Tag Archives: Let it Bleed

Keith Richards’ Best Guitar Songs

I’m currently in the middle of Keith Richards’ memoir Life, and so far it’s pretty awesome.  I’ll probably review it when I’m actually done.   I’ve always known that good ol’ Keith is an amazing guitarist, and has come up with some of the best riffs in rock, but I had no idea how inventive he actually was in achieving his signature sound.  In Life he describes an opening tuning using the G chord, and removing one of the strings.  He also reveals that “Street Fighting Man” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” were actually played on an acoustic guitar obtaining the distortion through a cassette player.

I’ve only played a little guitar, so I can’t comment about the technical aspect, but here are what I think are some of Keith’s finest moments (and not necessarily the “big” songs either.)

Can’t You Hear Me Knocking

A contender for the most bad-ass riff of all time.  It’s loud and dirty, but also leaves a little bit of breathing room to showcase some of Charlie Watt’s best drumming.  Mick Taylor make take over the second half of the song with his fluid leads, but the song is probably best remembered for the riff.

The Last Time

The main riff is hypnotic in its repetition.  It practically moves the song is constant circles, which may also suit the songs lyrics. “This could be the last time, Baby the last time, I don’t know.”

Monkey Man

Some of Keith’s best playing (since he recorded all of the parts for this song and most of Let it Bleed).  There’s the chunky blues riff which drives the verses, the buzz-saw riffing during the bridge, and the slide-guitar solo at the end.

Sweet Virgina

The ultimate camp-fire song.  Keith has often talked about how if you play guitar, you need to start playing acoustic.  The song is a perfect example of that.  The slide-guitar gives the song a down-home country feel.  Even without the background singers, the feel of the song alone begs for people to come together and just play and sing.

Midnight Rambler

The Stones definitely got a lot inspiration from the Chicago Bluesman, and some of their originals could even be passed for old blues standards.  But “Midnight Rambler” is the dark hear of the blues.  While a lot of people probably prefer the faster (and more well known) live version, I’m going to go with the album version here.  By being slightly slower, tension is created by the spaces left between the notes.

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Unreleased Tracks

 

I’ve stated before that I’m pretty excited about this re-issue.  Exile on Main St is one of my favorite album by the Rolling Stones.  While Let it Bleed and Sticky Fingers might be better song-for-song, I find Exile to be an older and wiser version of Beggar’s Banquet.  Both albums incorporated blues and country into the frame-work, but while Beggar’s Banquet only sees these musical forms as inspiration, Exile exists as  soul, blues, and country all in one album.   It’s a fully realized piece of work where it’s not the Rolling Stones playing blues, country, or soul.  This blues, country and soul played by the Rolling Stones.  (And there is a huge difference, believe me.)

Rolling Stone has a lengthy interview with Mick and Keith about the re-issue.  I’m not going to decipher and analyze the interview here, because it might only interest me.  However, what did strike me about it was how reissues of albums differ from reissues of other forms of art-forms.   On albums like Exile unreleased tracks offer an inside view into the thought process that is taking place while recording an album.  It’s the same reason why the Beatles’ Anthologies and Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series remain endlessly fascinating for fans and critics.  With very few exceptions, the same can’t be said for authors of books and other artists.  Musicians don’t seem as guarded about their work as writers sometimes are.  Not many authors are willing to put their first draft or first story out for their audience to read.  

Of course this doesn’t mean that I want to spend time listening to every musician’s unreleased song.  There’s usually a reason why said songs are left off albums.  But in the case of geniuses like the Stones,  I’ll make exceptions.

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Exile on Main St. Re-Issue

This has me super excited.  Album that got really got me into the Stones (though I do prefer Let it Bleed song for song).  Interested to see the bonus tracks.  Not sure whether I’ll get the DVD though.

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