27 June 2006

The Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed

Let It Bleed is, hands down, the best damn Stones album ever. [Kollett, you gonna argue with that?] Well, OK, there’s Sticky Fingers … and Exile on Main Street … but Let It Bleed has always been my favorite. It’s sexy, it’s raw, it’s rock and blues and honky tonk. The album was released in December 1969 — smack dab in the middle of the Stones’ heyday. It’s also Brian Jones’ last album; he played on two or three tracks before he drowned. Mick Taylor [Kollett, are your toes curling?] joined the Stones on this album, playing on two tracks.

Let It Bleed trivia: Many think the title is a play on The Beatles' Let It Be, but it isn't. Keith coined the phrase during a recording session. Mick fiddled with a drum track for hours, and Keith had to play along on the acoustic guitar, until his fingers bled.

Track 1: “Gimme Shelter”
Has there ever been a better song to kick off an album? It simply, to revert to my 1970s self, kicks f*cking ass. And shivers your spine when Merry Clayton comes in. Ms. Clayton’s backing vocals are, quite possibly, my favorite ever in a rock song.

Track 2: “Love in Vain”
Great cover of the Robert Johnson classic. Of course, Mick and Keith tried to steal the songwriting credits … but that’s what the Glimmer Twins do. (And didn’t Led Zeppelin try the same thing? Good thing the devil took Mr. Johnson early.) The guitar is perfect, sad, heartbreaking. That’s Ry Cooder on mandolin.

Track 3: “Country Honk”
Keith was hanging out with Gram Parsons during this time, and you hear that beautiful Georgian’s influence in “Country Honk.” Gram arranged the song, and in return got to record “Wild Horses” with the Flying Burrito Brothers.

Track 4: “Live with Me”
OK, it’s a stupid, silly song. But sometimes we need our rock to be stupid … especially if it rocks. And this one fits the bill. Love the way the bass starts it off, love Keith's and Mick Taylor's guitar. And nobody could work a sax and piano into a rock song better than the Stones. That’s Leon Russell and Nicky Hopkins on piano — and, of course, Bobby Keys on the saxophone solo (this is Bobby’s first appearance on a Stones record).

Track 5: “Let It Bleed”
Another great honky tonk tune. If you can listen to this song and your shoulders don’t start the dance, the foot doesn’t start the tap, well, my friend, you may not have a soul.

Track 6: “Midnight Rambler”
Trippy, psychedelic, cool ... and about the Boston Strangler.

Track 7: “You Got the Silver”
Keith Richard’s first solo. Great blues tune.

Track 8: “Monkey Man”
This is my favorite album track … and I should be embarrassed (but I'm not) to admit what made me listen again. There was an episode of “21 Jump Street” where Johnny Depp’s character [let’s all take a moment to reflect on that perfect specimen of male flesh] goes undercover in a Fame-type school, and his band plays “Monkey Man"; Johnny played guitar, his first imitation of Keef. This track is often scoffed by rock critics, but I love it. Each musician gets a spotlight. And, damn, the rhythm is perfect. I. Simply. Must. Dance. Wildy. Every time I hear it. Ron Wood has said this is his favorite song to play live, and I agree; it’s one of my favorite Beth/Buck/Richards on-stage fantasies.

Track 9: “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
Best damn use of a song in a movie ever. [For you youngsters who read The Cup, that would be the funeral scene in The Big Chill.] The song is perfect, we all love it, so there’s really nothing else for me to say.

* * * * * *



At 6/27/2006 11:02:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i love this record

At 6/27/2006 11:03:00 AM, Blogger haahnster said...

EXCELLENT!!! Very well done. I think you've done a very nice job of supporting your choice for best Stones album. Song by song, it's hard to argue. If forced to choose one, at gunpoint, I'd probably say Sticky Fingers. But, you make an excellent case for Let It Bleed. Exile is right there, as well. I'd say it becomes somewhat of an exercise in splitting hairs to try to choose just one.

But, nice job of choosing! (And, I *certainly* agree that the backing vocals on "Gimme Shelter" make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up!!!! Great guitar on that track as well.)

At 6/27/2006 01:33:00 PM, Anonymous patrick said...

You turned me onto "You Got the Silver." F-ing great song. Long live the Keef!

At 6/27/2006 01:39:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

PETE: You were always a smart man.

HAAHNSTER: The Stones had a good four-album run, which also included Beggars Banquet. But Let It Bleed makes me dance the most.

PATRICK: That's why I'm here on this earth: to introduce great music to the masses.

At 6/27/2006 03:13:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy said...

If you can't say anything nice . . .

At 6/27/2006 05:03:00 PM, Blogger Benny said...

Sticky Fingers is my favorite Stones album, though Let It Bleed is good, too.

But Sticky Fingers always gets listened to all the way through. It's terribly sexy.

At 6/27/2006 07:05:00 PM, Blogger Grant Miller said...

I really like "Beggar's Banquet" and "Exile on Mainstreet." Can't really go wrong with pre-Ron Wood Stones.

At 6/27/2006 09:10:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

JERMEY: Play nice. I don't diss SD, my sweet.

BENNY: It was a hard call. I mean, "Bitch" and "Brown Sugar"? "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" and "Moonlight Mile"? But Let It Bleed is my sentimental fave. Don't you wish those Stones were still around?

GRANT: Ron's just around to be Keith's pet and drinking buddy. Wish Mick Taylor had stuck around.

At 6/29/2006 06:49:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy said...

I did play nice. I didn't say anything at all. Although I will say this much. Paint It Black is on my list somewhere as a very good song.

At 6/29/2006 07:36:00 PM, Blogger Benny said...

Beth, I'd settle for having been around with THOSE Stones were around.


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