Sunday, November 3, 2019


I'm going to argue that Let It Bleed is the very best Stones album. The other contenders are Exile On Main Street, Sticky Fingers and Beggars Banquet, all worthy, but for track-by-track excellence, I'll go with Let It Bleed. Plus the big highlight tracks, "Gimme Shelter," "Midnight Rambler" and "You Can't Always Get What You Want" all place within the all-time top ten for the band. Then add up the classic moments: Merry Clayton's vocal on "Gimme Shelter," Mick's scream of "I"m a monkey" in "Monkey Man," the choir on "You Can't Always Get What You Want." There's Keith's vocal on "You Got The Silver," his debut of that raspy blues-pirate persona, plus the arrival of the immensely talented Mick Taylor. There's country, blues, and country blues. Everything that makes up the pinnacle Stones period arrives for this album.

Once again, there is no new bonus material for this reissue, either on the single-disc set or the Super Deluxe version, as with the anniversary editions of Their Satanic Majesties Request and Beggars Banquet. It's due to the legal mess of the Allen Klein deal, which still gives the late businessman's ABKCO company rights to everything the group made during their tenure at Decca Records. No compromise has been found to open up the vaults to the many outtakes and alternates from this era (see the bootlegs). So for the big box, we get stereo and mono versions of the original album on both vinyl and CD, a replica single of "Honky Tonk Women", and a great big hardcover book with a new essay from David Fricke and tons of photos from Ethan Russell. Basically it's an art book. The single disc/LP has a shorter essay and the new remaster of the album, which does sound great, lots of space around solo parts such as the fiddle on "Country Honk."

Basically, it comes down to this: If your vinyl copy of Let It Bleed is old and scratched up, or your CD is an early, inferior pressing, it's time for a new one. If you can't live without every Super Deluxe boxed set, well, I'd like to have your wallet.

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