1. Sympathy for the Devil
2. No Expectations
3. Dear Doctor
4. Parachute Woman
5. Jigsaw Puzzle
6. Street Fighting Man
7. Prodigal Son
8. Stray Cat Blues
9. Factory Girl
10. Salt of the Earth
From the devil to the deep blues sea > great from start to finish. Kicks off the Stones golden era > psychedelica dispatched for a back-to-roots bounty
- Nov 1968
- Rock On Rock Recommends:
The whole album. One of the Rolling Stones’ best.
FROM samba-driven satanic verses to predatory sex, protest movement anthem and a tribute to the working classes > Beggars Banquet is a ripper of an album wrapped in diverse musical styles.
There’s a wonderful sparcity of instruments and depth of feeling > flowing from the Rolling Stones’ love of blues.
The Stones are back on the beat after previous album Their Satanic Majesties’ Request took a trip of highs and lows down acid alley.
The drug busts and police harassment as the police targeted the Rolling Stones > deemed a threat to society > had taken their toll on guitarist Brian Jones who became a drugged-up mess. This would be the last album he would really contribute to, and even then minimally.
There was a furore over the Beggars Banquet cover, with record company Decca refusing to release the album with the Rolling Stones photo choice of a graffiti-ridden toilet > an extremely innocuous picture by modern standards.
Mick Jagger even threatened to not put the record out at all, but eventually relented with the plainest of album covers in protest.
Out on the streets, the natives were restless as the 1960s protest movement reached its zenith and the Stones song Street Fighting Man tapped into the anger.
“I wasn’t taking so many drugs that it was messing up my creative process. It was a very good period, 1968. There was a good feeling in the air. It was a creative period for everyone”
> Mick Jagger to Rolling Stone magazine (1995)
Sympathy for the Devil: One of the Rolling Stones’ greatest songs. Jagger shouts out the exploits of the devil, behind a samba beat increasing in intensity. Richards lets rip with a stinging lead guitar burst. While the Rolling Stones previous album was Their Satanic Majesties’ Request, here they lay claim to doing the devil’s work.
SONG BANNED > Street Fighting Man: Featuring a clamorous criss-cross of acoustic guitars, Street Fighting Man became an anthem for the youth movement as they hit the streets in protest, including against the Vietnam War. Mass marches were held in the US, London and Paris, among others, and violent confrontations with authorities later erupted on the streets and in American university campuses.
Street Fighting Man, released as a single, was banned by many radio stations in the US and the single’s cover sleeve in America, of a street demonstration, was withdrawn from sale after a few days.
“I’m pleased to hear they have banned Street Fighting Man > as long as it’s available in the shops. The last time they banned one of our records in America it sold a million.
> Mick Jagger to London Evening Standard.
Salt of the Earth is another anthemic song, a toast to the working classes. Keith Richards > sounding as salty as the Red Sea > sings the first verse behind strumming guitars, before Jagger takes over. Nicky Hopkins rolls in on piano and Charlie Watts kicks in the drums soon enough as a rough-hewn, throaty band of miscreants raise their glasses to the common people.
The forlorn No Expectations > Brian Jones on bottleneck guitar > is a great vagabond blues ballad and, like Sympathy for the Devil, among their best songs.
Vaudeville meets Grand Ole Opry on Dear Doctor, a humorous country ditty about a good ole boy drowning himself in bourbon as his wedding fast approaches > before good ol’ cousin Lou comes to the rescue.
Bold blues warble Parachute Woman is topped up with wailing harmonica.
Mick Jagger impersonates a Baptists minister on country/gospel tune Prodigal Son > Halleluiah brother, I is saved!!
THE WRONG AGE GROPE > It’s a 15-year-old girl that needs saving on guitar-sliced rock conquest Stray Cat Blues. No time for niceties here as Jagger preys for sexual gratification on a young piece of groupie jailbait > or two. But hey, come on > FIFTEEN years old.
Jigsaw Puzzle talks of tramps, family man gangsters and a fractured rock and roll band as the singer ponders this jigsaw puzzle > trying to make sense of it all.
Keith Richards settles back on acoustic rhythm amid a congas beat on Factory Girl > about a knockabout bloke waiting at the factory gate for his gal to punch in the bundy clock so they can get out for an end of working week shally-hoo.
This album was the Rolling Stones first with producer Jimmy Miller, whose first track with the band was Jumping Jack Flash, released as a single a few months earlier. This red-hot song of defiance, with booming bass and Charlie Watts drums, marked the birth of the band’s more hard-core rock sound. But it was not put on Beggars Banquet.
The partnership with Miller over the next five years would prove to be the Stones most musically dynamic.
GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE STONES
Guitarist Keith Richards’ girlfriend > stunning blonde German actress/model Anita Pallenberg > was starring in the film Performance with Mick Jagger, making his big-screen debut. Nudity and sex scenes were involved > with Richards reportedly furiously waiting in his car outside the film studio. Rumours flew that Pallenberg and Jagger were getting it off.
Richards confirmed more than 30 years later in his autobiography Life that Pallenberg did have an affair with Jagger > but she denies this.
Keef himself was hardly squeaky clean, having “stolen” Pallenberg from bandmate Brian Jones while on a trip to Morocco a year or so earlier. Pallenberg, Richards and Jones were on a road trip when Jones become ill and went to hospital.
The other two continued on in the back of Richard’s chauffeur-driven Bentley > with the idea of Jones catching up later. Richards and Pallenberg got on like a house on fire.
GUITARIST BRIAN JONES BUSTED > AGAIN!
Brian Jones faced a drug possession charge after an early morning police raid on a flat he was staying at in Chelsea, London, on May 20, 1968.
Jones failed to answer the door and one officer climbed in through a refuse hatch and let the others in. Jones was found in a bedroom about to dial his solicitor.
A thorough search of the premises uncovered a small amount of marijuana and Jones was escorted to Chelsea police station. He faced court on September 26 charged with possessing “144 grains” of cannabis.
The jury found him guilty and Jones was fined 50 pounds.
Brian Jones helped record the Master Musicians of Joujuka in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains. The recordings were made during the tribe’s Pipes of Pan Festival in 1967.
The album, Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at JouJouka, was finally released in 1971, several years after Jones’ death, on the Rolling Stones own record label. It is one of the first “world” records.
Meanwhile, French new-wave film maker Jean-Luc Godard filmed the Rolling Stones in the studio recording Sympathy for the Devil for his documentary One Plus One.
The footage is interspersed with annoying revolutionary theory espoused in an industrial wasteland. The film shows the decay of a drugged-out Brian Jones in the recording studio.
> WRITTEN by MALCOLM LIVERMORE