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The Rolling Stones – Let it Bleed (1969) & Sticky Fingers (1971)

October 26, 2013

[Albums 252 & 253/1001]

The only thing more difficult than starting a post about The Beatles or The Stones is doing so without asking the inevitable question:

Beatles or Stones?

The music world’s great debate is like picking a favourite child – an unfair decision at best!220px-LetitbleedRS

Though for years, I thought the choice was obvious (or ‘obvi’ as the kids say): The Fab Four, no contest.  My favourite record (The Beatles), a few others in/around the top 10 (Abbey Road, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper), my favourite bassist (McCartney), and the world’s best songwriting tandem (Lennon/McCartney, even if they weren’t really working together at the end).

Though in recent years, the gap has narrowed considerably.  It’s not that I’ve lost interest in the Liverpudlians, it’s just the Stones’ stock is rising.

Great essay writing/presentation advice?  Start & finish strong.  Even if the middle drags, if you start with confidence and end with a bang, that will be the lasting impression.  Few opening tracks match the excellence of Gimme Shelter and I can’t think of another closer quite like You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

Years ago, a music savvy friend crowned Gimme Shelter the best song of all time.  There is plenty of supporting evidence: the spectacular percussion, the stellar female backup vocals, the killer intro that even my inability to play it on Rock Band can not diminish.  I’d still put a couple 5-letter track names (Lucky, Grace) ahead of it on the all time list but I’d agree it’s the best tune with a Jagger/Richard songwriting credit.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want makes for a great intro to the Economics topic of scarcity (as does Satisfaction), so I’ll be forever grateful to The Stones for those lesson plans!220px-RSSF71

Fortunately, the rest of Let it Bleed is also pretty solid.  Midnight Rambler (perhaps fittingly) lacks direction but I quite enjoy the acoustic country rock/blues feel throughout the middle seven tracks.  Country Honk (or at least its less country companion Honky Tonk Women) made an appearance in Stephen King’s great 11/22/63, so that one stood out for me due to the positive time travel association.

Sticky Fingers doesn’t have as strong a finish, but what a start!  The opening triple salvo of Brown Sugar, Sway, Wild Horses may have surpassed The Joshua Tree‘s 1-2-3 in my books, Sway being the best of the bunch here.

Lining up Let it Bleed/Sticky Fingers/Exile on Main Street against any consecutive trio of Beatles records would be a much more level playing field than I would have expected at the beginning of the 1001 project.

But why choose?

Beady Eye provides the definitive answer to the great music debate: Beatles AND Stones.

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From → 1960s, 1970s

12 Comments
  1. Wait — kids say “obvi” now. Are we too lazy for a third syllable?

    Anyway, two great albums right here. I’m not the biggest Stones fan in the world but I do feel these are two of their better records. My favourite might be Some Girls, I don’t know, so hard to pick.

  2. It’s kind of like comparing whiskey and wine. Either one will get you there, it’s just that one got a lot more bite going down. Nice post

  3. I love that King’s books always reference pop culture. I sometimes have a harder time with the pop culture references in his older books (Carrie, Cujo) because I am too young to get them. I really enjoy when I see music in his books. Did you ever read his EW pop culture articles he used to write a few years back? They were great and he would mention music… speaking of.. he also has a radio station in Maine if you didn’t know. This is it here: http://www.wkitfm.com/ OK… I got on a King tangent!

    • Hey, Stephen King tangents are certainly encouraged here! I haven’t read any of those but that radio station sounds promising – his writing seems so effortless, I’d be interested in hearing him on the radio.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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