29 November 1969

Stunning Stones

The Rolling Stones' last album of the 1960s is widely regarded as their best, with songs like the ominous 'Gimme Shelter' bidding farewell to the idealism of the 'underground' culture. At the time, however, the message was not obvious to everyone. For the British music weekly Record Mirror it was just another welcome excuse to throw a party...

The famous sleeve, with Delia Smith's cake


Star Track: “Midnight Rambler” by The Rolling Stones

(from “Let It Bleed”, Decca LK 5025)

If you haven’t heard the new Stones album then you’re in for a real treat. It’s full of great sounds, and a few surprises too – including a country-and-western version of their smash hit “Honky Tonk Women”.

But for this month’s Star Track, I’ve picked a number that reflects the darker side of the Stones – and believe me, it’s not for the faint-hearted!

The mood is set early on, with some eerie guitar from Keith and spooky bass from Bill, but from the moment Charlie’s drums arrive, we’re into a crash-bang-wallop Stones stomper with plenty of groove power.

Beat-wise I’d call it a thumpy choogler – neither an out-and-out raver like “Satisfaction” nor a poppy hummer like “Out Of Time”.  It’s not as tuneful as the Hollies’ “Sorry Suzanne” so it probably won’t get much action in the discotheques.

But it will be played to death on the “heavier” radio shows, and it’s bound to be a knockout “live”.

It must be said that the lyrics disappoint slightly – but only because it’s so hard to make them out. Mick Jagger has been criticised before for his slovenly diction, yet he shows no sign of changing. So once again, on behalf of the loyal fans who will pay thirty shillings for the new LP, I appeal to you, Mick: please, please sing the words more clearly!

And what words they are! They’re based on the true story of the Boston Strangler, a crazy cat who gets his kicks tying rope around chicks’ necks, and this gives Mick the chance to go to town with some wild screams and squawks.

Those lyrics that are intelligible are really way-out. “I’m called a hit-and-run raper in anger… I’ll stick my fingers down your throat,” he growls, and blows his mouth organ like mad.

Say what you like about the Stones – after six years in the recording business, they keep surprising us.

VERDICT: This will really grab you by the throat!

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