time, look you see, for another one of them looks at an album i would consider to be one of the greatest ever recorded. you are all, as many have, over the years, very welcome indeed to disagree. also, as usual, i don't set out to give a definitive technical or historical account of this record; rather just the basics of a background and my reaction to it.
towards the central part of the end of last year i had the great pleasure of meeting some sort of ambassador from our province, along with the self-selected Viscount of Stockton. after we had completed our meeting, i strolled on past HMV, as i am so want to do, and picked up the CD variation of the recording of Let It Bleed by The Rolling Stones, a band often referred to (mostly here) as The Ro££ing $tone$, such is there now current proclivity to place money above music in the most Noel Gallagher way possible. considering the high coin of money count that Stones records usually have, it was a delight to be able to buy it for a mere £5.99, a price you seem still able to get it at.
why this album out of all the Stones records? well, we will get there. first, yes, the well worn trivia. yes it was indeed Delia Smith who, or if you like whom, baked the cake on the cover. yes it was the last record recorded with Brian Jones. yes it was the first record to feature Mick Taylor. and yes, it was the last band the album released in the 60s, and with it being released in December 1969, many might say it is very much the definition of the end of a specific era. but let's move on.
but of course, google and apple have decided to once again clash over the subject of picture orientation. sorry about the above, but no matter, that will actually tie in quite nicely with some comments later on here.
a statement i have always made of the Stones is that they never really released a "great album" in the sense that their only true peers, The Beatles and The Who, did. this should not be interpreted as them being a singles band, seeing records as being "some killer, a fair bit of filler". it's just that my experience of Stones albums is that they didn't feature either the fluency of a Beatles one, or the "concept", smash you in the face and never stop smashing you in the face approach gently taken by The Who. oddly, for me, the one time they did have any "fluency" was by sheer accident; on the collection of outtakes released as Tattoo You, a record thrown together as an excuse for a lucrative tour.
the Stones did make many albums that have come to be seen as classics. Exile On Main Street is the one most go for, with an honourable mention to Sticky Fingers. for me, though, the greatest is the apparently frequently overlooked Let It Bleed.
what makes it so great? well, it is bookmarked with two songs regularly regarded as being in the top ten of all Stones songs of all time - which is saying something. the record commences with the dark, brooding, wailing at the horror of it at majesty that is Gimme Shelter, and comes to an end with the resignation of lament that is You Can't Always Get What You Want. this musical journey from a dark start to the acceptance of despair features stop offs at the ultra-sexed, whacka oompah bass funk of Live With Me, Keith Richards having a go at singing on You Got The Silver, the seemingly effortless excellence of Midnight Rambler and my favourite, Monkey Man, which sees that rarest of things - the Stones apparently making a public comment or response to comments, allegations and suggestions about the band.
for trivia fans - Monkey Man is the one on the GoodFellas soundtrack. when a coked up Henry Hill hits yet more cocaine and you hear the unmistakable sound of Jagger screaming i'm a monkey, that's Monkey Man it is off.
a peculiarity of the rest of the record, and in fairness a few moments in the above mentioned songs, is just how much of it is built up, or if you like constructed, from variants of Honky Tonk Women; a single only release from the same sessions. Country Honk in particular is basically that song with some fiddles and banjos making it a country version, but the other songs have hints of it too. virtually any other band, you would think, constructing a record out of variations and different takes of the same song would be taken to task, but that doesn't seem to stop it all working here.
no, i am not going to do my usual thing of making a video of snippets of the songs in poor sound. it's cheap enough for you to buy the album; even easier for you to "stream" it or listen to it via other means.
with the band's enthusiasm for "special editions" of late, be it the understandable revisit of Exile to the somewhat less understandable and perhaps bizarre decision to give Some Girls a deluxe refurbishment, i really don't quite get why this one has not been revisited, revamped and given a massive re-release. perhaps it is down to the fact that many of the songs recorded for the sessions of this record ended up on the next few albums, but mostly i suspect that it's just that damned dark a record, in all senses, for the band to actively go back to, despite the two "biggies" being staples of any set.
when i say dark, i mean dark. one criticism regularly thrown at the Stones is that of them carrying on, despite their age. their response to that has always been "well, no one has ever done what we have done, certainly not for so long. it's impossible to say how long it will, or should, last, as there is nothing to compare it to". certainly no band has gone through quite what the Stones did at the time of Let It Bleed. outside of the arrests, there was the small matter of Brian Jones being fired and later found dead in his swimming pool. as such, this record features a peculiar, perhaps taste and decency defying combination of songs that at times see the band with Brian Jones, with Mick Taylor and as a four piece.
why is it called Let It Bleed? good question, and one that i have no definite answer for. rock legend says that it is some sort of dig or response at The Beatles' calling an album Let It Be, with the Stones variation being somewhat harder, darker and restless. it might have been quite a good idea to name it something else after the death of Brian Jones, but it would seem that the Stones did not care one jot if anyone interpreted the album title as being a reference to his passing. for whatever reason that it is called what it is, it's a title that absolutely captures the sound of the record itself.
much as is the case with The Who and The Beatles, a "best of" is usually a good point of departure for someone looking to explore the sounds of The Rolling Stones. whereas at times The Who have albums that sound better than what made it to a "best of" and The Beatles just sound good across it all, however, there's a lot of room for "hit and miss" when seeking out Rolling Stones albums to try. i would say, though, that Let It Bleed is the album that mostly captures all that i, and millions of others, love of The Rolling Stones.
well, yeah. i mean, if you wanted a less threatening, less dark, less bleak Stones record, then Sticky Fingers or Tattoo You. but i would go with Let It Bleed.
i hope this has been at the least of slight passing interest to someone, and i really hope that one day the band elect to stare this demon in the face and issue a retrospective look at the record. if nothing else, it would be nice for them to fix the frustrating, couldn't care less approach to the artwork - both on the vinyl and all CD issues - which sees the tracklisting randomly given rather than in order.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!