Thursday, September 11, 2014

26 The Joshua Tree (1987) U2

1. Where the Streets Have No Name
2. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
3. With or Without You
4. Bullet the Blue Sky
5. Running to Stand Still
6. Red Hill Mining Town
7. In God's Country
8. Trip Through Your Wires
9. One Tree Hill
10. Exit
11. Mothers of the Disappeared

This is supposed to be my favourite U2 album. It's their highest ranked entry on this list and it's held up as their finest moment. It's the album with the most recognizable U2 sound and has most of the tracks that people think of when U2 is mentioned. Only Achtung Baby rivals it for popular appeal.

But neither is nearly as good as Rattle and Hum which I'm supposed to hate. Everyone keeps trying to tell me that Rattle and Hum is a huge disappointment and the Irish Quartet's worst hour. At best it's a phase they had to go to in order to get to Achtung from Joshua, it's a point on a map that should be marked but not stopped at.


Rattle and Hum might be a mess with it's cover versions, live tracks and odd interjections by other artists but song for song it's their best release. Desire, Hawkmoon 269, Angel of Harlem, Love Rescue Me, Heartland, God Part II, All I want is you and When Love Comes to Town are the strongest collection of songs U2 have ever included on any release. And unlike Joshua Tree and most of the rest of their albums, they're not padded out with half-hearted filler. The covers and live tracks are all fantastic as well.

Joshua Tree on the other hand suffers from the same malaise that strikes a lot of U2 albums: a few fantastic hits but a lot of fairly forgettable filler material. The filler might possibly be stronger than on previous or future albums but it suffers from a tracklisting that highlights, rather than conceals the lesser songs. The first five tracks on Joshua Tree are far away the best songs on the album: Where the streets have no name is a rousing anthem, I still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For is a powerful ballad as is With or Without You. Bullet the Blue Sky is so scary it's good and so good it's scary and Running to Stand Still is the perfect low key antidote to Bullet's terrifying imagery.

But from there things kind of slip away slightly. The rest of the album isn't terrible but there's nothing much on side two that would have made someone keen to flip their vinyl copy over. I wonder how many people who bought this when it first came out just returned the needle to the start of Side One to hear the hits again rather than spent time listening to an entire side of near misses.

There's still a lot to like all through the Joshua Tree. Bono has a great voice and the band manage to create a unique sound which is unmistakeably U2. It's great stuff but to my mind nothing near as good as Rattle and Hum, which not only presents a stronger set of songs, it takes tracks like Bullet the Blue Sky from this album and transforms them into something even more fantastic.

It's cool not to like U2 any more but you can't deny the strong songs on Joshua Tree are fantastic rock and roll and unlike so much that was recorded in 1987, it's dated extremely well. But if you haven't heard it in it's entirety I'm not sure you need to rush out and grab it. Just put on the radio and the good songs will be along before lunchtime.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I once wrote a song called "Dave Evans Must Die" because the music here is so boring."

-I'm not sure we care what songs you wrote do we? I don't think we do.

So is this their best or not? Let me know below.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

27 King of the Delta Blues singers (1961) Robert Johnson

1. Cross Road Blues
2. Terraplane Blues
3. Come on in My Kitchen
4. Walking Blues
5. Last Fair Deal Gone Down
6. 32-20 Blues
7. Kindhearted Woman Blues
8. If I Had Possession over Judgement Day
9. Preaching Blues (Up Jumped the Devil)
10. When You Got a Good Friend
11. Rambling on My Mind
12. Stones in My Passway
13. Traveling Riverside Blues
14. Milkcow's Calf Blues
15. Me and the Devil Blues
16. Hellhound on My Trail

King of the Delta Blues Singers is one of those albums that we can point to and credit with forming Rock and Roll as we know it. It's one of those few LP's that we can justifiably hold up and say "music changed because of this. It was different before and never the same again afterwards".

King of the Delta Blues Singers was released in 1961 and eventually found its way into the hands of the generation that helped to shape Rock and Roll. Dylan heard it and was amazed at Johnson's ability to make a melody so compelling. Eric Clapton listened and suddenly knew what he wanted to do with his life. Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were both huge fans as were Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Peter Green and Jimi Hendrix. Pretty much all the greats on this list had their world turned upside down when they heard this album and realised how powerful music could be.

Before these songs were collected together into an LP, many of them had life as old 78's and it's these recordings which were owned by the likes of Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon and informed their songwriting and attitude. You might not be able to say Lennon and McCartney were directly influenced by Johnson but those who influenced them were.

Good luck finding King of the Delta Blues Singers however. As an album it's been entirely and utterly superseded by The Complete Recordings which takes this release, its follow up and everything else Johnson has done and compiles them on two CD's. It is literally the complete recorded works of Johnson and includes every song he wrote, including alternate versions.

It's a pity that King of the Delta Blues Singers isn't around any more because it does serve as a great introduction to the great man's greatest work. The Complete Recordings, with its multiple duplications, is a bit much for many and K of the DBS serves as a good introduction to those who want to know what the fuss is about without having to hear two versions of the same song with slight variation.

Speaking of the fuss. There is a reason people make a fuss over Robert Johnson. He's definitely fussworthy. He sings as if he means every word. When he sings Hellhound on my Tail you really believe there's a demonic hound chasing the guy. He puts feeling into every note he sings and makes you feel the music in a way that at times can be downright unsettling.

The guitar that Johnson holds in one of the few photographs we have of him is battered and beaten up and when you hear him play you can see why. Johnson isn't just an idle chord strummer, he picks that thing and punishes it and makes it suffer in the way he's suffered himself. Johnson has the blues and he's sure as hell going to give them to his guitar as well.

The songs on King might not be familiar to you in their original form but if you're a fan of classic rock from the sixties and seventies you'll know a lot of them when you hear them. Crossroad Blues became Crossroads as played by Cream and shredded by Eric Clapton in his most famously ferocious guitar work out. Clapton would later give a much more sedate reading of Walkin Blues on his famous Unplugged album and would also cover Ramblin on my mind as his first ever lead vocal performance when he was a Bluesbreaker. Come on in my Kitchen was covered most notably by George Harrison in The Concert For Bangladesh, Travelling Riverside Blues was given a reading by Led Zeppelin and 32-30 Blues was covered by Bob Dylan.

Every song on this album has had countless run throughs in blues clubs all over the world and people will still be peeling off versions long after we've all forgotten who most of today's big name acts are. Johnson has become more than artist, he's part of our musical framework and something that we will always return to. You may never have heard the guy sing but if you're listening to music recorded after 1950 then his spirit is in there somewhere speaking to every note you're hearing. He was, and always will be, the King of the Delta Blues Singers.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I was looking for some good easy listening tunes. This collection my well have historical significance for music students, but doesn't give me any kind of pleasure. I tried each selection and found voice and style grading not entertaining."

-Well who the hell told you that Robert Johnson was what you were looking for? Nobody who has ever heard Johnson sing has described him as easy listening.

Friday, August 29, 2014

28 Who's next (1971) The Who

1. Baba O'Riley
2. Bargain
3. Love Ain't for Keeping
4. My Wife
5. The Song Is Over
6. Getting in Tune
7. Going Mobile
8. Behind Blue Eyes
9. Won't Get Fooled Again

It's not easy for a band to reinvent themselves. Many have tried to shed their original image and develop a new one and fallen out of favour with the fans and everyone else. There are some that can pull it off but most have had a bash and then returned to their original genre with their tail between their legs.

Who's Next isn't a total reinvention, it's not a Metal Band playing bluegrass but it's definitely a risky new direction for The Who. They'd started life as a Mod Band playing pop songs that weren't too far removed from early Beatles records. Then they started to become obsessed with Rock Operas and started delivering overblown and overproduced thematic nonsense. Then suddenly they started listening to Led Zeppelin.

The Who used to boast about being the loudest band in the world but hearing Zeppelin would have made them realise that they had well and truly lost the title. Townshend dropped the idea he was working on (which was apparently another lamentable rock opera) and instead decided to take the songs he was going to try and weave into a convoluted narrative and just put out an album that rocked.

And boy does Who's Next rock.

Member for member there was more talent in The Who than in any other quartet going around at the time. Daltrey's voice is an incredibly powerful instruments, Townshend is an under rated guitar player, Entwhistle was one of the great bass players and Moon is just a monster on the drums. When they were all at their peak they were untouchable and the four of them were definitely at their peak on Who's Next. On songs like Bargain, The Who are just a massive and scary four-headed power beast that blows away all the competition. Moon's drumming is enough to generate not just complaints from the neighbours but from the neighbouring nation. There must have been people in France shouting "tourner que vers le bas!" (thanks Google Translate) and worried that their houses were shaking. Its ferocious stuff and light years away from La La La Lies which graced their first album.

There's gold all over Who's Next. Baba O'Rieley and Behind Blue Eyes are powerhouse tracks which will blow you out of your seat and plaster you satisfied to the opposite wall. Both tracks benefit from deceptively low key introductions, Baba with it's repetitive synth chords and Blue Eyes with its acoustic strumming, before they both quickly kick up a notch. I'm hard pressed to pick my favourite out of the two of them but if you twisted my arm and demanded I made a decision I'd pick Behind Blue Eyes if only for the line "And if I swallow anything evil, put your finger down my throat" which is one of the best things anyone has written ever and delivered perfectly by Daltry who sounds like he's swallowed a lot of evil things in his time and is gagging at the memory.

The album ends on his highest note with the wondorously magnificent Won't Get Fooled Again which is 8 and a half minutes of rock perfection which must have had every other band in the world wondering who they had to sell their soul to in order to sound like that. I highly recommend hearing Won't Get Fooled Again in it's full album length (not the edited single version) and on the best stereo you can get your hands on. Moon is just incredible on drums and the whole song is full of pounding beats and fills which are worth hearing on their own and not just as a means of keeping time. Entwhistle's bass is thunderous and Townshend's guitar manages to claim its fair share of attention in amongst everything else that's going on. It's brilliant stuff and the sound of a band of happy mods who have reinvented themselves into the soundtrack for the apocalypse.

Who's next isn't a perfect album. For some reason Townshend decided to handle some of the vocal duties himself which it has to be said was a bit of a mistake. It's fine in a song like Bargain but on The Song is Over it's impossible not to wish Daltrey was singing the entire thing. Tonshend has an okay but limited voice but Rog has a sensational set of lungs and can lay claim to being one of the best lead singers a band has ever had. He should be the first choice for any Who vocal.

If I was in charge I'd also ditch John Entwhistle's My Wife for one of the superior outtakes which dropped from the running time to accommodate it. Don't you Do it or Pure and Easy would have been a much better addition.

But these are fairly minor quibbles. Who's Next is the best thing the Who ever released and one of the best albums of 1971. It's full-strength rock and roll played at an incredible volume by incredibly talented people. If you love Zeppelin and think the Who are all Magic Bus and The Kids are Alright you should check out Who's Next. It will make you a convert.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "On revisting this album after some 15 years I was surprised to find that it had not grown on me at all. I have a wisteria on my wall that has shown more promise in that department. "

-This is the only mention of a wisteria in a review of a Who album. I can't pretend I've read every single one of course but I'm still fairly confident that it's true.

So did you buy this album? Was it a Bargain or did it leave you swearing you won't get fooled again by the Who? Let me know below

Thursday, August 21, 2014

29 Led Zeppelin (1969) Led Zeppelin

1. Good Times Bad Times
2. Babe I'm Gonna Leave You
3. You Shook Me
4. Dazed and Confused
5. Your Time Is Gonna Come
6. Black Mountain Side [Instrumental]
7. Communication Breakdown
8. I Can't Quit You Baby
9. How Many More Times

It's worth taking a minute or two to admire the guts of Jimmy Page. People revere him as a guitarist, and it's right that they should, but he's much more than just one of a bunch of great players of a Fender stratocaster or Les Paul. Jimmy Page created Led Zeppelin and their legacy in a way that few people have created a band before. He's more than just a guitar-slinger, he's a band leader, producer and visionary with no shortage of chutzpah (a word I'm happy to type but don't have enough chutzpah to actually try and say).

Page created Led Zeppelin out of the ruins of The Yardbirds, a band he was in until the rest of the line up decided they weren't in it with him. The Yardbirds fell apart completely leaving Page with rights to the name but nobody to play with. He immediately set about assembling a band and called on John Paul Jones, a bass player he'd done a lot of session work with. He chose Robert Plant after checking him out in a tiny club gig and being amazed at his abilities. Apparently Page's initial reluctance to sign him up was because he felt anyone that talented who wasn't famous must have been incredibly hard to work with. Plant recommended Bonham on drums and the band had a try out and apparently gelled immediately and went on a tour of Scandinavia as The New Yardbirds to fulfil an outstanding contract.

When they returned Page decided to get a recording contract but rather than audition for record executives he paid for studio time out of his own pocket. The first Led Zeppelin album was funded and produced entirely by Page without any record executives looking over his shoulder telling him what he should or shouldn't do. He mixed the tapes and then strode boldly into Atlantic and said "Listen to this". They fell over themselves and decided to sign up the band for a huge advance and were prepared to give Page unprecedented levels of control over future Led Zeppelin albums.

When Page's first band collapsed he had the guts to back his own abilities and assemble other players who could accomplish his vision and then direct them as their leader. Then he had the temerity to back himself and tell a record company what terms he would let them sign him up with. That's some fairly gutsy play in my book.

While he had a lot of skills, it could be argued that one of them wasn't really songwriting. As others are quick to point out, the majority of Led Zeppelin is made up of blues covers, several of which aren't fully attributed to the original artists who deserve a song-writing credit. Even Dazed and Confused, which for many is Zep's signature tune, owe's a huge debt to a song by Jake Holmes. He's also overstated his credit for Babe I'm Gonna Leave You, You Shook Me, I can't Quite you Baby and How Many More Times and been called out for it several times. He's been called a plagiarist although Page probably prefers to be called an interpreter if he bothers responding to the charge at all.

Regardless of who wrote the songs in their original form, Page can take credit for turning them into hard edged rock and roll. He's the one who took Dazed and Confused and gave it the grunt and the power. He's the guy who decided to play a guitar solo with a violin bow and to make the whole thing into a proto-Heavy metal odyssey. He's the one who told the others how to play and sat behind the control deck and then the mixing desk. He called the shots and made sure they were big booming shots that the whole world heard.

Led Zeppelin 1 (as this is often called) is fantastic and we owe credit to Page for making his vision real. The rest of the band are brilliant at what they do but we should thank Jimmy P for having an idea and turning into a barnstorming reality.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "In fact, Led Zepplin is ALREADY forgoten -- NOBODY in my hi school has ever hear of them, or any song they've ever done."

-This is clearly nonsense. There are kids rocking to Led Zeppelin at every high school in the English speaking world.

So does this go down like a Led Zeppelin for you? Let me know below.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

30 Blue (1971) Joni Mitchell

1. All I Want
2. My Old Man
3. Little Green
4. Carey
5. Blue
6. California
7. This Flight Tonight
8. River
9. A Case of You
10. The Last Time I Saw Richard

A lot of people tell me that they really like Bob Dylan as a songwriter but can't stand him as a performer. They'll list their favourite Dylan songs but point out that the versions they like are all covers. They like Hendrix's Watchtower or Adele's To Make you Feel My Love but they can't stand the originals.

I've never understood this view myself because I love Dylan's voice but it's exactly the way I feel about Joni Mitchell. There are songs on this album that I really love and adore but not in their original incarnation. I've got a version of the Indigo Girls doing River which is just fantastic. One of my favourite things ever is a version of A Case of You as performed by Tori Amos. Irish balladeer Luka Bloom does a rendition of Urge For Going (recorded for this album but dropped at the last minute) which is just sensational. But the original versions are things that I'd really rather not hear again.

I just have a huge problem with Joni's voice. She's talented but she has a vocal style which I can only describe as "irritating". Most Mitchell songs follow a fairly predictable pattern. She uses her fairly deep and almost conversational tone for a bit and the suddenly swoops off into the higher registers for a while as she leaps about from note to note hitting them all but making you wish she'd drop about half of them. Then suddenly she's back to chatty deep voice but you know she's only readying herself for another opportunity to fling her voice skywards once again.

It's an approach that really takes its toll on my patience pretty quickly and I have to say an entire album of Joni being Joni gets pretty grating after a while. In fact it quickly becomes extremely painful to listen to as Mitchell seems to take each track and use it as a platform to prove what an impressive register she's got. As each song progressed I wanted her to calm down, take a deep breath and just sing the tune she'd written. I know when Emily Saliers and Tori Amos do it there's real beauty there but Joni seems to have a total disregard for the songs she's written. It's almost as if she wrote them at home and performed them to herself a few times and now she's bored with them and feels the need to play with them to entertain herself in the studio.

It's not hard to respect Mitchell, or at least it wasn't before she recently affected a transformation into a bitter and cranky old lady. She writes a really nice song, her lyrics are brilliant and she's an under rated guitarist and piano player. She also surrounds herself with a collection of talented friends. She might have broken up with Graham Nash when she recorded Blue but she was still capable of hanging around with his good friend Stephen Stills. And anything Stills plays on is immediately better for his presence.

Listening to Blue made me want to appreciate it as a piece of songwriting without  Joni's voice to put me off. So I jumped on youtube and started listening to cover versions of the pretty much the entire tracklisting. There are some very talented people out there doing some great covers of Mitchell's songs and listening to them makes you realise that she could write a great tune.

I'm not saying Mitchell is a bad singer, far from it, she's definitely a talent, but she has a style that just sets my teeth on edge and prevents me from enjoying her work, at least in its original form. I'll keep enjoying the Indigo Girls playing River and Tori Amos singing A Case of You but I won't feel the need to return to Joni herself anytime soon. I'm glad she exists but I'm glad she's avoidable.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "This album is so overrated. This album is actually 2.75 out of 5 not 3. "

-I love people who feel the need to qualify their rating with fractions. A five star rating system isn't enough for this guy, in fact a 10 star system isn't enough either (he'd need to tell us it was 5.5. He needs a twenty star system so he can give it the 11 stars it deserves.

So does this make you blue or see red? Let me know below.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

31 Bringing it all back home (1965) Bob Dylan

1. Subterranean Homesick Blues
2. She Belongs to Me
3. Maggie's Farm
4. Love Minus Zero/No Limit
5. Outlaw Blues
6. On the Road Again
7. Bob Dylan's 115th Dream
8. Mr. Tambourine Man
9. Gates of Eden
10. It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
11. It's All over Now, Baby Blue

Now we're all grown up and Dylan is in his seventies and rock music has matured we can look back at Bob's career and judge every album on its merits. We're no longer trying to put him in a box, label him with a stamp or make him the sole possession of a certain musical faction. We don't need to worry about whether he's lost to us or coming back to us or turned his back on this or embraced that. We don't need to worry about what their new direction is for their creator because they're markers on a journey we've seen plotted out, not signposts to an uncertain future. We can sit down and just enjoy each Dylan album for what it is.

Using this knowledge we know that Self Portrait is still pretty bad but was a minor aberration, the Born Again albums aren't as bad as everyone thought they were and the eighties albums are actually worse. And it frees us up to listen to Bringing it All back home as an album not a bold and terrifying new direction.

The biggest songs on Bringing it all back home are probably Maggies Farm, Tambourine Man and Subterranean Homesick blues, or at least they're the songs that people who don't consider themselves Dylan fans would probably know. Of course like a lot of Dylan songs they probably don't know the originals as much as they know the popular covers. Tambourine Man was a huge hit for The Byrds and Maggies Farm was an obligatory hit for any self respecting Punk Band playing in Thatcher's Britain during the eighties.

Those who consider themselves casual Dylan fans would probably know Love Minus Zero/No Limit, It's allright ma I'm only bleeding and It's all over now Baby Blue all of which don't get the radio airplay or the publicity that the others do but are by no means lesser songs. It's Allright Ma is often cited as one of his best songs and I'm inclined to agree. It's not a pretty listen like Blowin in the Wind and it doesn't get covered by popular artists but it's incredibly powerful. It still amazes me to this day that anyone could hear Bringing it All Back Home and be disappointed, as many die hard folkies were back in 1965. They might have heard electric instruments on side one and lamented a lack of obvious protest songs but how could they not love this? It's alright Ma is incredibly dark and spooky but it's lyrics are just unbelievable and incredibly dense. You can spend years listening to it and still hear new things as its incredible series of words and images takes you by surprise every time.

To me the best example of the genius of Dylan however are among the overlooked and lesser known tracks. She Belongs to Me flies under the radar of a lot of people. It doesn't get played on the radio and it rarely makes anyone's list of top Dylan tracks but it's fantastic. It might sound like a love song but it's so much more. It's got some great Dylan lines which you can ponder for ages and still get a lot out of. I personally love: "She never stumbles, She’s got no place to fall" which for me is a fantastic piece of lyric writing. She Belongs to Me is also a track that I suggest people listen to if they claim Dylan can't sing. If they're caught up in their own warbly Dylan impressions and believe his vocals are all nasal expeditions up and down the register in the course of one song I suggest they give this a listen. It's proof that Dylan can not only hold a tune he can cradle it lovingly which makes the lyrics all the better.

Bringing it All Back Home is not a perfect album but with the power of CD burning and the accessibility of out takes it's easy to make it one. I drop Bob Dylan's 115th Dream from the running order (which is too long and loses its novelty value too quickly) and instead include three outtakes which were considered but not recorded. Farewell Angelina, If You Gotta Go, Go Now (Or Else You Got to Stay All Night) and I'll Keep It With Mine all deserve to be rescued from obscurity. They're brilliant songs and their presence here would lift this album from outside the top thirty to inside the top ten.

Bringing it all Back Home is the sound of Bob Dylan tearing down his own legend but creating an even greater one in the process. It's the greatest and most influential recording artist of the past fifty years proving he didn't need popular causes and a sub-culture's adoration to prop him up but he wasn't going to let them hold him back either. If it was recorded by any other solo artist it would be their highest ranked appearance on this countdown. Bob has three others higher than this which just goes to show how amazing he is.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Never say that one Dylan album is your favorite over another. You always have to change your mind."

-Possibly the truest thing ever said on Amazon. Amen brother.

So are you glad Bob brought it all home or do you wish he left it wherever the hell it was? I mean where are we even going to put it it? Seriously Bob, hire a shed or something, sheesh... sorry I got sidetracked. Just let me know below.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

32 Let it Bleed (1969) The Rolling Stones

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

It's not often I can say this but there isn't a single dud track on this album. There isn't a flat spot on the entire release and not a weak moment in its entire running length. It's gold from start to finish and proof that The Rolling Stones were the best band in the world as the sixties gave way to the seventies and they had a magnificent run of albums which nobody has managed to top since.

The weakest song on Let it Bleed is Monkey Man which is fantastic. Many bands writing music in 1969 would have killed to write a song like Monkey Man, I mean literally killed. If they'd been given the option of having a songwriting credit on Monkey Man in exchange for knifing someone in a dark alley then every city would be heaving with lead guitarists hiding in shadows wielding blades. It would be a hit single for most bands but on Let it Bleed it just sits there as an album track. They didn't even bother playing it live when they toured until the mid nineties when it became one of the songs they revived in order to delight fans who loved hearing obscure old tracks given a live working. Despite being 25 years older than when he recorded it, Jagger hauled the band through stage renditions of Monkey Man as if he wrote it that morning and was keen to capture it before the magic left his head. He howled the words, ably supported by Lisa Fischer who has a voice so powerful they can enjoy her in Wales when she's appearing in London, and blew away everyone who heard it.

The strongest song on Let it Bleed is definitely Gimme Shelter and to be honest it would be the strongest track on pretty much every album on this countdown. Shelter is dark but magnificently so. It says something about a track when the lightest moment is probably a woman screaming "Rape, Murder, it's just a shot away". It's pitch black in its outlook and downright scary when you get down to it but it's also proof that the four guys who we think of as making up the core of the Rolling Stones were incredible talents. Watts gives every drumbeat an extra thump, Wyman grooves along on bass and Richards handles sole guitar duties. Jagger sings like he knows he's the greatest frontman in rock and roll (and to be fair he did because he was) and his harmonica sounds like it's possessed. 

The main impression you get from Let it Bleed is a band who is incredibly self confident and supremely sure of their own abilities. They were no longer a tentative cover band dipping their toe in song writing. They were the greatest band in the world and they knew it. If they wanted to record an extended blues track about the Boston Strangler then dammit they would. If they wanted to augment a song with an entire choir then why the hell not. if they wanted to throw on a country version of a prior hit then who would stop them? And if they wanted to pay tribute to Robert Johnson and remind everyone how they started then they would. They were the Stones and the rest of you could get stuffed.

Part of the reason for this new found confidence was the drifting away of founder and bandleader Brian Jones. In the early days The Rolling Stones was Brian's band. He was the leader and Mick and Keith were just the vocalist and other guitarist in his band. He ran the show and was the guy in charge. When it became clear the Jones wasn't really a songwriter but Mick and Keith were, the dynamic in the band changed and Brian went from being leader to hanger on.

Jones was present for the recording of Let it Bleed but didn't pick up his guitar for the entire session. He beat a bit of percussion on Midnight Rambler and played autoharp on You Go the Silver but the band could have easily survived without either contribution. For the first time it was clear that they didn't need their former leader and he was surplus to requirements. The sound of Let it Bleed is the sound of Jagger and Richards realising who is boss. 

Let it Bleed is dark, wonderful and rocks harder than anything else around at the time. Every track is a winner and it's one of those albums that you want to return to and hear again as soon as the final notes have died away. If you've only heard the Stones on radio then you'll know three of these tracks but you owe it to yourself to hear the others. It's outstanding stuff.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "The stones didnt know how to explore(unlike another band I could mention) and all their stuff sounds the same."

-So... you've actually listened to the album then? Or you just wrote this nonsense off the top of your head?

So can you always get what you want? And is this it? Let me know below.