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