Let It Bleed (1969)


 
1.Gimme Shelter 2.Love in Vain 3.Country Honk 4.Live With Me 5.Let It Bleed 6.Midnight Rambler 7.You Got the Silver 8.Monkey Man 9.You Can't Always Get What You Want

 

The Stones managed to up the ante with an even better record than the outstanding Beggars Banquet. Most fans consider this the band's best, and it certainly falls into the best period of their history when they seemed to do no wrong (artistically, that is). It's not immediately apparent, but when listened to closely - this release, in many ways, is a companion, or a continuation of Beggars Banquet. The styles are remarkably similar. A lot of r&b influenced rock, a lot of sleaze, a lot of controversy and a little bit of country-western. What makes this release unique is that whereas its predecessor was raw and stripped down instrument wise, this album manages to fill in every gap with a wide variety of unique instrumentation. We have mandolins, saxophones, fiddles, French horns, and full choirs. This album also was the first to feature the new guitarist Mick Taylor, who replaced the troubled Brian Jones. Jones is featured on a few tracks here, but his participation is minimal. He would be found drowned in his swimming pool before this album ever hit the stores.

The record starts out the gate running with the classic Gimme Shelter that sets a high standard for the rest of the record. It's an angry, crass commentary of society of the time (maybe any time) and it features the band at their gutsiest, rawest power. It's a little funny how it almost seems like they might be trying to mirror Beggar's Banquet song-for-song. This song isn't too much different from (theme wise) Sympathy For the Devil, from the former release, and then, like that album they follow up with a slowed down piece, a cover of Love in Vain and then, again like their last album, follow with a tongue in-cheek country & western song Country Honk. Ironic is that this tune is a replication of Honky Tonk Woman (not featured here) that has a little bit different lyrics, much different feel, but almost just as impressive and enjoyable.

Heck the whole album is enjoyable. Sleazy, yes, it's that too, as most apparent in the title track talking about cocaine and "creaming all over me", but this was beginning to be pretty much expected with this group, as was the band's almost autobiographical Monkey Man. Keith get's his first vocal on the haunting ballad You Got the Silver that showcases his raspy voice that would make a cameo appearance on many of the band's albums over the years. They save the best for last with the well-known anthem You Can't Always Get What You Want featuring the London Bach Choir singing the opening chorus that turns into the band's best sing-along. In addition to the choir, there are musical guests galore. The band was becoming more and more "piano" heavy, and they feature three incredible pianists here - their good friend Ian Stewart, Nicky Hopkins, and the immortal Leon Russell. Throw in a couple other classic names such as Madeline Bell and Ry Cooder, and you can see how, this album easily blossomed into the band's high point of their entire career.


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