Monday, July 7, 2008

Let It Bleed Roundup

Let It Bleed Roundup

1. "Gimme Shelter" – 4:32
2. "Love in Vain" (Robert Johnson) – 4:22
3. "Country Honk" – 3:10
4. "Live with Me" – 3:36
5. "Let It Bleed" – 5:34
6. "Midnight Rambler" – 6:57
7. "You Got the Silver" – 2:54
8. "Monkey Man" – 4:15
9. "You Can't Always Get What You Want" – 7:30

(See also the related single "Honky Tonk Women".)

You know, any album that opens with a track as strong as "Gimme Shelter" has got a lot going for it. But looking at the track list above, what really strikes me are the two blues numbers, which are as far apart, stylistically, as is possible within a genre so musically limited.: "Love in Vain", perhaps the darkest song of Robert Johnson's legacy, performed by the Stones as a country ballad; and "Midnight Rambler", the Stones' "blues opera", with various tempo changes and a menacing protagonist. These are the products of a group with ambition and control.

"Monkey Man" is the turd floating in the punch bowl. But whaddya gonna do, right? The rest of the album is great.

Some background from Wikipedia:

Although they had begun the recording of "You Can't Always Get What You Want" in March 1968, before Beggars Banquet had been released, recording for Let It Bleed began in earnest in February 1969 and would continue sporadically until November. Brian Jones performs on only two tracks, the autoharp on "You Got the Silver" and percussion on "Midnight Rambler". His replacement Mick Taylor also plays on two tracks, "Country Honk" and "Live With Me." Keith Richards, who had already shared vocal duties with Mick Jagger on a handful of songs ("Connection", "Something Happened to Me Yesterday" and "Salt of the Earth"), sang his first solo lead vocal on a Rolling Stones recording with "You Got the Silver."

During 1968, Richards had been hanging out in London with Gram Parsons, who had left The Byrds on the eve of their departure for a tour in the Republic of South Africa. By all accounts, Parsons had significant impact on Richards' taste in country music, and perhaps as a result of his influence, the band recorded a true honky-tonk song, "Country Honk," a more uptempo and rock and roll version of which would appear as their next single, "Honky Tonk Women." The LP track featured fiddle player Byron Berline, who worked with Parsons frequently throughout the latter's career. Parsons frequently took credit for the arrangement of "Country Honk", although both Jagger and Richards have stated that it was actually the original arrangement of the song as written and conceived while vacationing in Brazil in late 1968. In any event, Parsons had recently introduced the group to his cache of traditional country records and was at least indirectly responsible for this sea change. The singer's own cover, released on the 1976 rarities compilation Sleepless Nights, features a slightly different set of lyrics and yet another arrangement that combines elements of both Stones versions.

Recorded under trying circumstance owing to the band having reached the final impasse with Jones, the album has been called a great summing up of the dark underbelly of the 1960s.[citation needed] In addition to being one of their all-time classics, Bleed is the second of the Stones' run of four studio LPs that are generally regarded as among their greatest achievements artistically, equalled only by the best of their great 45s from that decade. The other three albums are Beggars Banquet (1968), Sticky Fingers (1971), and Exile on Main Street (1972). Steven Van Zandt said the albums represented the "Second Great Era" of the Rolling Stones and called it "the greatest run of albums in history". [1]

Released in December, Let It Bleed reached #1 in the UK (temporarily knocking The Beatles' Abbey Road out of the top slot) and #3 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart in the US, where it eventually went double platinum. The album was also critically well-received.

In 1998 Q magazine readers voted Let It Bleed the 69th greatest album of all time, while in 2000 the same magazine placed it at number 28 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. In 2001, the TV network VH1 placed Let It Bleed at number 24 on their best album survey. In 2003, it was listed as number 32 on the List of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.