The Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet – ABKCO

by | May 4, 2023 | Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

ABKCO Music & Records releases an eye-popping swirling color vinyl of a Rolling Stones classic album.

The Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet – Decca/London Records 1968/ABKCO Music & Records 7539.018771214519 [4/22/2023] Exclusive Limited Edition 180-gram vinyl on swirling mass of grey, blue, black and white, includes a replica 11” x 18” poster, 39:44, ***** 

(Mick Jagger – vocals, harmonica; Keith Richards – guitars, slide guitar, bass, vocals; Brian Jones – guitar, slide guitar, sitar, tamboura mellotron, harmonica, percussion, vocals; Charlie Watts – drums, tabla, vocals; Bill Wyman – bass, percussion, vocals; Nicky Hopkins – piano, organ; Dave Mason – mellotron, shehnai; Ry Cooder – mandolin; Jimmy Miller – vocals; Ric Grech – fiddle; Rocky Dijon – congas; and The Watts Street Gospel Choir)

In what may have seemed to be futile, The Rolling Stones were competing directly with the Beatles as the greatest British rock band. In 1967, The Fab Four released the iconic Sgt. Pepper album, challenging musical norms. That same year, The Stones released the psychedelic-tinged Her Majesty’s Satanic Request to disappointing critical reviews. In need of a career rebound, the band returned to the studio in 1968 with a new producer, Jimmy Miller. The result was Beggars Banquet. This album began a phenomenal four record run which immortalized the band. More importantly, this was the most impactful release by the five original members, especially co-founder and multi-instrumentalist Brian Jones (who sadly passed away the following year).

ABKCO Music & Records has released an exclusive limited edition 180-gram colored vinyl of Beggars Banquet. Fifty-five years after its debut, this collection of rock, blues and country songs reverberates with more developed songwriting.  Side One opens with the anthemic “Sympathy For The Devil”. After Rocky Dijon’s and Charlie Watts’ tandem rhythmic grooves, Keith Richards’ trademark guitar riffs take over. Mick Jagger’s growling, menacing vocals translate the misanthropic imagery. Laying down acoustic blues, “No Expectations” has dream-like aesthetics and Jones’ slide guitar adds texture to this plaintive ode to loneliness. With a country feel, “Dear Doctor” is waltz-time acoustic with a humorous vocal take by Jagger. Richards’ funky harmony fits the vibe of the song. On “Parachute Woman”, Richards executes  jagged, electric guitar riffs to enhance this muscular arrangements. Both Jagger and Jones play harp. This side concludes with the electric country aesthetics of “Jig-Saw Puzzle” that includes Nicky Hopkins’ distinctive rock chords and more slide from Richards. Jagger’s imploring vocal is effective.

Rolling Stones, Beggars BanquetSide B kicks off with another Stones anthem, “Street Fighting Man”. It bristles with socio-political angst. With hard-driving Richards acoustic guitar runs, Jagger’s gritty vocals symbolize the anger of 1968. Brian Jones adds sitar and tamboura that expand the swirling arrangement. While the group referenced Delta roots on the album, “Prodigal Son” appears to be a more direct homage to Mississippi with a talking blues vocal and acoustic guitar. In a “preview” of The Rolling Stones trademark late 60’s/early 70’s sound, “Stray Cat Blues” is densely mixed with crashing electric guitars, a counterpoint mellotron and raucous percussion. The final coda is relentless and merges blues with rock viscerally. Dialing back the intensity, “Factory Girls’ utilizes an “Appalachian-inspired” resonance with the addition of Ric Grech on violin and Ry Cooder on mandolin. The versatile Charlie Watts shines on tabla. Jagger’s idiosyncratic delivery lifts the song. The finale, “Salt Of The Earth” has significant gospel inflection. It includes a rare Keith Richards vocal lead on the first verse and The Watts Street Gospel Choir blows the roof off with Sunday Morning intensity. Hopkins piano runs are both lyrical and brawny. The spirited finish is unadulterated blues rock with a gospel accelerator.

Beggars Banquet is the album that started The Rolling Stones on the trajectory as “the world’s greatest rock and roll band”. The “polished, but loose” sound mix would become a staple of the group’s recording catalogue. This dazzling “swirling mass of grey, blue, black and white” vinyl (Teri Landi/Restoration Producer; Bob Ludwig/Gateway Mastering)  will thrill collectors and Stones fans. A gatefold package with the bathroom cover photo and inside weird “dinner” scene captures the rebellious persona of this band that has been recording and touring for 60 years. 

—Robbie Gerson  

The Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet – ABKCO

Side One: Sympathy For The Devil; No Expectations; Dear Doctor; Parachute Woman; Jig-Saw Puzzle
Side Two: Street Fighting Man; Prodigal Son; Stray Cat Blues; Factory Girl; Salt Of The Earth 

More Information through Record Store Day

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