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The Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed 50th Anniversary Edition album review

The Rolling Stones’ 60s high-water mark Let It Bleed, now in a multi-format package with extras

The Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed
(Image: © The Rolling Stones)

If the Rolling Stones inadvertently slammed the coffin lid shut on the 60s with the disaster that was Altamont, then Let It Bleed, the band’s eighth UK album and released the day before, was a focused summation of the turbulent times both within and beyond the band. 

Founder Brian Jones was out, his replacement Mick Taylor was coming in, and the scenes of televised violence from Vietnam and more suffused the Stones’ music. 

Fifty years on, Let It Bleed has lost none of its power to thrill and shock in equal measure. Like Gimme Shelter, Midnight Rambler remains an eldritch contradiction which combines horrific imagery with an irresistible groove. 

Elsewhere, the outré mores of Live With Me – the first song recorded with Taylor and saxophonist Bobby Keys – are tempered by targeting the hips, although You Got The Silver’s concerns seems quaint in comparison. 

But it all adds up to a filler-free classic. Containing mono and stereo vinyl versions as well as SACD counterparts, this anniversary edition is bolstered with a mono seven-inch of Honky Tonk Women and an 80-page book illustrated with previously unseen photos. 

A mark is deducted for the lack of out-takes which are available illicitly elsewhere.

Julian Marszalek is the former Reviews Editor of The Blues Magazine. He has written about music for Music365, Yahoo! Music, The Quietus, The Guardian, NME and Shindig! among many others. As the Deputy Online News Editor at Xfm he revealed exclusively that Nick Cave’s second novel was on the way. During his two-decade career, he’s interviewed the likes of Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and Ozzy Osbourne, and has been ranted at by John Lydon. He’s also in the select group of music journalists to have actually got on with Lou Reed. Marszalek taught music journalism at Middlesex University and co-ran the genre-fluid Stow Festival in Walthamstow for six years.