Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed (1969)
As their friendly rivals the Beatles unraveled, the Stones were dealing with some harsh realities of their own during the last months of 1969. Jones’ death in the July led to Taylor’s baptism of fire at their massive Hyde Park concert, and when Let It Bleed was released in November, they were about to experience the further trauma of Altamont.
Amid such turbulence, the album is a compelling last word on ‘60s hedonism, with dark clouds gathering above. Its bookends, 'Gimme Shelter' and 'You Can’t Always Get What You Want', have lost none of their malevolent power. Merry Clayton’s soulful wail on the opener has been ably replicated on recent tours by the excellent Lisa Fischer, while the whiter than white London Bach Choir gives the latter an uneasy, incongruous innocence. At the raunchier end of the scale, 'Live With Me' was a forerunner of snake-hipped standards to follow, and there’s fascinating aural history in 'Country Honk', which is a country-flavoured version of the song they had recently smashed the charts with, 'Honky Tonk Women'. Eight Jagger-Richards compositions were augmented by a sure-footed version of 'Love In Vain', their nod to blues pioneer Robert Johnson.
That this remains a favoured album by the band itself is proved by the appearance of the title track and the superb 'Monkey Man' as latter-day live selections. 'Midnight Rambler' builds great momentum over nearly seven minutes, and Keith’s lead vocal gives 'You Got The Silver' a different pace, alongside Jones’ ghostly autoharp contribution.
Let It Bleed / Love In Vain / Midnight Rambler / Gimme Shelter / You Got The Silver / You Can't Always Get What You Want / Live With Me / Monkey Man / Country Honk
- The album was the last album to feature Brian Jones and the first to feature Mick Taylor.
- Let It Bleed knocked The Beatles' Abbey Road off the top spot in the UK album charts
- The album art features a sculpture by Robert Brownjohn. The cake part was made by a then unknown writer called Delia Smith.
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