... this would be it.
Recently, a friend of mine asked me to tape the best Stones albums for him and, of course, the absolute essentials of the Stones albums are their Big Five: "Between the Buttons," "Beggars," "Let it Bleed," "Sticky Fingers" and the piece de resistance: "Exile on Main Street."
But in going through them all, I found myself paying more attention to "Beggars," which I usually throw over in favor of its big city cousin, "Let it Bleed," and which is arguably the one of the five I listen to the least.
What an incredibly strange album for the Stones to have releaed in 1968. Yes there's lots of typical Stonesian stuff here ("Sympathy," "Stay Cat Blues," "Jig-Saw Puzzle") but clearly, "Satanic Majesties" purged them of their urge to be trendily psychedelic because this is an album full of acoustic and steel guitars, stocked with jugs of Jagger's acre-broad drawl. And, yes, it wasn't unusual to see an electric band head into acoustic territory in the late 60s but still... the year after the summer of love, what did people make of fashion plates like the Stones recording material along the lines of "Dear Doctor" and "Prodigal Son" ?
Founding member Brian Jones may have been in a holding pattern over Heathrow at the time, but fortunately other ingredients coagulated: Jimmy Miller's chunky production, the session playing of Nicky Hopkins and Ry Cooder, and influences on Keith Richards, who was clearly listening to lots of diverse blues and R&B records at the time.
Strange, beautiful record. I've started listening to it in my shower-stall CD player in the mornings and it sounds just like a cold beer with breakfast after a late night.