Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed

I was looking over my Facebook page this week and found where I prepared a list of my top 15 albums in 15 minutes. I noticed one of several on the list that I had not featured on my typical Saturday album feature – one of these was the classic Rolling Stones LP: “Let it Bleed.”

It doesn’t get much better than this album that was the last to feature Brian Jones (playing autoharp and percussion) on two cuts and the first to feature Mic Taylor as the Stone’s lead guitarist also on two songs. Keith Richards handled the majority of the guitar chores. Most of the cuts have the Stones as a four piece with the addition of some well known session players.

Monkey Man

Now which three songs to feature – that’s going to be the tough part. So much of the charm of this album isn’t just the Stone’s performance – it’s the work of the sidemen, session musicians, and the Stones introducing new instruments into the mix. What I always thought was Nicky Hopkins playing piano on the intro on “Monkey Man” is actually Bill Wyman playing vibraphone. Producer Jimmy Miller guests on tambourine. It’s a great tune all around and you occasionally hear it on TV shows.

Midnight Rambler

One of the two songs featuring Brian Jones is the classic Stones’ blues original “Midnight Rambler.” Jones is playing percussion on this cut. I love Mick Jagger’s amplified harmonica on this number. It goes from simple to complex and the amp gives it that eerie Chicago blues sound. Keith Richards is playing the slide guitar on this one.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Probably the best known tune on “Let It Bleed” is “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Rolling Stone, magazine not the group, named this song as the 100th most popular song of all time. Strongly influenced by the production on The Beatles' hit “Hey Jude,” Mick Jagger sought out to create an epic recording for the Stones. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” has been featured in countless films and TV episodes. It strikes a chord with people – how about a C2 then an F then a C2 then an F.

The Mr. Jimmy in the lyrics is not Jimi Hendrix, but rather producer Jimmy Miller. Blood, Sweat, and Tears founder Al Kooper plays piano, organ, and French horn – which reportedly he learned to play for this session. Frankly, the song would not be the same without it and Jack Nitzsche’s arrangement for the London Bach Choir. Rocky Dijon adds the congas to the track which gives it nice feel during the up tempo portion. Charlie Watts was missing from this session and Jimmy Miller played the drums.

The Album in its Entirety

While my above features is limited to side two, the entire album is great and I provide a You Tube playlist that features the album from beginning to end. Enjoy one of my favorites. It kicks off with “Gimme Shelter” – another song that has been of late featured in many films and features the amplified harp of Mick Jagger.

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