I’ve been holding back on reviewing the Rolling Stones on this site because I find it very difficult to get the right words to match what I think of them. You see, I love the Stones, and I hate them sometimes too. Some of their songs/albums are absolute gems, some are weak money-grabs, and some are completely unlistenable sins against Rock Itself that should never have seen the light of day. Even then I still give them points for trying.
However, Beggars Banquet is an absolute gem. Made at a point in their career when the initial tsunami of fame had given way to an altogether new one, the Stones turned back to their roots in the blues and put down some of the finest songs committed to record.
Drop this in the player and let Sympathy For The Devil work you over. It swirls and offers hope and malice and euphoria all on the same serving platter. It conjures images and tells stories and leaves you gasping. When it’s all over, even though I’ve played this CD enough times that by rights it should be worn out by now, I always get that tingle of trepidation, wondering ‘How in the hell are they gonna follow that?’ What song could possibly step in to please you as much as that first track? And every time I laugh at myself, because No Expectations is the perfect slide-guitar follow-up. And frankly, the rest of the record just makes sense in the same way. It flows.
Sure, the only other single on here is Street Fighting Man, but it hardly matters. The rest are equally worthy. By the time you reach Salt Of The Earth, you’ll have fallen in love ten times. This is honest music, and it’s sexy as hell. It hurts, it aches and it preens. It nods at the past and calmly asserts the new order at the same time. It won’t leave your player for weeks and you won’t mind at all.
Even better, this is the first in the string of Four Best Stones Records (in my opinion). This is the beginning point of a very fertile and absolutely amazing musical period for the band, one which has never been duplicated, except in a lot of talented musician’s wildest wet dreams.
Do yourself a favour. Go dig out your copy and give it a spin. It’ll be better than anything else you’ve heard in a long, long while.