The Rolling Stones - Beggars Banquet - Review
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critics' view

There’s not a single track which lets this album down – it’s a corker. The seventh proper Stones LP arrived in the last month of ’68 – they took their time with this one – and the high quality results were tangible. Now distanced from the psychedelic craze of ’67, these ten territorial pissings leave no doubt as to where this beast stands – firmly entrenched in Rock Valley, Bluesville.

It’s the beginning of the end for the group’s founder Brian Jones, who was drifting in and out of sessions on account of personal problems, most especially with drug abuse. Producer Jimmy Miller commented: “When he would show up at a session – let's say he had just bought a star that day, he'd feel like playing it, so he'd look in his calendar to see if the Stones were in. Now he may have missed the previous four sessions. We'd be doing let's say, a blues thing. He'd walk in with a sitar, which was totally irrelevant to what we were doing, and want to play it. I used to try to accommodate him. I would isolate him, put him in a booth and not record him onto any track that we really needed. And the others, particularly Mick and Keith, would often say to me, 'Just tell him to piss off and get the hell out of here'.” In spite of the background, Brian plays his part on 8 of the 10 tracks, including the album’s outstanding highlight, “Street Fighting Man”, which features both his sitar and tamboura. Never ones for being overtly political, this was a real statement from the group. Anti-Vietnam sentiment was everywhere at this time: “But what can a poor boy do, 'cept sing in a rock and roll band.” Wow. It’s certainly doing something Mick. The group have rarely sounded so muscular.

On “Beggars Banquet”, The Rolling Stones are at the very peak of their oft-mighty powers. To all intents and purposes this would be Brian’s last full album – it’s kinda nice to know that he was involved in such a high water mark.

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