The time had really come for The Rolling Stones to shine musically. There is so much brilliant and good material here, that not only it is a double album, but The Rolling Stones went into decline after this album as they could not match the material here. Still, it is a great rock album and a fine piece of history so let’s take a listen to this album and see what it sounds like.
We begin with Rocks Off which is a riff-heavy piece with Mick Jagger drawling and the sound of the song being very country sounding. This, from the go, is fantastic music. No doubt it has influenced many musicians down the road of history. Some great jazzy horn parts are here as well. The whole thing is fantastic to listen to. Sure, it’s not 1967 in musical delivery but it is just as good as the greatest rock albums from that era. A great way to begin a great album. The piano is really great as well here, as well as the guitar solo outro.
The next piece Rip This Joint is a song about mayhem amongst an original musical piece. A brilliant listening experience with a great focus and determination on the music here. Lyrically, it points to typical rock and roll mayhem and this song has a musical sense that is often forgotten today. The wailing sax no doubt may have influenced Pink Floyd in their musical adventure as well.
Shake Your Hips is an absolutely fantastic rhythm and blues sound from the beginning of the track. Mick Jagger sings over one of the most memorable rock music riffs in the history of the genre and instructs ladies to shake their hips only. It’s so uplifting in a positive way that you will bop along to this classic rock slice of genius. It’s deeply rooted in rock and roll tradition, so it is an essential listen. The harmonica here is minimal, yet brilliant as well.
Casino Boogie is a great piece for those who think a holiday to Las Vegas in the USA is a great idea. Even those who never gamble would find this fresh and inspired listening. It’s a great listen once again, with more sexy sounding saxophone lines and great melodies all around. The traditional rock and roll feel about it (mixing country and rhythm and blues) makes this song live with a burning passion. Very, very good indeed.
Following that we have another gambling song Tumbling Dice which sounds very country sounding. It keeps this music alive, and very different. The backing vocals are very much 1970s and are a great touch to the music here. This is outstanding work, sounding as though it was inspired by The Rolling Stones doing rock and roll mayhem. Great for those who love more traditional country and similar types of music. It fades out gloriously.
The next piece Sweet Virginia has beautiful acoustic guitar and harmonica to get stuck into your brain. There is a definitely country/blues feel to it. The rest of the band quickly follows into the mix. If you could ever spend a weekend driving around with friends on a road trip, this is one of the essential albums to bring along. Beautiful and amazing sounding. The sense of great groove and musical accomplishment is here too. A great listen. Very anthemic.
Torn And Frayed shows that this album is much more country-influenced than you’d expect, unusually for a fairly mainstream rock band such as The Rolling Stones. It’s a great listen with boogie style piano and a good mixture of sounds on the song. Nobody can do this sort of music except for The Rolling Stones themselves, and yes, they do this brilliantly. The 1970s was well and truly underway by this point. Great music. An inspiring listen.
Sweet Black Angel may refer to interracial sexual ways, but musically it is an interesting mish-mash of wonderfully plucked guitar, odd percussion, and very good quality vocals by Mick Jagger. There is some really good harmonica in this song too. A nice and gentle listen. A very good quality listen all the same.
The next song Loving Cup starts off with some great piano, before strummed acoustic guitar and Mick Jagger enter the scene. It’s rather explicit in some of its lyrics (no spoilers here, folks) and refers to some love based concepts. There is some precise drumming from drummer Charlie Watts here and horns aplenty. Another excellent piece. This album is consistent and will never bore you, although a lot of the songs sound very similar. Great stuff.
Next is Happy which is an uplifting song look at romanticism. Musically it is a great combination of pop sense and great rock melody. There is what seems to be some fuzz guitar (in a weird way) on here, as well as the usual musical accompaniment on this song. Although Keith Richards may seem like a drug user icon today, he is much better at being a great guitarist. Another great song.
Turd On The Run is a more traditional bluesy sounding piece, with expressive guitar playing and harmonica to match. Mick Jagger shouts and yelps throughout, with a great set of riffs and melodies to match. It’s very catchy and enjoyable listening to this day. A great and old school musical piece.
Ventilator Blues is a slow, blues-influenced piece about dirty deeds. There is another set of lush musical arrangements here: piano, sax, and slide guitar. Still, this is a consistent and awesome listen. There is no sense of ripping off other bands works here, it merely is an amazing and original piece to listen to. Great stuff, once again.
Next is the strange jam I Just Want To See His Face. It sounds pretty cool regardless, showing that The Rolling Stones could surprise you even on their best album. They were not merely a retro rock band of the 1960s, they have great little pieces of musical wonder throughout their career. This is one of them. Enjoyable. Mick Jagger’s vocal is heavily treated, as though he is singing in the shower. Great regardless.
After that, we have Let It Loose, which is a keyboard-driven ballad that does sound really quite beautiful. It’s a touching and interesting listen for our ears. Although The Rolling Stones were seen as bad boys of rock and roll, they made beautiful ballads too. An excellent effort, once again. Instead of a guitar solo, there is a beautiful saxophone part in the middle of the song. Excellent stuff. Charlie Watts drumming is really powerful as well. Some female soul singing in the background make this emotionally wonderful.
All Down The Line starts off with some expertly played guitar, before going into another good effort by The Rolling Stones. There is a fuzz guitar solo in this piece as well. The combination of melodic pop and out there rock and roll is exciting and entertaining, a rarity in today’s world. The band is really on top form here, an interesting and consistent listen. A good and well-crafted piece of music.
Stop Breaking Down has some raw, dirty rock riffs and some strange electronic sounds along with a piano part. This song is another good example of interesting music that The Rolling Stones could do. A mixture of fresh and inspired sounds of the time takes this somewhere beyond musical comprehension. It’s very good and a very bluesy inspired song. The mish-mash of slide guitar and piano towards the end is awesome.
Next is Shine A Light with its trippy guitar intro, then Mick Jagger and piano go into another very touching and memorable ballad. It has many musical layers to explore, much like the rest of the album. It’s a love song and a very good one at that. These guys were tame compared to the punk rockers that arrived later on in the decade. Brilliant song, all the same. Some cut up organ sounds here are very interesting to hear as well, in times before electronic gadgets.
The last track Soul Survivor is another old school rock and roll piece. A very good song to finish off the album and another overall good listen. Nobody does it like The Rolling Stones do, and this album is clearly a great one. It has a riff towards the end similar to Brown Sugar on the previous album as well.
This album is not just one of the greatest albums of all time, and The Rolling Stones best, but it is also a great starting point for classic rock listeners in general. Bands like Aerosmith, later on, were no doubt inspired by this music. You can see why because every track is brilliant here.