Newest Review: ... on this LP are heavily steeped in the country sound of the Old West. 'No Expectations' woozes along to some dreamy slide guitar, and after ... more
Heavily Blues Influenced Rock
Beggars Banquet - The Rolling Stones
Member Name: DWMayeaux
Beggars Banquet - The Rolling Stones
Advantages: Getting back to their rhythm and blues roots
The Rolling Stone formed in 1962 with the original line compromising guitarists Brian Jones and Keith Richards, pianist Ian Stewart, singer Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts on percussion and Bill Wyman playing bass. They were heavily influenced by the Blues and R n' B and listed their musical heroes as Jimmy Read, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Fats Domino amongst others.
The band was originally formed and lead by Jones, but he soon found himself background to old school friends Jagger and Richards who teamed up to make a now legendary song writing duo. Famed for their sulky defiance and unkempt appearance they had reached fame with their first number one international hit '(I can't get no) Satisfaction' three years before this album was released in 1968. 'Beggar's Banquet was hailed as a return to their R n' B roots and was the last album featuring Brian Jones before his tragic death. Despite Jones' problems and the arrests of Jagger, Richards and Jones the year before the album reached number 3 in the UK charts and number 5 in the US.
This was the first album where Richards used his famous open tuning (often in conjunction with a capo). It was produced by Jimmy Miller who also produced for Spencer Davis Group. Due to an error in the mastering the original recording was slower than it should have been. Re-released in 2002 the re-mastered version was 30 seconds shorter.
Mick Jagger - Vocals, backing vocals and harmonica
Keith Richards - Acoustic and electric guitar, bass and vocals
Brian Jones - Acoustic slide guitar, backing vocals, sitar, tamboura, mellotron and harmonica
Charlie Watts - drums and percussion
Bill Wyman - Bass, backing vocals and percussion
Nicky Hopkins - Piano
Rocky Dijon - Congas
Ric Grech - Fiddle
Dave Mason - Mellotron and shehani
Jimmy Miller - Backing vocals
Watts Street Gospel Choir - Backing vocals
All songs were written by Jagger and Richards apart from 'Prodigal Son' which was written by Reverend Robert Wilkins.
Sympathy for the Devil
'I watched with glee
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades
For the gods they made'
At the time of release The Stones were already being critised for their satanic leanings and 'Sympathy ...' bought fresh rumours of them corrupting the young. It was written from the first person perspective with Jagger taking centre stage as the devil. This track was inspired by 'The Master and the Margarita' by Mikhail Bulgahov. It took 2 days to record and a further three days for the overdubbing. It is a folk song in composition, but the extra percussion from bongos and shakers turned it into a samba giving it a more playful mood along with the joyful vocals. It is largely blues based with the vocals backed by a simple, short lived piano melody. The backing vocals come in for the third verse and chorus and continue until the end punctuating the end of each four bar line. There are no guitars until the bridge where it takes the form of a simple solo punctuated by ambient backing vocals. The guitar comes back for the outro along with the bass and a more involved piano piece as the vocals increase in pitch and become more erratic and emotion. It was covered by Janes Addiction, Ozzy Osbourne and Guns and Roses and was listed at number 32 in Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Songs in 2004.
'Your heart is like a diamond
You throw your pearls at swine.'
A slow blues ballad tinted with country, this track was recorded live with open microphones resulting in a slight echo of each of the other instruments on each individual microphone. The entire track builds up layers of instrumentation each playing a slight variation on the same simple melody. The vocals are more gentle and natural sounding than subsequent tracks turning a blues track to an almost 'pretty' tune. A meandering and melancholy track, strongly contrasting with the album opener, it is lead by slide guitar aided by a lonesome piano melody. An acoustic slide guitar uses open tuning contributes to the lonely mood together with claves percussion while another guitar strums blues chords. It was covered by Johnny Cash, Joan Boaz and Soulsavers (with Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan).
'Oh help me, please doctor I'm damaged
There's a pain where there once was a heart'
A guitar based acoustic track with tack piano, 12 string, harmonica, tambourine and upright bass, all following the same basic melody and rhythm for this humorous narrative. Jagger puts on a terrible fake American hick accent for a light hearted pastiche of the Deep South. It has a plodding rhythm with tweaks and bursts of melody from the harmonica controlled by the rhythm guitar. There is a reprise for the penultimate verse with harmonised vocals before the final chorus and verse give the narrative its punch line.
'Parachute woman, will you blow me out?
My heavy throbber's itchin' '
A slow blues track that is heavy with thinly veiled sexual innuendos. It was double tracked on a cassette player to give more depth and leaves the track feeling raw. Also features an upright bass that keeps the track steady. It displays bizarre sounding vocals with heavily blues influenced rhythm guitar and a playful harmonica that plays the track out to fade.
'Oh the gangster looks so frightening
With his luger in his hand
When he gets home to his children
He's a family man'
This track is often compared to the work of Bob Dylan with its surreal narrative in short verse. It draws on country blues for inspiration, but lacks musical development and becomes a monotonous blues track. There is no distinct chorus, just a repeated verse with no change in the melody. The lines are punctuated by the bass, off key guitars and a honky tonk piano that gives it an eerie feel, but it's the bass which holds the track together. The percussion is upbeat, following the rhythm of the piano. The vocals are gentler than usual, almost whispered in places. They meander in places using elongated syllables and wavers at the end of lines. The bass riff is simple, but gives the track character. A pratical bass hold the track together while surrounded eerie guitars and off beat piano. Overall the track is upbeat and gently enjoyable, though it has never been performed live.
Street Fighting Man
'Well what can poor boy do
Except sing for a rock and roll band'
Possibly their most political song, it is allegedly about Tariq Ali (a British-Pakistani historian and political campaigner) and influenced by the riots in Paris and America at the time. It was originally titles 'Did Everybody pay their dues?' and was covered by Rage Against the Machine, Rod Stewart and Motley Crew and inspired "I'm Free" on The Who's 'Tommy'. It is instantly absorbing with catchy riff and vocals. The most immediately striking thing is the layers of instrumentation creating a 'wall of sound'. It opens with a strummed acoustic riff, offbeat drums and an urgent guitar rhythm that remains a main stay of the verses. There is also a distinctive sitar and tambours provided by Jones giving extra depth. Percussion on the whole is chaotic (especially towards the end) held together by the drum. Altogether the instrumentation is upbeat and happy with catchy vocals. Towards the end there is a feeling of celebration and togetherness.
'Kill that calf and call the family round
My son was lost but now he is found'
Written by Reverend Robert Wilkins, a blues guitarist and vocalist of African American and Cherokee descent. He enjoyed some fame in the 1920 and 30s and then had a revival in the 60s. The track is distinctly blues right from the first few bars with acoustic guitars, upright bass and repetitive melody. In mood is surprisingly fast paced and upbeat given it's a biblical narrative. The lyrics are traditionally blues in composition with repeated lines at the beginning of each verse and the last line rising in pitch for emphasis and the vocals themselves changing to an indistinct rumbling reminiscent of the old blues stars. The up beat blues rhythm leads the track and is catchy and irresistible.
Stray Cat Blues
'Bet your mama don't know you scream like that
I bet your mother don't know you bite like that'
This rather disturbing first person tale of a man pining after a 15-year-old girl was inspired by The Velvet Underground's 'Heroin' and was covered by Soundgarden on the B-side to 'Jesus Christ Pose'. It has a prominent hi-hat, droning piano, sulky vocals and distorted electric blues guitar. A third voice comes in as an explosion of emotion with an epiphany of noise which climaxes and quietens down for the next verse. The bass comes through for the long outro backed by vocals and percussion. The guitar slowly drifts back for a basic solo and take the track to a fading finish.
'Waiting for s girl and she gets me into fights
Waiting for a girl we get drunk on Friday nights'
A Celtic folk sound with minimal arrangement. After a gentle acoustic intro a playful fiddle takes centre stage with a distinct sitar. In strong contrast to the previous track, the mood of the piece is simple and sweet with a innocent simplisity in both the lyrics and instrumentation.
Salt of the Earth
'Raise a glass to the good and the evil
Lets drink to the salt of the earth'
Opening with lead vocals from Richards, then moving back to Jagger for the second, this track is a salute to the common workers of the world. It has a simple a catchy vocal melody with a choir backing the main vocals giving the track depth. There is a real sense of the Blues about the piano, but this loses composition after the bridge to become faster and more intense. It is an all enveloping track displaying rhythm and blues and gospel influences even before the choir comes in for the second half. There is a key change for the outro as the pace increases and the piano leads a slow fade to finish.
Summary: Leaves you begging for more.