The Rolling Stones' 'Beggars Banquet' at 50: Classic Album Track-by-Track


The Rolling Stones went again to fundamentals as their creator pale away. Their seventh album, Beggars Banquet, launched on this present day (Dec. 6) in 1968, marked the start of the top for his or her founding guitarist, Brian Jones.

Their subtlest, mellowest work is being commemorated by ABKCO Records, who launched Beggars Banquet (50th Anniversary Edition) this week. The bundle accommodates a recent remastering of the album on CD and gatefold vinyl.

Beggars Banquet was their final album made inside Jones’ lifetime; he’d dreamed up the band himself in 1962. When a venue proprietor known as and requested the identify of his then-untitled group, he panicked, checked out a Muddy Waters document sleeve on his flooring and rattled off a title: “The Rollin’ Stones.”

Over time, he established himself because the quiet, arty counterpart to his outrageous bandmates, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. As the band gained steam, so did Jagger and Richards’ songwriting talents, and so they swiftly hogged the highlight from their outdated chief. By 1968, Jones’ rock n' roll creation had taken over the world -- and he turned a shell of himself with a nasty drug behavior.

Musically, the remainder of the Stones had been prepared for a change. Their final album had been 1967’s Their Satanic Majesty’s Request, a zonked detour into psychedelic rock. It mirrored Jones’ eccentric sensibilities; Richards dismissed it as “flimflam.”

As they labored on its follow-up, Jones started to be a legal responsibility. "He'd present up sometimes when he was within the temper to play, and he may by no means actually be relied on,” producer Jimmy Miller remembered of the Beggars periods at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles. “And the others, notably Mick and Keith, would typically say to me, 'Just inform him to piss off and get the hell out of right here.’”

With Richards, a pupil of American folks and blues, principally working the present, the Stones achieved extra with much less. They dropped the psychedelic façade and picked up acoustic guitars; the outcomes had been bare-bones gems like “No Expectations,” “Factory Girl” and “Salt of the Earth.”

It’s not simply the Rolling Stones unplugged; their fiery hits “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Street Fighting Man” each seem right here. But reasonably than anchoring the album, each singles really feel like outliers. Drop the needle on every other track, and also you hear the World’s Greatest Rock ‘n Roll Band barely rocking in any respect.

Beggars Banquet additionally marked the Stones’ first transitional interval. The following 12 months, Jones can be discovered lifeless in a swimming pool at 27.

The rawer, filthier strategy right here foreshadowed their ‘70s classics, like 1971’s Sticky Fingers and 1972’s Exile on Main St. It can all be traced again to Beggars, during which they stretched out, recalibrated and acquired again to their roots. The Stones’ second wind begins right here.

To have a good time the discharge of Beggars Banquet (50th Anniversary Edition), right here’s a track-by-track retrospective of the unique album.

“Sympathy for the Devil”

Over a clattery, ominous samba rhythm, Jagger palms the mic to Satan on “Sympathy for the Devil.” It’d tackle a second life each in cinema and myriad cowl variations: it might be the one track championed by each Martin Scorsese and Axl Rose.

Fifty years on, this Stones traditional stays daring and enveloping; nearly nothing sounds prefer it. This even goes for the remainder of Beggars Banquet -- “Devil” is an odd opener for this in any other case spare, minimal album.

Quibbling apart, Jagger’s portrayal of the Morning Star as a rakish debonair nonetheless elicits grins; the lyrics about taking pictures the Kennedys and Christ’s agony in Gethsemane, gasps.

“No Expectations”

This Banquet definitely begins with a bang via “Sympathy for the Devil.” But “No Expectations,” a melancholic folks track with a beautiful bottleneck slide half from Jones, is the true entryway into its world. Jagger’s terse with the small print, singing about how he has to board a flight to go away his lover, who “throws pearls earlier than swine” to his detriment.

The outcome is likely one of the most beautiful ballads within the Stones’ catalog. And from Jagger’s hangdog supply to Nicky Hopkins’ sparse, plaintive piano, “No Expectations” virtually invents early Wilco.

“Dear Doctor”

The breakup theme of “No Expectations” continues with “Dear Doctor” -- albeit in a tongue-in-cheek setting. It begins with Jagger detailing his damaged coronary heart -- not poetically, however actually, and a lot in order that it must be bodily eliminated and preserved in a jar.

It will get even sillier from there: Jagger compares his fiancee to a “bow-legged sow” earlier than getting nerves on the altar: “I placed on my jacket / It had creases as sharp as a knife!”

As with folks, blues and rock n' roll, the Stones had been downright teachers of nation music. Their dedication reveals: “Dear Doctor” is a dead-on, endearingly corny parody of nation wedding ceremony drama.

“Parachute Woman”

On “Parachute Woman,” Jagger works the one manner he is aware of how: blue. “I’ll make my blow in Dallas / And get scorching once more in half the time,” he yowls. As typical, you may’t accuse him of being too refined.

The music is much extra attention-grabbing; the Stones tracked “Parachute Woman” in an experimental vogue. Ever since Richards had famously demoed “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” actually whereas asleep in a lodge, he’d fallen in love with the “grinding, soiled” sound he may get when utilizing consumer-grade cassette recorders.

Inspired by the blown-out environment of his lodge demos, Richards ran his acoustic guitar half by way of a tape deck, deliberately monitoring “Parachute Woman” in cheapo low-fidelity. Pulled off a decade earlier than punk and two earlier than Guided by Voices, this was one prescient studio trick.

“Jigsaw Puzzle”

Musically, “Jigsaw Puzzle” isn’t a lot, only a grooving country-blues jam. But lyrically, there’s so much to unpack. When he’s not singing hilarious Joni-isms (“There’s a tramp sitting on my doorstep / With his mentholated sandwich / He’s a strolling clothesline!”) he’s calling out each particular person member of the Rolling Stones.

“The singer seems offended at being thrown to the lions,” he sings. “The bass participant, he seems nervous in regards to the women exterior.” If that line is a dig at bassist Bill Wyman’s womanizing nature, it takes one to know one.

“Street Fighting Man”

Released as a single simply as Vietnam War protesters clashed with the cops on the Democratic National Convention, “Street Fighting Man” was a social unrest anthem for the ages. The music’s extra attention-grabbing than normally given credit score, too, from Jones’ droning sitar and tamboura to visitor Dave Mason’s bass drum and Indian shehnai.

Despite its enchantment, the track has no less than one hater: Jagger himself. “I don’t actually prefer it that a lot,” he admitted to Rolling Stone writer Jann Wenner in 1995. “I’m undecided if it has any resonance for the current day.” Whether this was a good evaluation of its message, or if it even actually suits on Banquet, Richards’ grinning two-chord riff is a language anybody can perceive.

“Prodigal Son”

With Richards on the helm, the Stones would start to emphasise his encyclopedic information of early blues. “Prodigal Son” was initially by Reverend Robert Wilkins, a Memphis bluesman who was a senior citizen by the point the Stones acquired rolling.

The first cowl of Beggars Banquet portrayed a dirty, graffiti-strewn males’s room on the entrance, with Wilkins precisely credited on the again; when Decca rejected and changed the sleeve, the brand new model featured a careless typo of Wilkins’ track as being by “Jagger/Richards.”

Although their try and shine a lightweight on a lesser-known affect ended up backfiring, by all accounts, the Stones lined Wilkins in good religion.

“Stray Cat Blues”

When it involves the Stones’ lyrics, Jagger would spend the next decade testing the boundaries of raunch. 1971’s “Brown Sugar” and 1978’s “Some Girls” had been each crammed with racially charged references to illicit intercourse; how these two acquired previous the censors is anybody’s guess.

If these songs had been the furthest Jagger pushed the envelope, “Stray Cat Blues” got here fairly shut. Even if he’s singing in character, his icky ideations a few 15-year-old (“You look so bizarre and also you’re so removed from house / I guess you miss your mom”) didn’t age properly.

On “Brown Sugar,” Jagger buried offensive lyrics beneath the Stones’ most kinetic groove, however “Stray Cat Blues” is simply plain lecherous.

“Factory Girl”

In he and Watts’ revealing 2001 e-book According to the Rolling Stones, Jagger would clarify the Stones’ strategy to nation music on Beggars Banquet. “There’s a manner of taking a look at life in a humorous type of manner,” he wrote of the style. “I feel we had been simply acknowledging that facet of the music.”

Over a parody of an Appalachian jig, “Factory Girl” finds a crestfallen Jagger ready in useless. He’s acquired his sights on a working-class gal, pleading and begging her to clock out of her industrial day job and be his.

Musically, it’s one other loving tip of the hat to nation music, with just a few twists: Watts strikes a tabla together with his drumsticks; Nicky Hopkins performs a Mellotron in a mandolin setting, and Ghanaian percussionist Rocky Dijon slaps a conga.

The fantastic thing about the Stones was by no means their reverence, however their cheek at style conventions. On “Factory Girl,” the Stones knew nation and western so properly that they weren’t afraid to play it with Eastern, West Indies, or every other sorts of devices.

“Salt of the Earth”

When Brian Jones checked out from the band throughout the Beggars Banquet periods, Richards stepped as much as preside over the album. And true to type for Banquet, which was purely his child, Uncle Keef himself sings a uncommon lead vocal for the finale.

“Salt of the Earth” is a stellar ode to the working man, held on an idiom from the Sermon on the Mount about reliability and energy of character. He pumps up the “hard-working folks” with encouragement and zeal. “Say a prayer for the frequent foot soldier,” he declares. “Spare a thought for his back-breaking work.”

Until the rocking backing monitor all of a sudden drops out, leaving Jagger to ship a startling line. “When I look within the faceless crowd,” he sings, “A swirling mass of grays / They don’t look actual to me.”

Richards is standing for the ham-and-eggers, Jagger is suspicious of the straight world. From there, “Salt of the Earth” begins to tear aside, as if holding two opposing truths in the identical track. The two end the track collectively as in the event that they’re preventing for the microphone.

Fifty years in the past, the Stones’ outdated chief was on his manner out; for the remainder of their band’s historical past, Jagger and Richards’ conflicting personalities would gas the hearth. It all started at this Banquet.