Recorded on March 29, 1968 at at London's Olympic Studios, Child Of The Moon is the frayed end of a dirty golden thread. Cut with New York producer Jimmy Miller at the start of sessions for what would become the band's seventh studio album, Beggars Banquet, the track audibly harks back to the high Mephistophelian baroque of their December '67 album, Their Satanic Majesties Request.
Out of sync with the group's new antsy country-blues sound, Child Of The Moon was rush-released as the B-side to the caustic sleaze stomp of May '68's Jumpin' Jack Flash. A scion of wretched psychedelic excess then, disowned by its dissolute parents? Well, evidently that's not the whole story.
On paper, Child Of The Moon is Jagger's polytheistic love letter to Marianne Faithfull, a mash note laced with a little elemental riddle and mystery. However, on record, it actually feels closer to pagan curse than lyric poem, a mixed-bag mojo potion invocation of a dream lover pushed to ritualistic nightmare by the hoodoo "Rain" beat of Charlie Watts' drums, Brian Jones' hypnotic saxophone drone, Jagger's own fixed-pitch chant vocals and Jimmy Miller's deeply unsettling shouting in those murky opening moments.
The band obviously thought enough of the song to accompany it with a promotional video, and it's a startling artefact, recently revived on that social media following a tweet from the brilliant @bowiesongs account.
An early semi-narrative work by the British director Michael Lindsay-Hogg - who graduated from Ready Steady Go! to direct The Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus, Let It Be, and Brideshead Revisited, and is the biological son of Orson Welles - Child Of The Moon plays like a British sci-fi/horror short, seemingly referencing Italian giallo, Village Of The Damned and J. Lee Thompson's 1966 pagan horror (and Wicker Man forerunner) Eye Of The Devil.
The film possesses the dusk-light glow of a peaking acid trip, magic-hour euphoria tinged with a chilly unease, yet also tunes into the darker subtext of the Stones occult dalliances.
“The film possesses the dusk-light glow of a peaking acid trip.”
This is a music promo in which a lone woman - her face dirty and smeared with tears - stumbles out of a dark wood only to encounter a gang of five frowning men blocking her path. The most grim and obvious interpretation is that this group are potential sexual aggressors. Another reading, and one perhaps more in keeping with the song's more mystical qualities, is that Jagger et al are auguries of excess. Even so, the woman, styled similarly to Lynn Redgrave's naive innocent Georgy Girl is being warned to go no further. This is your future? Maybe. Or perhaps, simply, this is not for you, dear. Either way, turn back now.
Whether wholly intentional or not, Child Of The Moon stands as one of the most disturbing and powerful representations of The Rolling Stones' fiendish late ’60s mythology, what the writer and musician Gary Valentine referred to in MOJO 70 as "the latent violence of the love generation".