LET IT BLEED

Recorded:
November 16-17, 1968: Olympic Sound Studios, London, England
February 10-March 31, 1969: Olympic Sound Studios, London, England
April 17-July 2, 1969: Olympic Sound Studios, London, England
Early-mid-September 1969: Olympic Sound Studios, London, England
October 1-15, 1969: Olympic Sound Studios, London, England

Overdubbed & mixed:
October 17-November 2, 1969: Sunset Sound Studios, Los Angeles, USA;
Elektra Studios, Los Angeles, USA

Producer: Jimmy Miller
Chief engineer: Glyn Johns
Released: November 1969
Original label: London Records (Polygram)



Contributing musicians: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Brian Jones, Mick Taylor, Nicky Hopkins, Ry Cooder, Jimmy Miller, Ian Stewart, Al Kooper, Bobby Keys, Byron Berline, Leon Russell, Rocky Dijon, Jack Nitzsche (arranger), Merry Clayton, Nanette Newman, Madeline Bell, Doris Troy, the London Bach Choir.

Gimmie Shelter
Love in Vain
Country Honk
Live with Me
Let It Bleed
Midnight Rambler
You Got the Silver
Monkey Man
You Can't Always Get What You Want
 
 
 
 
 


THE TITLE


(It didn't have) a thing (to do with the Beatles' Let It Be). Just a coincidence because you're working along the same lines at the same time at the same age as a lot of other cats. All trying to do the same thing basically, turn themselves and other people on. Let It Bleed was just one line in that song Mick wrote. It became the title... we just kicked a line out... We dug that song so... maybe there was some influence because Let It Be had been kicked around for years for their movie, for that album. Let it be something. Let it out. Let it loose.

- Keith Richards, 1971

 
 
 
 


COVER


I was working then as a jobbing home economist with a food photographer who shot for commercials and magazines. I'd cook anything they needed. One day they said they wanted a cake for a Rolling Stones record cover, it was just another job at the time. They wanted it to be very over-the-top and as gaudy as I could make it.

- TV cook Delia Smith, in Bill Wyman's
Rolling With The Stones

 
 
 
 


CREATION


(We wrote some of the songs in) Positano, south of Naples (Italy). We'd been there before. We knew the place vaguely and someone offered us their house there. It was empty, barren, very cold. Huge fires and we just sat and wrote. Did Midnight Rambler there, Monkey Man and some others.

- Keith Richards, 1971


(Let It Bleed was similar to Exile on Main Street because the recording was somewhat chaotic), but we were grounded because we were still in England and had this way of doing it. We went to the studio and lived in London. Though it was made in a screwy way, it was organized, structured; a studio rather than a home recording.

- Mick Jagger, 1995


(Ry Cooder) came over with Jack Nitzsche (during the sessions), and we said, Do you want to come along and play? The first thing Mick wanted was to re-cut Sister Morphine with the Stones, which is what we got together. He's also playing mandolin on Love In Vain or ... he's on another track too. He played beautifully, man. I heard those things he said (about the Stones ripping him off), I was amazed. I learned a lot of things off a lot of people... If the cat . . . first of all, he was never brought over for the album, which is the main thing. He came over with Jack Nitzsche to get the music for some movie. He came by and we played together a lot, sure... I had already been into open tuning on Beggars Banquet, Street Fighting Man. Just a different tuning. (Cooder showed me open-G tuning.)

- Keith Richards, 1971


They were treating Brian badly, but they probably had good reason. He literally couldn't play his instrument anymore. Brian was simply being detrimental to the group and letting them know it. One night while they were jamming, Brian tried to play harp. He was real fucked up and his mouth started bleeding. It was all over then anyway.

- Jack Nitzsche


Keith and I have written some 24 songs recently... (A)ll of (the next) album contains stuff we can play on stage.

- Mick Jagger, June 1969


We've almost got two LPs finished, the tracks are mostly four to five minutes long, so we can't get more than ten on an album. The next album won't be out until September 'cause the record companies don't like issuing things in the July period. They'll put out an album and a single together and that's fine - I'll be away filming anyway so we can't do anything on them for a while. We'll put out another album and a single before Christmas as well. We're just doing things a bit faster, we tend to concentrate on all our own songs, we can only do what we produce... if we only write thirty songs, that's all we can do. We'd rather have ten good songs than a load of ordinary ones.

- Mick Jagger, June 1969


The important thing about Let It Bleed is the amount of work Keith did. He literally was a WORKHOUSE. He was in a great cycle during that period, at a great point in his playing. When Brian died, that was accepted. Keith took over the musical leadership of the Stones, and did it brilliantly. There were times where I'd think, What could Keith possibly do to help this track better itself? I was afraid he'd overdo it. Then he'd suddenly just play something that would knock me out. It would always be some guitar figure I'd never imagined which made the whole thing work. THAT was the magic of the Stones.

- Jimmy Miller, 1979

 
 
 
 


APPRECIATION


We don't want to repeat ourselves, (our albums) are all different. Like Their Satanic Majesties and Beggars Banquet, they're both different. I would say the next one is still a very driving thing, not soft, but not too heavy. I quite like it.

- Mick Jagger, June 1969


Well, it (was) a very rough, very violent era. The Vietnam War. Violence on the screens, pillage and burning... I think (the war influenced the album). Even though I was living in America only part time, I was influenced. All those images were on television. Plus, the spill out onto campuses.

- Mick Jagger, 1995


Some people find some of the lyrics rude. Some of the lyrics ARE rude, actually.

- Mick Jagger, 1969


I think it is the best stuff we have done so far. It is like a progression from Beggars Banquet, only heavier.

- Keith Richards, July 1969


It's only recently I've realized how good an album it is... what with us still doing so many songs from it on stage.

- Mick Jagger, 1972


I guess I like Beggars Banquet the best of everything we've done. Let It Bleed was a good album too.

- Keith Richards, 1973


I think Beggars Banquet, Sticky Fingers and Let It Bleed.

- Keith Richards, 1974, asked about his
favorite Stones albums


(I)t's got some good songs on it.

- Mick Jagger, 1977


I like Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed very much.

- Mick Jagger, 1987, asked what his
favorite Stones albums are


Well, funnily enough, this year I've listened to (Stones albums) more than ever, because they all came out on CD... (T)he ones that impressed me were the ones I always thought were superior - Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed. And Sticky Fingers. And Exile.

- Keith Richards, 1987, asked about his
favorite Stones albums


I think it's a good record. I'd put it as one of my favorites.

- Mick Jagger, 1995

 
 
 


REVIEW EXCERPTS


What a great album! The Stones have obviously put a lot of thought and hard work into it and I have no hesitation in naming it one of the Top Five LPs of 1969 - people are going to have to go a long way to beat it. There's so much variety that each track makes you want to hear it again and again... It's an incredible piece of work that shows the group and friends at their best.

- Richard Green, New Musical Express, November 1969


The music has tones that are at once dark and perfectly clear, while the words are slurred and often buried for a stronger musical effect... (L)ike Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed has the feel of Highway 61 Revisited... (I)t's the first and last of Let It Bleed that seem to matter most. The frightening desperation of Gimmie Shelter and the confused frustration of You Can't Always Get What You Want give the lie to the bravado of Midnight Rambler or Live WIth Me. Not that those songs don't work - they do, of course, as crunching, soaring dreams of conquest and pop supremacy. They're great numbers. But Gimmie Shelter and You Can't Always What What You Want both reach for reality and end up confronting it, almost mastering what's real, or what reality will feel like as the years fade in... (I)n Let It Bleed we can find every role the Stones have ever played for us - swaggering studs, evil demons, harem keepers and fast life riders - what the Stones meant in the Sixties, what they know very well they've meant to us. But at the beginning and the end you'll find an opening to the Seventies - harder to take, and stronger wine. They have women with them this time, and these two magnificent songs no longer reach for mastery over other people, but for an uncertain mastery over the more desperate situations the coming years are about to enforce.

- Greil Marcus, Rolling Stone, December 1969


Keith can stake his reputation as one of rock's great guitarists on Let It Bleed alone. Here's Richards at an awesome peak, stacking pealing, viscerally compelling guitar riffs like so much kindling wood.

- Robert Palmer, 1983


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