Beggar’s Banquet – The Rolling Stones

Hey, my name’s Drew, and I’ll be taking over Throwback Thursday for Heff. It took some thought to figure out which album would take my blogging virginity, and I decided I’d start out with a band that’s very special to me. This December marks the 50th anniversary of The Rolling Stone’s Beggars Banquet, the band’s ninth studio album. All Stones projects tend to reveal the band’s roots in the blues, but none more clearly than this one. It is also the last record released during the life of founding member Brian Jones, who then became the founding member of the infamous “27 Club”. Let’s break it down and rate this thing.

The Vocals:

It’s Mick Jagger. I could stop there, but I won’t. Mick shows an impressive range on this album, from low swinging five bar blues like with “No Expectations” or “Prodigal Son”, to the hard rocking of “Street Fighting Man”. He’s got an inimitable swagger to his voice that really brings every track on this record to life. Keith Richards hops on backup vocals on the third track, “Dear Doctor”, and the whole band takes the mic to breathe life into the album with the first track, “Sympathy for the Devil”. They pretty much nailed it in the vocals department.

The Instrumentals:

If you’re talking about instrumentation on this album, the conversation begins with Keith Richards. He does some crazy things with an acoustic guitar on this album, playing acoustic on tracks two through seven as well as some really cool riffs on nine. On the drums, Charlie Watts lays down some really cool lines throughout, especially on the opener “Sympathy for the Devil”. Watts also breaks out the tabla (similar to the bongos) on the ninth track “Factory Girl”. If you listen for it you’ll also hear Brian Jones playing the sitar on “Street Fighting Man”. Might it have something to do with The Beatles infamous trip to India earlier that year? I can’t say for sure. But probably.

The Production:

This album is the first on which the band collaborated with producer Jimmy Miller. They made four more with him by 1973, so obviously he was doing something right. Miller worked heavily with Keith Richards on the record, and it yielded some pretty interesting results. I recently found out that “Street Fighting Man” was cut from a recording on Richard’s cassette player, where Richards was playing an acoustic, accompanied by Charlie Watts on a 1930s toy drum kit. Yes, a TOY drum kit. Based on the finished product I’d say Brian Jones knows what he was doing behind the boards.

The Essentials:

It’s only 10 songs long and they’re all worth a listen, but the tracks that stand out to me are: “Sympathy For the Devil” (this one gets right in your bones), “Street Fighting Man”, and “Parachute Woman”.

The Rating:

Overall it’s not my favorite album by this group, and it probably loses some points because it’s only 40 minutes long. That said, Beggar’s Banquet gets a:

8.6

A very solid album all in all. Let me know if you agree with the rating in the comments below. If you disagree, keep it to yourself.

-Drew

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