Friday, 30 December 2011

Tales from the turntable, part 2: The Rolling Stones - Beggars Banquet

The Rolling Stones is one of my favourite bands and that's why I choose them to open this series. Their album Beggars Banquet was released on 5th December 1968 and was their so called come back record after progressive Their Satanic Majesties Request. Many hate Satanic but I like that also. Not perhaps the top ten album but still very interesting. In May they released Jumpin' Jack Flash as a single and that was a signal what was to become later on that year. JJF is one of the best songs the Stones have recorded (thanks, Bill, for the riff). After many months of talks about what picture would be on the cover the LP was released with just creamy coloured layout with only text printed on it. My LP is an original UK print with blue (stereo) unboxed DECCA label, gatefolded covers and the code SKL4955. The opening song is a perfect opener: Sympathy For The Devil. It's very different with great lyrics and a smashing solo. That sealed the fate of The Stones as the bad boys of rock. They've performed this many times on stage and it also works well there. Second song is No Expectations about love that's not so hot anymore. Acoustic and laid back song with a bostin slide guitar. Third song is Dear Doctor which is a humour song of the LP. Hilarious lyrics. It's also perhaps the first song to hear Jagger sing in falsetto. And it's in waltz tempo! The third acoustic song in a row is Parachute Woman. It's raw bluesy song that's not long but very intense. Harmonica at the end is a great piece of work. The last song of the first side is Jig-Saw Puzzle. Nice lyrics with a laid back rhythm. This is not a well-known song and never included on the collection albums but still a great tune. The second side starts with acoustic power chords of Street Fighting Man which was mainly recorded through a Philips cassette recorder. This is also played regularly on stage. Great versions what I've heard but this studio version just has something in it. But think about Sir Mick today singing: "The time is right for palace revolution" and "I'll kill the king". He might lose his title :-) After this comes Prodigal Son. They performed this on stage during 1969-1970 and it was originally written by reverand Robert Wilkins but on this first issue album it was credited as Jagger/Richard song. Later prints corrected this. Nice catchy tune with a biblical tale. Then comes my perhaps favourite song from this LP: Stray Cat Blues. Just awsome heavy distorted guitars and brilliant drums with hi-hat beat, bass and piano by Nicky Hopkins. Lyrics are also very provocative as Mick sings: "I can see that you're fifteen years old". The live version of this song is more bluesy and slow tempo and the age was changed to 13. They can't sing that way anymore, can they? Of course they can. They're The Stones. After this heavy stuff comes a funny short song with a fiddle: Factory Girl. It's a filler but still quite nice. The album ends with a praise to a common man: Salt Of The Earth. Interesting song because it almost crosses the line of being horrible. It's a cliché song with cliché lyrics but still sounds very nice. First sentences are sung by Keith. The choir joins later on which makes it even more pompous. And it all fades away with a fast tempo drum, acoustic guitar and piano beat. This albums is perhaps the one that I'd take to a desert island. Many other great LP's by the Stones but if I have to choose one this would be it. And forget CD's, mp3's and such because LP sounds much much better. What makes this LP also special is that this is the last album where Brian Jones was still quite active (in Let It Bleed (1969) he only plays in couple of songs). In 1969 Brian was replaced by Mick Taylor who is a talented guitarist and they went to make more wonderful albums but that' s another story.

The Rolling Stones: Mick Jagger (vocals, harmonica), Keith Richards (guitar, bass), Brian Jones (guitar, sitar, mellotron, harmonica), Bill Wyman (bass, maracas) and Charlie Watts (drums, tabla). Unfortunately the sixth stone Ian Stewart didn't play on this. Additional musicians: Nicky Hopkins (piano), Rocky Dijon (congas), Ric Grech (fiddle), Dave Mason (mellotron, shehnai), Watts Street Gospel Choir, Jimmy Miller (backing vocals). Producer: Jimmy Miller. Engineers: Glyn Johns, Eddie and Gene.

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