My attempt to blog all of the entries from the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die
Brief Background: Let it Bleed was recorded in London throughout 1969, with overdubs taking place in Los Angeles. The album was released in December of 1969.
What I think: This album is sort of a sandwich in which the bread is two of The Rolling Stones most famous songs, and what good bread it is! The meat in the middle is no slouch either.
I could write this whole blog about the first song, “Gimme Shelter”. It is the perfect song for the insane time period in which it was released. Richard’s guitar part is amazing, Mick’s harmonica is steller, the tat-n-tat-n-tat drums are some of my favorite ever. The lyrics masterfully encapsulate the dread of somebody who has seen and experienced too much way to quickly. And if that wasn’t enough, we have the best backing vocal part ever done by Merry Clayton, who was called up in the middle of the night to come to the studio to sing the part (Check out the stellar documentary 20 feet from Stardom if you haven’t done so). The best part of this vocal is towards the middle of the song when her voice breaks twice, the second time it excites Jagger enough that he shouts and claps. I can just see him jumping in the air as he does it! (Here is a Youtube stream of the isolated vocal).
Following that is a steller cover of Robert Johnson’s “Love in Vain” and the country version of “Honky Tonk Woman (HTW)”(which was released as a single before this record was released) entitled “Country Honk”. HTW is one of my favorite Stones songs, so when I first stumbled upon the “Country Honk” version it seemed weird and out of place to me. Years later though, I do like it, and its setting in Jackson, MS as opposed to Memphis, TN. The next five songs are just as amazing, with “Let it Bleed” and “Monkey Man” being my two favorites.
The last song on the album is “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, which I always sort of feel like I’ve heard too much and become sick of… and then by a minute in I’m a true believer again. To me it’s an epic pop song with great hooks and a stellar chorus to back it up.
And there you have it, a damn near perfect album. It’s interesting, because “Gimme Shelter” and “You Can’t Always…” sound so much different from the more country and blues tinged numbers on the rest of the album, but it works masterfully.
Do I agree or disagree with the writers as to this being an album you must listen to? I certainly agree, we are in the middle of the mighty Stones roll at the end of the 60’s and beginning of the 70’s, let’s enjoy the ride.
Rating (Out of 5): 5
Amazon Review (Out of 5): 4.5
Is this my first time hearing this album? No (39/157)
Percentage of Albums that are new to me: 75%