December 5: Rolling Stones Let it Bleed was released in 1969 45 years ago


“Rape, murder, it’s just a shot away, it’s just a shot away.”

Rolling Stones Let it Bleed 1969

Let It Bleed is the eighth British and tenth American album by  The Rolling Stones, released 5th December 1969. Released shortly after the band’s 1969 American Tour, it is the  last album by the band to feature Brian Jones as well as the first to feature Mick Taylor.

Released 5 December 1969
Recorded November 1968, February–November 1969, Olympic Studios, London, England
Genre Blues rock, rock and roll, hard rock
Length 42:13
Language English
Label London (US), Decca (UK)
Producer Jimmy Miller

It is part of the holy quartet: Exile on Main St., Beggars Banquet, Let it Bleed and Sticky Fingers. Rightfully considered the best albums in The Rolling Stones’ discography.

It begins with a storming howl, then come shouts about murder and rape, throwing away all conventions. Gimme Shelter, the best song the Stones ever recorded – it’s a force of nature so powerful comparable to no song released before or after. It drips cool and burns with bluesy hellfire.

Gimme Shelter (first performance?):

Let It Bleed was recorded as the 1960s were collapsing.

“No rock record, before or since, has ever so completely captured the sense of palpable dread that hung over its era.” – Stephen Davis, biographer.

Gimme Shelter (fantastic version from 2003):

Although they had begun the recording of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” in November 1968, before Beggars Banquet had been released, recording for Let It Bleed began in earnest in February 1969 and would continue sporadically until early November.

Brian Jones performs on only two tracks, playing the autoharp on “You Got the Silver”, and percussion on “Midnight Rambler”. His replacement, Mick Taylor, plays guitar on two tracks, “Country Honk” and “Live With Me”.

Keith Richards, who had already shared vocal duties with Mick Jagger on “Connection”, “Something Happened to Me Yesterday” and “Salt of the Earth”, sang his first solo lead vocal on a Rolling Stones recording with “You Got the Silver”.

Let It Bleed track listing:
1. Gimme Shelter
2. Love In Vain
3. Country Honk
4. Live With Me
5. Let It Bleed
6. Midnight Rambler
7. You Got The Silver
8. Monkey Man
9. You Can’t Always Get What You Want

By Greil Marcus for Rolling Stone Magazine
December 27, 1969

 Let It Bleed is the last album by the Stones we’ll see before the Sixties, already gone really, become the Seventies; it has the crummiest cover art since Flowers, with a credit sheet that looks like it was designed by the United States Government Printing Office (all courtesy of the inflated Robert Brownjohn), and the best production since, well, “Honky Tonk Women.” The music has tones that are at once dark and perfectly clear, while the words are slurred and often buried for a stronger musical effect. The Stones as a band and Jagger and Mary Clayton and Keith Richards and Nanette Newman and Doris Troy and Madelaine Bell and the London Bach Choir as singers carry the songs past “lyrics” into pure emotion. There’s a glimpse of a story — not much more. And like Beggars’ Banquet, Let It Bleed has the feel of Highway 61 Revisited.

On songs like “Live With Me,” “Midnight Rambler,” and “Let It Bleed,” the Stones prance through all their familiar roles, with their Rolling Stones masks on, full of lurking evil, garish sexuality, and the hilarious and exciting posturing of rock and roll Don Juans. On “Monkey Man” they grandly submit to the image they’ve carried for almost the whole decade, and then crack up digging it: “All my friends are junkies! (That’s not really true…)” And there are other songs, hidden between the flashier cuts, waiting for the listener to catch up with them: the brilliant revival of Robert Johnson’s exquisite “Love In Vain,” and Keith Richards’ haunting ride through the diamond mines, “You Got the Silver.”

And yet it’s the first and last of Let It Bleed that seem to matter most. The frightening desperation of “Gimme Shelter” and the confused frustration of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” give the lie to the bravado of “Midnight Rambler” or “Live With Me.” Not that those songs don’t work — they do, of course, as crunching, soaring dreams of conquest and pop supremacy. They’re great numbers. But “Gimme Shelter” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” both reach for reality and end up confronting it, almost mastering what’s real, or what reality will feel like as the years fade in. It’s a long way from “Get Off My Cloud” to “Gimme Shelter,” a long way from “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” (Read the rest here)


Truly one of the greatest albums ever made!

– Hallgeir

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