Robert Christgau, “Between the Buttons” was «among the greatest rock albums», and AllMusic's Richie Unterberger hailed it as «one of the Rolling Stones' strongest, most eclectic LPs». In a retrospective review for Entertainment Weekly, David Browne called the album «a cheeky set of sardonic Swinging London vaudeville rock», while Billboard magazine's Christopher Walsh wrote that «it's brimming with overlooked gems, the band delivering a captivating blend of folky, Beatles-esque pop and tough bluesy rockers.» Tom Moon wrote in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004) that the album was «lighter and thinner» than “Aftermath” and, «having belatedly discovered pop melody, Jagger and Richards were suddenly overdosing on the stuff.» Jim DeRogatis included “Between the Buttons” in his 2003 list of the essential psychedelic rock albums. The album is presented here in both mono and stereo versions.
The photo shoot for the album cover took place in November 1966 on Primrose Hill in North London. The photographer was Gered Mankowitz, who also shot the band photos for the cover of “Out of Our Heads”. The shoot took place at 5:30 in the morning following an all night recording session at Olympic Studios. Using a home-made camera filter constructed of black card, glass and Vaseline, Mankowitz created the effect of the Stones dissolving into their surroundings. The goal of the shoot was, in Mankowitz's words, «to capture the ethereal, druggy feel of the time; that feeling at the end of the night when dawn was breaking and they'd been up all night making music, stoned.» Brian Jones' dishevelled and ghostly appearance on the cover disturbed many of his fans, and critic David Dalton wrote that he looked «like a doomed albino raccoon.» The back cover of “Between the Buttons” is dominated by a six-panel cartoon accompanied by a rhythmic poem drawn by drummer Charlie Watts. When Watts asked Oldham what the title of the album would be, he told him it was "between the buttons", a term meaning "undecided". Watts gave the phrase to the title of his cartoon which in turn became the title of the album.