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The Rock-Freak A Few Rushes

By Salahuddin I. Imam

YOU KNOW I don't think the full Significance of Let it Bleed has dawned yet on any of us. The album was released about four months ago; we got it green and appetizing, it ripened quickly into prime yellow and as it moved through time, acquired the characteristic rich brown brocade textures of old age. But collected experiences usually start to smell of rot in due time. Except that it doesn't seem to be happening at all with Let it Bleed does it? The experience of playing it on the trusty Gramophone is still amazingly (by turns) uplifting and sobering and (always) worthwhile. Fruitful, one might even say....

... Reminds me incredibly of Sgt. Pepper's which also lingered on and on for months in my mind haunting me with its associations before it finally took on that distinctive sheen of timelessness. Yeah actually that's a good comparison because the Stones have finally learnt with this album, as did the Beatles then (and Dylan before them all with Blonde on Blonde ), exactly how to affect people in the most profound manner possible, by hitting them where they are most vulnerable, where it hurts....

... Let it Bleed is such a theatrical album. The Stones striking these exaggerated, as always, postures but this time around it's really momentous, important that they do. "Live with Me" so much more to the point than "Parachute Woman, land on me..." given our times, and "Let it Bleed" over "Jigsaw Puzzle" any day, given our days...

... It's really useful (nothing to complain about, as some have) to think of Let it Bleed as a re-done version of Beggar's Banquet . Track by track the songs from each correspond but in the later album they are all operating at a distinctly higher level of stagecraft and awareness, making it as transcendentally mellow as the first was strung-out and earthbound. Not that I'm putting down Beggar's Banquet in the slightest . It's just that having once lavished its spiritual miseries upon us the Stones had no graceful direction left to go but up. The next album will be, Jagger says, "more American, more flashy" and that also sounds just about right....

... Sgt. Pepper's was the recognition of the problem and the Beatles spent themselves exploring it. The Stones are too cagey for that and Let it Bleed comes whole, with the problem both stated and then briskly, matter-of-factly solved. Thus "Monkey Man"-the song of assured salvation, utter contentment. In Which The Messrs. Stone (Sans Brian) Express Their Complete Satisfaction. Followed immediately by "You Can't Always Get What You Want, but if you try you just might find you can get what you need." Lesson: You can always get what you need . Moral: You had best look to your needs and forget about all those other things out there, y'know....

... Marx knew it too. "To each according to his needs" PERIOD. He was so far ahead of his times, the poor man....

... Musically Let it Bleed is the great rock and roll masterpiece. On this album the Stones demonstrate their complete mastery of the technique of the long cut. Every song on it, and particularly "Monkey Man," goes through incredible rhythmic modulations just when the need for them is subliminally felt and each time the song comes soaring into new life and each time Richards bangs in these wildly enchanting guitar lines right on cue. And, as a special favor to me, listen to the album once through with Bill Wyman's bass in hard focus. The Stones really do have the 1 spot all wrapped up this decade around....

... And what of the Beatles then? Now that they no longer exist, for the moment at least, as a Group? It's funny. We always used to speculate about how the Beatles would break up and we imagined it would be some kind of a definite, apocalyptic event. But things happen so naturally in real life. Under our noses the Beatles drifted apart and we didn't even see it happening. Just suddenly the stark realization one day that the Beatles of old are no longer the same. Lennon and McCartney (not to mention Mr. Starr) have revealed themselves to be so far apart these days that it is almost hard to believe that they were once together. I guess we'll just have to believe our eyes when the new movie is finally released. Or maybe it has happened for the better and we can look forward to four albums where we used to get only one. Or maybe we're just in for a prolonged period of retrenchment on their part, at the end of which they will find themselves in a recording studio sniffing deliriously at the scent of something new again....

... We should all have guessed what was happening when Abbey Road and the Get Back tapes showed that they just weren't working too hard anymore together. You have to work in rock and roll. The Stones work. You saw the amused awe Godard felt at the intensity and seriousness of the Stones in a recording studio....

... Such mad days we have seen, Jesu. Such mad days.

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