Friday, April 13, 2007


I have recently been on a big Rolling Stones kick, in particular revisiting every film and bootleg from what most fans consider to be their golden era (1968-1972). During this era, Mick, Keef & the boys released what arguably their four greatest albums: Beggars Banquet(1968), Let It Bleed(1969), Sticky Fingers(1971) and Exile on Main Street(1972).

So here's the question (and it is NOT this week's trivia question--that's coming later!): How would you rank these albums in order of their supreme rocking greatness? While my order changes quite often, here's my opinion for this week:

#4 - Beggars Banquet
#3 - Let It Bleed
#2 - Exile on Main Street
#1 - Sticky Fingers

It's really tough to rate an album that contains Sympathy For the Devil, No Expectations, Parachute Woman and Street Fighting Man as the "worst", but it just goes to show why the Stones were commonly referred to as (ok, admittedly by people they paid to say it) "The World's Greatest Rock and Roll Band" in the late 60's.

So--what's your ranking? And if you can, give some specific reasons why.


casey said...

Good question, and it'll help me avoid work for another few minutes. My order of rank:

#1 - Sticky Fingers — Hitting on all cylinders + great songs = their masterpiece.

#3 - Let It Bleed — Bye, bye Brian, hello doped up twang.

#4 - Beggars Banquet — "Factory Girl" and "No Expectations" are great enough to make you overlook the half-baked Dylanisms of "Jigsaw Puzzle."

#2 - Exile on Main Street — I'm not the fan of this album that everyone else is. It's meandering. But taken with the history behind it's creation, it is truly a unique piece of art.

Actually, I'd put "Goat's Head Soup" ahead of "Exile." The LP artwork is corny/unsettling -- asphyxiation (erotic) by plastic bag? An actual goat's head in a cauldron of blood? Mick's "Jack Scratch" routine is in full force here. Although it's hammy, it works. "Dancing With Mr. D" is rivaled only by Bowie's (song) "Station to Station" for self-referential spiritual corruption. And I should know. [Insert devil's horns and the sound of souls being fileted]

Andrew said...

I'm totally with you on 4 for #1, then 2, 1, and 3. Exile On Main St. because Pussy Galore did that trak for trak emulation which was a key cassette for my formative years. Then Sticky Fingers, because it still gets me off.

Actually, it could be a toss for #1 because I love Pussy Galore so much. It's a great cassette if you can find it. Yes! it is cassette only. Steve Albini had something to do with it I'm sure (analog bastard).

jay said...

the half-baked Dylanisms of "Jigsaw Puzzle"

Good call--I was just thinking the same thing about this song; it's like an attempt to make a dumbed-down version of "Desolation Row".

While I don't agree with you on "Exile", it's defitely their most polarizing album; definitely a "love it" or "hate it" one. I love the spontaneity of it and the barroom comraderie of the sound. It's just so unpolisheed and raw, which was such a major departure from the sound of "Sticky Fingers". EOMS can be somewhat uneven, but songs like "Tumbling Dice", "All Down the Line" and "Shine a Light" more than make up the gaps for me.

I'm not a big "Goat's Head Soup" fan; I think I'd rather listen to "Some Girls".

jay said...

And how about most underrated Stones song this period? My vote is for either "Monkey Man" or "No Expectations".

casey said...

"Monkey Man" rules, but it's hard to for me to separate it from the mental image of a coked-out ray Liotta.

Some Girls is a pretty good pop album, but by and large, I'm not entirely down with the Stones' "New York" phase. But Sonny Rollins' solo on the end of "Waiting for a Friend" still gives me goosebumps.

Fave Stones song ever? Maybe "Moonlight Mile." It's a step into another sonic territory for them, and one they really never revisited again. For me, it's similar to the Doors' "Indian Summer": surprisingly sweet, sad and lush. You could practically live inside it.

jay said...

I never realized until last night, while reading the liner notes to "Sticky Fingers", that Dead Flowers was a Stones original--I always assumed they were covering a Townes Van Zandt song, instead of the other way around.

I think Monkey Man is probably my favorite Stones song--it's like a shot of adrenaline every time I hear it.

5T said...

Pussy Galore's "Exile" may be heard here:

I rate

1 - Exile (because it is AMAZING for four whole sides and because it breaks my heart and I don't know why)
2 - Let It Bleed (dunno, I just love the vibe)
3 - Sticky Fingers (ROCK! and also a real heartbreaker)
4 - Beggar's Banquet (a really good album with great tones but just doesn't hit me as hard as the others)

And by the way, where does Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out fit into all this? I dig that one LOTS

rite on
5 out