Vinyl 101: "Let it Bleed"
With an extremely recognizable layer cake on the cover and blunt album title, The Rolling Stones's Let It Bleed is no doubt one of their best albums, and it came out in 1969, which was a crucial time for the band, and for society in general. Let It Bleed has a special spot in my record collection, as do many Stones albums, but this one in particular is one of the most important to me.
Released a few months after founding Stones member Brian Jones's death, and the last album that he actually played on, Let It Bleed marks a major turning point in The Rolling Stones's musical career. Let It Bleed is a jam-packed, nine track album, and features some of the band's best work, in my opinion. About a year ago I fell into a major Stones phase that I'm pretty sure I will never grow out of, which I'm totally okay with. That love for this band is mainly because of this album, because it contains some of my favorite tracks ever, like "Midnight Rambler," "Gimme Shelter," and "You Can't Always Get What You Want."
If you're interested in learning more about The Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed is the right album to start with. The Rolling Stones have always been a true blues rock band, starting out in the early '60s with covers of artists like Chuck Berry, and even managed to name their band after a Muddy Waters song. Anyway, the reason I'm bringing up the fact that Stones love the blues is because I feel like this album is a true homage to that type of music, but the songwriting team of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards totally manage to always make it their own.
Let It Bleed opens with "Gimme Shelter," a song you've probably heard on countless film soundtracks. That song is one that manages to rile up every emotion in me because of Keith's opening riff, and the background "oooooo"-ing. There is no other riff like that in rock and roll. The next few songs are a little tamer; the band probably wanted to balance out the album since it has such a big opening and closing track. I particularly like the version of "Country Honk" on this album, which later was released as the single "Honky Tonk Women," and sounds a little different.
Next you've got the title track, "Let It Bleed," that has Jagger's typical country twang, one that you never thought could come from a British person (but hey, he makes it work). Then comes the second longest song on the album, "Midnight Rambler," and my favorite Stones song ever. It's a very sporadic blues song, one that moves from slow to fast the whole way through, and that only Mick and Keith could've written. Also, I love the loud harmonica on this track. It's perfect.
The last three songs are most enjoyable as well; you have Keith Richards singing on "You Got the Silver," with a super cool slide guitar sound, then "Monkey Man," which actually has turned into one of my faves as well. The lyrics are really playful and funny, and the high key of the piano makes me want to dance all the time. The closer is the very famous tune, "You Can't Always Get What You Want," which you may think is cliche, but is seriously one of the best songs of all time, in my opinion. That choir that sings with Mick gets me every time. Like "Gimme Shelter," the lyrics have a glimpse of what was going on in society at that time; Mick mentions demonstrations, and in "Gimme Shelter" he sings "war children."
Basically, Let It Bleed is an essential for the music enthusiast, and is a perfect starting point for anyone interested in The Rolling Stones. —Maddie
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