Top positive review
Part of a string of Rolling Stones albums that marks their greatest work
Reviewed in the United States on April 3, 2020
I am reading a fine biography, "Rolling Stones": 50" I will review shortly. As is usual when I read music biographies, I get very interested in the music, where some people are into the gossipy, debauched and crazy behavior angle. However, with the Stones, the two are inseparable, and the fact they created a stunning volume of albums starting with "Beggars Banquet", "Let It Bleed", "Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out", "Sticky Fingers", "Exile On Main Street" and wrapping it up with "Goat's Head Soup" show that their talent and vision couldn't be derailed even in the most toxic situations, usually around Keith Richards, who famously was in the throes of a prolonged heroin addiction, not to mention any other recreational substance that was within reach, but still managed to stay alive and write some great music.
Where "Exile On Main Street" was a very gruff affair, and full of bluesy power, "Goat's Head Soup" carried the same intensity but introduced some funky keyboards courtesy of Billy Preston, and rocks as hard as anything the band ever did. "Dancin' With Mr. D." starts off with a blues lurch, and the real rocking gets going with "Heartbreaker" and a funked up horn section that propels the tune into the stratosphere.
One ballad, the hit "Angie", written by Keith Richards, was discouraged by their label at first as a single, but the band insisted, and the song today is one of their most beautiful tracks, not exactly what you'd expect from Keith especially at the time. "Silver Train" keeps the rock and roll humming, and after a few slower tunes, the album closes with the infamous "Star Star", and the salacious chorus I won't repeat here. But aside from the swipe at the jet set society from Jagger, which is a bit disingenuous considering he was a major league rock and roll playboy as much as Richards was a strung out junkie, the song is one of their most lively and furious rockers.
The Stones would falter a bit after this, but regroup for the excellent "Some Girls" after a couple questionable albums, "Black and Blue" still one of the most debated as an overlooked classic or a real low point for them. But "Goat's Head Soup", while not usually hyped very much, is a superb album, and is truly among their greatest albums. Why punkers would shortly start criticizing the Stones as old "farts", it is really quite hypocritical for those bands to do so, when one considers that while the Beatles, Beach Boys and The Dave Clark Five had the pop scene pretty well nailed down, The Stones represented the raunchy side of the street - the hard blues, country hard livin' on several tunes that nobody in Nashville today could begin to touch, and real garage band mentality, with their very rough and tough edge. Punk simply was not possible with the garage bands they did acknowledge, but for all who love that edgy side of rock and roll, denying The Rolling Stones is like insisting the earth is still flat.