Wednesday, September 7, 2011

LET IT BLEED - The Rolling Stones

YEAR: 1969

LABEL: Decca/London

TRACK LISTING: Gimme Shelter, 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

IMPRESSIONS: I'm not the world's biggest Stones fan; in fact, besides "greatest hits" collections (of which I have several) I only have two Rolling Stones albums: this one and EXILE ON MAIN STREET. However, my Dad IS one of the world's greatest Stones fans and this album contains his favourite song of all time: "Gimme Shelter". He always knows when it's going to be a good day when he hears "Gimme Shelter" on the radio. In Stephen Davis' 2001 biography of the group, he describes the album this way: "No rock record, before or since, has ever so completely captured the sense of palpable dread that hung over its era". While that is certainly true of "Gimme Shelter", I don't think it really applies to the album as a whole because, to me, it sounds rather upbeat. There's the soaring choir of "You Can't Always Get What You Want" in which the comforting thought that "you get what you need" is an optimistic statement. Then there's the silly abandon of "Country Honk" which is actually a countrified version of "Honky Tonk Woman" and the wild craziness of "Monkey Man", the obvious fun had by all as they cover Robert Johnson's "Train In Vain" (retitled "Love In Vain" here) and the funky groove of "Midnight Rambler". A gloom and doom album it's really not. Sorry, Stephen.

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Gimme Shelter, Love In Vain, Midnight Rambler, Monkey Man, You Can't Always Get What You Want

GUEST ARTISTS: Leon Russell (piano & horn arrangement on "Live With Me"), Ry Cooder (mandolin on "Love In Vain"), Merry Clayton (vocals on "Gimme Shelter"), Al Kooper (piano, French horn & organ on "You Can't Always Get What You Want"), Doris Troy (backing vocals on "You Can't Always Get What You Want"), The London Bach Choir (vocals on "You Can't Always Get What You Want")

FACT SHEET: LET IT BLEED is The Rolling Stones' 8th British album and 10th American album. It is the last album to feature founding member Brian Jones and the first to include Mick Taylor. Jones appears on only two songs: playing autoharp on "You Got the Silver" and percussion on "Midnight Rambler". The sculpture on the album cover is by Robert Brownjohn. The album cover was one of ten chosen by the Royal Mail for a set of "Classic Album Cover" postage stamps in January 2010.

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