Album no. 107/1001
Here we go, the first proper Stones classic. This has got a couple of their best-known tracks on it, ‘Sympathy For the Devil’ and ‘Street Fighting Man’, and the other songs are pretty good as well.
This is the Stones follow up to 1967’s Their Satanic Majesties Delight, which was their go at a more ‘psychedelic’, sitar-y sound’.
Keith Richards said later “I’d grown sick to death of the whole Maharishi guru shit and the beads and bells. So it was ‘Right we’ll go and strip this thing down’. There’s a lot of anger in the music from that period”.
Brian Jones was still in the band at this point, but he was on the way out. It’s disputed how much he actually plays on this album, and the other members are all quoted as saying that even when he did turn up he was not much use (“He was a pain in the arse, quite honestly”).
Have you listened to this album before?
CL: No! But NK is quite right – there are some good songs that I know on here.
NK: BEST BELIEVE.
CL: You’ve also hyped the shit out of this, so I don’t know how to feel.
NK: HOW CAN I CHOOSE? I think the best song on this might be ‘Stray Cat Blues’, which is an impossibly sleazy blues rocker. The guitars are all over the shop, but the piano is secretly the best thing on it. I really like the end of this song, it tricks you into thinking it’s building back to the hook, but it just fades out as they keep ramping up. Weird.
CL: Ok, so it’s important to note firstly that YOU WERE INDEED CORRECT TO HYPE THIS NO END. WOW. Where do I begin? ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ is a cracker of an opener, and nearly every song after is just as good. Gosh, ‘No Expectations’ and ‘Jigsaw Puzzle’ are GREAT AREN’T THEY? Even though I don’t know what a ‘Parachute Woman’ is, that song’s banging as well. I can even get around ‘Dear Doctor’.
NK: I used to really like ‘Jigsaw Puzzle’ as well, I think this is another album where your favourite song can change with more listens.
When would be the best time to listen to this?
CL: I can tell you from personal experience that putting ‘Street Fighting Man’ on in your car whilst driving along in rural surroundings is probably the best way to listen.
NK: This album is really sleazy. The vocals, the slide guitars, the barroom piano, every song seems to be just a touch too slow, like you’re walking through water.
Why has this album been included on the list?
NK: This is the Rolling Stones really hitting their stride. It’s got a couple of their best known tracks, a couple of gems tucked away, and no bad songs on it. Also it sounds amazing, especially compared with the other Stones albums we’ve caught so far. There’s more bottom end to everything, and that really helps the piano and the slide guitars. Every instrument on this sounds WAY better than on Aftermath. Plus there are more good songs.
CL: I think I’m finally getting why everybody continually raves on about them. I mean, I liked the other albums we’ve heard (some more than others) but I was surprised people got so excited. NOW I GET IT. It’s so cohesive – it’s not a concept album or anything – but the songs all hang together and make for an EXCELLENT listening experience.
Will you be listening again?
CL: I already have, about three times. This is an absolutely stone cold classic, and there haven’t been too many on this list thus far.
NK: I’ve got it on as I’m typing this sentence, I’ll hear it a few more times, don’t you worry about that.
Listen to Beggars Banquet on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.