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The last Stones studio album of the ‘60s finds the band, for perhaps the first time, accurately reflecting the spirit of its age. The erstwhile bad boy outsiders of rock now found themselves firmly in the center of the social and political post-’68 whirlwind, and faced up to the challenge magnificently. The band's confident climb to its artistic peak was begun by BEGGAR'S BANQUET, but LET IT BLEED is a quantum leap even from that musical milestone.
The album's opener, “Gimme Shelter,” with its insinuating guitar introduction, leads us decisively out of Flower Power and into a world where rape and murder are “just a shot away,” and the Devil of BANQUET is very much alive and taking names. There's a nod to seminal influence Robert Johnson, whose “Love in Vain” is a mandolin-accompanied highlight. The climax arrives in the form of “You Can't Always Get What You Want,” bearing references to the fallout of the Swinging London era. LET IT BLEED finds the Stones brimming with musical confidence and artistic inspiration.
What the critics say…
Rolling Stone (12/11/03, p.106) – Ranked #32 in Rolling Stone's “500
Greatest Albums Of All Time” – “…[The album] rattles and burns with
Rolling Stone (p.147) – 5 stars out of 5 – “[I]t's a howling force of nature…This is the sound of the world coming to an end. LET IT BLEED offers sympathy, in that slutty, decadent way that was the Stones' specialty.”
Entertainment Weekly (9/20/02, p.104) – “…Impeccable…” – Rating: A
Q (6/00, p.74) – Ranked #28 in Q's “100 Greatest British Albums” – “…A watershed album…one that brought the curtain crashing down on the ‘60s…[They] played badboy blues-rock better than any white band alive, on either side of the Atlantic.”
NME (Magazine) (7/8/95, p.46) – 9 (out of 10) – “…it tugs and teases in all directions, from the gospel-tinged lament `You Can't Always Get What You Want’ to the voodoo wail of `Midnight Rambler' and `Gimme Shelter' to the redneck farce of `Country Honk'. A classic…”
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