The Rolling Stones – Goats Head Soup (1973): Review

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Produced by Jimmy Miller
Label – Rolling Stones

In many critics’ eyes, this is where the downhill slide began for The Rolling Stones. The album was always going to struggle to live up to the predecessor “Exile On Main Street”, which many consider was the pinnacle of their career. The band had very little to prove by 1973, and that may be why the recording has a certain ambiguity due to a number of reasons. There are certainly some excellent songs here, but the performances seem languid, bathed in a mixture of Rock star excess and a comfortable realisation that the band needed very little inspiration to create an album that would sell large quantities come what may. It’s well known that at the time Keith Richards was hopelessly addicted to drugs and booze, and Bill Wyman’s input was becoming less and less frequent with each record. The other noticeable point remains that the band actually wrote very little for “Goats Head Soup”. Most of the songs were written two or three years before and were re-recorded and overdubbed by long standing producer Jim Miller with loyal support from guitarist Mick Taylor.

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It’s unusual for a Rolling Stones album not to be remembered for a classic rock workout, but in the case of “Goats Head Suit”, the beautiful longing ode to Keith Richards’ girlfriend Anita Pallenberg (“Angie”) is by far the star attraction. The song remains one of the bands’ most affecting ballads and deservedly topped the charts in the U.S.A. “100 Years” has the nagging melodic insistence of a pop classic from their late 60’s heyday, “Coming Down Again” is a dreamy country style ballad that may refer to chemical excess, and contains a top class group instrumental performance. The closer “Star Star” harks back to previous greatness and sounds like one of the lost “Exile On Main Street” tracks, as the band pick up on a blatantly stolen Chuck Berry riff and groove and funk as only the Stones can. The sleazy sneer at the groupies who hung around the band and the reference to Ali McGraw “giving head” to Steve McQueen would ensure controversy all round. Yet for all the good there is an amount of mediocrity, and the dull “Dancing With Mr D”, the lumpy “Hide Your Love”, and the indulgent messy cacophony of “Can You Hear The Music ?” show a band who were slowly getting sucked into the excessive world of rock star decadence.

In their arrested infancy, The Stones could still be strangely convincing, but burning the candle at both ends was starting to show, and for many “Goats Head Soup” marked the beginning of the lean period.

7/10

Track Listing
1. “Dancing with Mr. D” 4:53
2. “100 Years Ago” 3:59
3. “Coming Down Again” 5:54
4. “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” 3:26
5. “Angie” 4:33
6. “Silver Train” 4:27
7. “Hide Your Love” 4:12
8. “Winter” 5:30
9. “Can You Hear the Music” 5:31
10. “Star Star” 4:25

Angie

Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)

See Also…

The Rolling Stones – The Rolling Stones (1964): Review

Hackskeptic’s 500 Greatest Songs: The Rolling Stones – Honky Tonk Women (1969)

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