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le 9 juin 2005
For my money this is the best Rolling Stones album ever, even if it is really not a typical example of their work. I do not think you can find a better opening to a Stones album than "Gimme Shelter" with Mary Clayton providing awesome guest vocals to some apocalyptic lyrics. The catchy guitar lead suggests bad things are coming this way, a sentiment amplified by the high pitched, wordless vocals and the complimentary piano before the rest of the band crashes in and Mick Jagger starts singing. I also know you can not top "You Can't Always Get What You Want" as the big finale, what with the London Bach Choir lending their voices (not to mention Al Kooper providing the most memorable French Horn work on a sixties rock 'n' roll album). I understand the idea that this is the Stones' response to "Hey Jude," but it certainly stands on its own as a classic pop tune, which makes it a most atypical Stones song on that grounds alone. Then there is the philosophical sentiments of the chorus, which again has you double-checking to make sure this is the same Stones who did "Sympathy for the Devil" and were the acknowledged bad boys of rock 'n' roll.
"Midnight Rambler," which originally began Side 2 in those days of vinyl, is another one of those most rare long Stones songs and featured Mick Jagger wailing on his harp. "Monkey Man" is my all time favorite non-Stones hit song with Jagger pointing out " I hope we're not too messianic or a trifle too satanic" (I used it for a class assignment once as the music background for a Pat Paulsen speech) and "Country Honk" is a countrified version of their hit "Honky Tonk Woman." You also have a couple of acoustic blues tracks with "You Got the Silver," which offers up the first lead vocals by Keith Richards, and a cover of Robert Johnson's "Love in Vain." "Live With Me" is a solid Stone rocker and the title song is okay, but what is important is that title: it fostered an inherent comparison with "Let It Be," but since that was the Beatles' weakest album, the Stones came out ahead on this one. Those were fun days in rock and roll, boys and girls, let me tell you.
Special mention to the efforts of Nicky Hopkins on this album, who plays piano on most of the key tracks as well as the late Brian Jones, who appears on two of the tracks, as does his replacement, Mick Taylor. On top of all that, I love the way the back of the album deconstructs the front. "Beggar's Banquet" might be the more traditional Rolling Stones album, but "Let It Bleed" still holds the top spot for me and the last time I put together my Top 10 albums of all time list for my Pop Culture class "Let It Bleed" was on it. Finally, as it says at the bottom of the liner notes: THIS RECORD SHOULD BE PLAYED LOUD. It should also be played often.
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