The Rolling Stones, despite releasing the poorly received Their Satanic Majesties Request album in the previous year, had to roll on. The hit and miss effect of that album gave them a refocused energy and they delivered this album in 1968. Admittedly, this one is widely perceived now to be a classic in rock history, so let’s have a listen to this album, see where it takes us.
We kick off with Sympathy For The Devil which begins with catchy bongo beats and singer Mick Jagger yelping. Lyrically, it is about said concept of the devil and Jesus Christ, an interesting subject for the time. It breaks into a great piano led piece and it gradually builds up to a great climax. The whole thing is superb, this is a dramatic improvement on the material of the previous album. The harmonies are really good here too. Rock music has rarely seemed so exciting as it is here, a really fantastic effort here by The Rolling Stones. A fun and enjoyable listen, regardless of what the lyrics mean. There are some fuzz guitar breaks here as well, which is interesting to hear. A good piece of music, a fun and entertaining listen.
Next is No Expectations which has strummed acoustic and slide guitar here that is really top notch. Mick Jagger sings about leaving a location forever and everything with it. It sounds remarkably optimistic, and this is an awe inspiring listen. It has some clanging, yet beautiful piano to hear as well. A focused listen, The Rolling Stones are well back on track here for success both commercially and critically. A gentle and calm listen throughout.
Dear Doctor is a great country influenced piece that is really good listening, complete with mock country singing and harmonica. Remember that back in the 1960s, there was a lot of country music, and no urban trends such as Rap music. Still, it is a yearning piece with an awesome acoustic guitar solo in it. The whole piece sounds very good and focused. There is a strange interjection with Mick Jagger mocking a lady’s voice to tell part of the story. Brilliant music here.
Parachute Woman is a strange and slightly psychedelic listen from The Rolling Stones. It has a heavily treated drum beat, excellent plucked acoustic guitar and some interesting bass guitar sounds. Short, at just over two minutes. But still, it is an excellent listen and worth your time, just like every other song on this album. The harmonica solo will blow your mind at the end. Nice tune.
Next is Jigsaw Puzzle which is an unusual sounding piece, although it has some killer slide guitar here. An original and refreshing tune. It has some strange lyrics, with The Rolling Stones playing semi-country music here. Still, an exciting and entertaining listen. The keyboard solo in this song is very good, and adds something a little different here. Some references to The Rolling Stones in the lyrics indirectly are here, a great song to hear, well over 50 years later. It is powerful and energetic listening here, the drumming is forefront here. Decent and good music is here. The piano at the end is awesome.
After that is the classic Street Fighting Man which is really upbeat, with sitar and punchy electric guitar. It is a defining song of The Rolling Stones, and was likely inspired by real life events. It is such a great listen, and has barely aged at all. A well thought out, punchy and energetic listening throughout. There are some unusual instruments in the mix here, and this is a top listen. A must hear.
Prodigal Son is a country music lover’s delight, biblical reference aside. It is a great and stomp like upbeat listening experience. The acoustic guitar playing here is wonderful, and the whole thing is very much rooted in USA musical history, although The Rolling Stones are from the UK. A short and awesome listen.
Stray Cat Blues is about sexual deeds of different sorts, which is interesting. The reference throughout to a girl being said stray cat is pretty cool. The track builds up progressively in volume and instrumentation, making this a suspenseful and strange listen. If anything, it sounds somewhat like The Velvet Underground, which is definitely unusual for the time. There are some good bongo beats and semi-beatboxing (would you believe?) towards the end, Syd Barrett style. A roaring guitar solo finishes this track off nicely.
Up next is Factory Girl which sounds a lot like something Led Zeppelin later would do on their recordings. Mick Jagger sings about said factory girl, of whom he is waiting a long time to see. There is some country-esque fiddle here too. It bursts into a frenetic and charged jam which is short and sweet. Good song.
Lastly we have Salt Of The Earth which starts with strummed acoustic guitar and a good bunch of melodic instrumentation here. It is a good song to finish the album with, and is high charged with melody and rhythm to impress you. A good listen with piano, slide guitar and banging drums. There are some gospel backing vocals here too. All in all, a great song and a good conclusion to a great album. It goes into a frenzy towards the end, driven by sped up drumming from Charlie Watts.
This is another classic album delivered by The Rolling Stones and is not just memorable, but a worthy addition to your collection, even if you are not a huge fan of The Rolling Stones. Here, they resumed their spot as some of the best rock and roll musicians of the time, and this album does very well to show that.