With nine tracks clocking in just over 42 minutes, The Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed was the sound of the band signing off from the 1960s in all of their dark, lusty glory and the first album released since the sudden passing of Brian Jones.
As far as opening and closing an album, it doesn’t get much better than “Gimme Shelter” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” With the blistering vocals of Merry Clayton and the angelic tones of the London Bach Choir, it is the perfect example of “In like a lion, out like a lamb.”
Add in the bluesy cool of “Midnight Rambler…”
…The twanged-up take on “Honky Tonk Women” in “Country Honk…”
…And the one-two punch of raunch on “Live With Me” and the title track…
And you have not just one of the best albums the Stones ever made but one of the greatest albums of all time.
Little did the Stones know, however, that this album would indirectly provide the soundtrack to one of the most tragic moments in rock history.
The Altamont Speedway Free Festival kicked off just after the release of Let It Bleed. The chaotic concert that infamously featured the Hells Angels as security resulted in countless injuries and four deaths, including the stabbing death of 18-year-old Meredith Hunter by Hells Angel Alan Passaro. Hunter’s death was captured by the on-site film crew and shown in the documentary Gimme Shelter.
Despite the somber stamp it leaves on pop culture and rock history, Let It Bleed’s diversity helps pave the way for a new era for The Rolling Stones and the creation of two more masterpiece albums in the next three years.
Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock blogger that loves the smell of old vinyl in the morning.