image from last.fm
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Gimme Shelter (11/28/98; #29 AR) / Love in Vain / Country Honk / Live with Me / Let It Bleed / Midnight Rambler / You Got the Silver / Monkey Man / You Can’t Always Get What You Want (7/19/69; #42 US)
Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.3 UK, 6.0 world
Peak: 3 US, 1 1 UK
Review: The Rolling Stones were in turmoil when they recorded Let It Bleed. Brian Jones, the guitarist who originally lead the group, was booted during the sessions for his serious drug problem. He died less than a month later. His final work appears on two tracks on the album. As such, Let It Bleed “finds the band, for perhaps the first time, accurately reflecting the spirit of its age. [They] now found themselves firmly in the center of the social and political post-‘68 whirlwind, and faced up to the challenge magnificently.” CDU
The Stones had already launched a “confident climb to its artistic peak” CDU with 1968’s Beggars Banquet, but this was “a quantum leap even from that musical milestone” CDU extending “the rock & blues feel of Beggar’s Banquet into slightly harder-rocking, more demonically sexual territory.” AMG Let It Bleed is “a motley compound of country, blues and gospel fire [which] rattles and burns with apocalyptic cohesion.” RS500 It “is less of an homage than its predecessor, as the songs begin to reflect the personalities that drive them.” IB The album also showcases “every role the Stones have ever played…swaggering studs, evil demons, harem keepers and fast life riders” RS – while also signaling the beginning of the ‘70s.
Gimme Shelter “came to symbolize not only the catastrophe of the Stones’ free show at Altamont but the death of the utopian spirit of the 1960s.” RS500 The song “is the sound of a frantically braking freight train about to crush the ‘60s under its wheels” IB as it “leads us decisively out of Flower Power and into a world where rape and murder are ‘just a shot away.’” CDU The song “builds on the dark beauty of the finest melody Mick [Jagger] and Keith have ever written,” RS “slowly adding instruments and sounds until an explosively full presence of bass and drums rides…into the howls of Mick and…Mary Clayton.” RS “The Stones have never done anything better.” RS
You Can’t Always Get What You Want, with its “epic moralism…honky-tonk piano and massed vocal chorus” RS500 “is one of the most outrageous productions ever staged by a rock and roll band.” RS It “was the Stones’ ‘Hey Jude’ of sorts, with its epic structure, horns, philosophical lyrics, and swelling choral vocals.” AMG “Every note…works to perfection.” RS
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Songs like that, Monkey Man, and Let It Bleed, with its “druggy party ambience,” AMG “cast a sharp writer’s eye on the decay seeping into the Stones’ camp, proving that Mick had become more than a pair of lips and hips.” IB Elsewhere there’s the “menacing Midnight Rambler” AZ in which Jagger sounds like a bloodthirsty stalker and “the spare country settings of Country Honk,” IB “the two-stepping alter ego of ‘Honky-Tonk Women.’” AZ The Stones also do a “brilliant revival of Robert Johnson’s exquisite Love in Vain.” RS
Resources and Related Links:
- The Rolling Stones’ DMDB Encyclopedia entry
- AMG All Music Guide review by Richie Unterberger
- AZ Amazon.com review by Steve Knopper
- CDU Cd Universe
- IB Ink Blot Magazine by Jesse Fahnestock.
- RS Rolling Stone review by Greil Marcus. Originally in print issue #49 in 1969.
- RS500 Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time