Aftermath, released April 1966 by Decca Records, is the fourth British studio album by the Rolling Stones. It was released in the United States in June 1966 by London Records as their sixth American album. The album is considered an artistic breakthrough for the band: it is the first to consist entirely of Mick Jagger/Keith Richards compositions, while Brian Jones played a variety of instruments not usually associated with their music, including sitar, Appalachian dulcimer,marimbas, and Japanese koto, as well as guitar, harmonica and keyboards, though much of the music is still rooted in Chicago electric blues. It was the first Rolling Stones album to be recorded entirely in the US, at the RCA Studios in California, and their first album released in true stereo.
As with all the Stones pre-1967 LPs, different editions were released in the UK and the US. This was a common feature of British pop albums at that time—the same practice was applied to all the Beatles albums prior to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band—because UK albums typically did not include tracks that had already been released as singles.
The original British version of Aftermath was issued in April 1966 as a fourteen-track LP. Issued between the non-LP single releases of "19th Nervous Breakdown" and "Paint It, Black", Aftermath was a major hit in the UK, spending eight weeks at No. 1 on the UK album chart.
The American version featured different cover art and a shorter running order that eliminated "Out of Time", "Take It or Leave It", "What to Do", and "Mother's Little Helper". All four tracks were later issued in the US on other compilations, and "Mother's Little Helper" was also issued as a single in 1966, peaking at No. 8 on the Billboard charts. In their place, the album substituted their current No. 1 hit "Paint It, Black". The revamped Aftermath still reached No. 2 in the US, eventually going platinum.
Several of the songs on the album were initially meant for the US release Could You Walk on the Water. This LP was rejected by Rolling Stones' American record company, London Records, who instead opted for the greatest hits package Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass). The track list for the shelved album includes "Take It or Leave It", "Mother's Little Helper", "Think", "Goin' Home" (short edit) and "Doncha Bother Me". Of these, all five would be released on the UK version of Aftermath, three on the US version. Of the remaining tracks, "19th Nervous Breakdown" and "Sad Day" were released as a single, "Sittin' on the Fence" and "Ride On, Baby" were later to be released on the US album Flowers, along with "Mother's Little Helper" and "Take It or Leave It". "Looking Tired" remains unreleased to this day.