Let It Bleed: Opinions

the-rolling-stones-let-it-bleed-album-cover

On Vinyl

Two-seconds.

That’s all it takes.

Two-seconds and then the needles drops, kisses and reveals what’s about to happen.

Two seconds and the guitar kicks in, and every montage of “a young man going to wear the nation’s colours in a foreign land” runs, screaming through my brain.

Two seconds and I’m a fucking hipster.

Sometimes I wonder if this a bad opinion to have. Not in the “I-hate-women” or “I’m-a-goddamn-racist” kind of ways. But in the, “oh fuck, someone thinks I’m that freaking hipster meme off the goddamn internet” and the “well, at least I’m not a goddamn barista,” kind of ways. Here’s what I know:

The moment the needle picks-up, stops and drops on to that fucking wax, is the same moment my body relaxes.

I don’t give a damn if they found out more high fidelity or more convenient ways of distributing music.

It’ll be a shame the day the last record shop goes out of business.

Yeah, it’ll be a shame the day when the last vinyl factory packs it up because of some what-ever-the-hell-we-invented-at-that-point that allows VR to straight-up cause people to nosedive (I cheered for the Grandpa too, fuck Zombies).  Yeah, they could place me in the heat of a million-person concert wave with VR, and I’d still drag my ass back to the wax.

Fair warning: I love to adapt to technology. From SoundCloud, Google’s cloud and even Amazon’s “turn-off-the-fucking-alarm-this-is-no-longer-a-fucking-game” cloud, I’m not a fool to admit that if my drug is music, then the Big Three can keep sticking the needle in.

Modernity and convenience are a given, I say, as I can hop on the same cloud that holds it all. But what happens when their convenience only goes as far as the internet connection?

The last vinyl shop that closes up will be like the last bookstore for me. Out of whatever Bradburian or Huxley-esque dystopia you can possibly imagine, I don’t want to be the unlucky bastard who witnesses the last vinyl shop close. It would tear my heart out, because the music there is still good.

Tangible and well-wrought by the years, I know how to plug the cords from a record player into a speaker, it isn’t hard.

More to the point, it won’t fail me in our cordless world.

And I know it works, because I hear the static when the needle drops. “Gimme Shelter” is engraved into that plastic. “Let It Bleed” is engraved into that plastic. The Rolling Stones of 1969 are engraved into that plastic. Yeah, it’s bit like the difference between a set of stone cut tablets and a book.

One is a series of paper. The other is a series of fucking rocks. And some determined bastard wrote on them. He meant what he said.

When I hear a good vinyl, it flows and it feels like it comes from a deeper, darker, nastier place out of my speakers than whatever digital copy I have. And that’s because somebody took to the time to engrave that nasty sound right into the record grooves. And the needle fits perfectly.

If the vinyl’s crap, or would randomly start hinting at some subtle scratchin’ for some damn reason that will never be clear, sure, that would be a drag. But don’t come crying to me. I wouldn’t give a damn. Not if the music was bad. So until then, the groove keeps playing…

On country

Two-seconds.

That’s all it takes.

Two seconds and the needle crackles, tongues and reveals what’s behind the lips.

Two seconds and the guitar shoves open the doors of a honky-tonk temple of the profane and the prostitute.

Two-seconds and I’m a fucking hick.

Loose women, loose lips and loose taps. All around I can hear the people saying “I love you” too much and “I probably shouldn’t” too little. And I begin to wonder why country is a little foreign to me. Then Jagger starts to sing, and I can’t help but start drawling along.

And when the guitar begins to rev up, I can’t help to rev my engines for the chorus.

And as that fiddler flares up, playing like his life depended on it, I can’t help but unleash the words:  “It’s the honky tonk women/ Give me, give me, give me the honky tonk blues.”

At this point, I’m only in a shirt and underwear, dance-walking up and down the hall outside my room like a damn loon, my arms turning over each other like a laundry cycle as I boogie and holler along to some of most honest country given to America by five English lads.

I don’t like country still, right?

But holy shit do I love it when those lads strip themselves down to those old blues-country song writing conventions. Ain’t nothing here but honesty:

I’m sittin’ in a bar, tippin’ a jar Jackson

And on the street the summer sun it shines

There’s many a barroom queen

I’ve had in Jackson

But I just can’t seem to drink you off my mind.

Oh man, I was done by that time. I was ready. I know who this girl was, every guy has a girl like this. This girl rocked my girl like nothing ever will. Like a juice cup with gin inside, this girl looked innocent but meant business.

Every time I listen, I just can’t seem to feel how real this is for the band; they’re play it live, they fucking have to be. One take? Definitely.

Twelve bars, two choruses, three minutes. Mick Jagger howls, Keith strums like the summer and that fiddler just keeps kicking ass. That fiddler deserves all of the fucking whiskey from four-step dancing with that fiddle.

This rough-and-tumble rhythm goes a shellacking a long, with not a damn care in it’s mind. They sound like they need to be in this barroom in Jackson, god damn. I need to be in that barroom in Jackson, good god damn.

But once again: underwear, hallway, dancing, hollering. I look like a damn fool whinging about nothing, but damn is it fun. So, yeah, I like me some country. I like me some country a lot. Because I like the Stones’ country. And that’s all I need to like…

On side one

Two-seconds.

That’s all it takes.

Two-seconds and the needle pops, tongues and reveals some skin.

Two-seconds and the piano starts to chime in to my own weariness. It’s the end of side one, but buckle up buckaroo, because this song is sex.

Two-seconds and I’m already a bloody fucking mess.

“Let it Bleed.” What a title. All your scars, let ’em bleed. What a philosophy. Those cuts ain’t nothing but scabbed-over souvenirs, yeah, they can sting all they want — but they make a person all the more alive.

And this song wants to get to know those scars. Because when they’ve been opened up and drained cleaned, hoo-wee, this is the song for thee. It doesn’t matter where you been lost or how you’ve been hurt, this song just wants to beg your soul back to bed.

Hell, the gal even gives us the game-plan:

She said, “My breasts, they will always be open

Baby, you can rest your weary head right on me

And there always be a space in my parking lot

When you need a little coke and sympathy.”

Yeah, this song is a line of coke and a blowjob. Crude, maybe, but effective? Definitely. It travels through the bloody veins, with a sonic wave of endorphin. It’s as if the entire album takes a breath before diving headlong back into the water as the side finishes.

The vinyl lightens its load, the piano perks up, Ry Cooder slides under the covers of his fretboard and the heart hums with that bass. It whispers in my ear: “Hey babe, looks like we found some shelter” and then begins to undress itself, building a beat from a rock that weathered the roll.

The lyrical licentiousness from Mick Jagger is welcome. The slow strumming of Keith Richards is wanted. They’re both pining, they’re both hankering, seriously, they’re both lusting as this song rolls on into its final form.

Come on, we all need someone we can feed on

Yeah, and if you want it, well you can feed on me

Hey, take my arm, take my leg

Oh baby, don’t you take my head

Jagger is emotionally addicted to this girl. But more importantly, he wants her to be emotionally addicted to him. Addicted to some pleasure mixed with a little bit of greed. But hey, what a way to feed.

I consider this song to be the dopest song of the album. It just wants to soothe my soul every time that the black disk spins. From start to finish this song sums up one of the best album sides in all of rock ‘n’ roll history.

The cuts take their time, yet get to the point. They tug the listener along, yet let the listener wander. And “Let It Bleed” exemplifies this, combining the classic triarchy of debauchery: sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.

Hell, the song doesn’t need to be on vinyl — it knows how to sex someone’s world on any format.

And this song is classier in it’s scope and sound than most. But it doesn’t dull the point: it’s dirty. It knows it. It likes it. And it knows we like it too…

On Let It Bleed

Two-seconds.

That’s all it takes.

Two-seconds and the needle flips, tugs some covers and rallies for a last, good kiss.

Two-seconds and the choir powers up, their voices inspire the mood. The rest of the album was good yeah? Well it ain’t the end yet so keep your ass pasted on that chair.

Two-seconds and I’ve found my fucking favourite Rolling Stones album.

I thought it was Angie at one point. I thought it was Some Girls soon after. But no, Let It Bleed will always be my favourite. Pound for pound, I will gladly take this album from the Stones’ string of five-star successes and call it their best.

It’s Brian Jones’ last effort with the band before he left, pulling a Syd Barret before Syd Barret pulled a Syd Barret, and the first with Mick Taylor, who was ready to bring the Stones into the seventies.

It’s raw, it’s sensual and it’s simply profound. It understands the basics of human wants. Food, shelter and love. It knows the world’s looking for a fight every day, but not every day needs a fight.

It’s an album that knows some days you might want a coke with a cherry red flavour, but some days, all you need is a coke.

Grade: A

Producer: Jimmy Miller

Track Listing:

  1. Gimme Shelter (Play this until the walls shake)
  2. Love in Vain
  3. Country Honk (Boogie here)
  4. Live with Me
  5. Let It Bleed (Coke — the white kind)
  6. Midnight Rambler
  7. You Got the Silver
  8. Monkey Man (One of the coolest Stones intros, period)
  9. You Can’t Always Get What You Want (Coke — the cherry red kind)

All songs written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards except track 2 (Robert Johnson).

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