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Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed

Related Links Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

Review: 071
Date: 15 Apr 02

 


Rating: 5 Stars

Musicians:
Mick Jagger - Vocals & Harmonic
Keith Richards - Guitars
Bill Wyman - Bass
Charlie Watts - Drums

Tracks Listing:
1.Gimmie Shelter
2. Love In Vain
3. Country Honk
4. Live With Me
5. Let It Bleed
6. Midnight Rambler
7. You Got The Silver
8. Monkey Man
9. You Can’t Always Get What You Want

 


The Rolling Stones America tour was the defining moment to end the Swinging Sixties, taking live Rock ‘n’ Roll to a completely new level of Sonic Sophistication (a word that most Americans didn’t think Mick Jagger could spell at the time, little knowing that he was a good old ex Dartford Grammar school boy). However, as the carnage that developed at the band’s end of tour free concert proved, the rising counter-culture had its dark side.

So “Let It Bleed” suited the times perfectly. At one point it’s rough and aggressive, the next mild and reflective. Restless and combative, the album expresses the dawning awareness that came as the sixties drew to a close and the seventies stretched ahead of us.

Opening gambit “Gimmie Shelter”, more than most of the songs here, encapsulates the dread that lurks within the excitement. As Mick warns us that the storms are rising, sung over the slowly growling licks from the guitars, you can’t help but wonder whether these guys knew a thing or two.

Brian Jones only gets one credit on the whole album for percussion on “Midnight Rambler”. To make up for this, a few friends were brought in to fill out the sound, add depth, light, shade and variety. Glyn Johns and Jimmy Miller were retained from the Beggars Banquet Sessions to fill the engineering and production roles respectively, and the wonderful Nicky Hopkins was persuaded to lend his nimble digits to most of the keyboard roles. On several tracks the quest artists nearly steal the show. Ry Cooder’s mandolin on “Love In Vain” must be some of his finest work ever; Mary Clayton out Jagger’s Mick on the counter part vocals on “Gimmie Shelter”; and “Country Honk” (the two-stepping country alter ego of “Honk Tonk Women”) has some fiddle by Byron Berline that just makes your feet want to tap.

But the absolute masterstroke was bringing in the London Bach Choir to add their considerable presence to the climax of final cut “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, closing the album in all it’s glorious seven and a half minutes. This song will always remain at the pinnacle of the Stones achievements. But then every track on this album is a gem, so perhaps just one track should not be singled out. It’s the entire concept of the whole of “Let It Bleed” that makes it work.

It also saw the final swansong to the Stones recording the blues with their murky version of Robert Johnson’s “Live With Me”. Although Bill Wyman plays bass throughout the album, it was actually Keith Richards who plays the amazing bass intro to this track. “You Got The Silver” is arguably the best lead vocal track that Mr. Richards ever laid down.

It was eighteen months before the Stones gave us another single and album (both worldwide number ones in “Brown Sugar” and “Sticky Fingers”) by which time they had created there own record label and became tax exiles. Of course we did get the live album of this America tour to keep us interested (“Get Your Ya Ya’s Out”), but had not the Stones rallied over these past twelve months, I doubt very much that the legend would of continued.

The Stones had many glory years in front of them, and even now you never know. They still might have a trick or two up their sleeves, they can certainly still cut it live, in fact they seem to get better and better. There have been a few casualties, a few ups with the downs. Mick Taylor left as he required something more productive (well, we are still waiting for you to set the world alright, Mick) but that was no sweat as Ronnie Wood fitted in much better anyway. Several sidemen have gone to the great gig in the sky, Ian Stewart, Nicky Hopkins, and Jimmy Miller, whilst Bill Wyman retired to run a restaurant. But they are still out there, the greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll band in the world. Ronnie with that Benson & Hedges hanging from his lips as he reaches for the slide; Charlie Watts stone faced as ever with an even more dapper suit on; Mick Jagger making headlines every time he even looks at a young lady; and Keith Richards… Well, everybody wants to be Keith Richards, but nobody can.

As it says at the bottom of the cover to “Let It Bleed”: This Record Should Be Played Loud. Follow the instructions and you can’t go wrong.

 

Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew

E-mail: review@mott-the-dog.com

Related Links Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV


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