Let It Bleed and Exile On Main Street remain my favorite two Rolling Stones albums and are considered to be two of the best rock albums of all time.
It was a different Rolling Stones that entered the studio to create Let It Bleed. Brian Jones had been fired from the band and only contributed on two tracks. He would be replaced by Mick Taylor, who also would contribute on two songs. Thus, it would be basically a four person quartet who would put this all time classic album together.
Mick Taylor would bring his blues guitar virtuosity to the group and prove to be the perfect foil to Keith Richards. While Taylor was not skilled at the seemingly endless number of instruments Brian Jones was, what he could do was play the guitar almost as well as anyone in the world. Taylor would force Keith Richards to be a better guitarist so as not to be embarrassed. This guitar duo of Richards and Taylor would be responsible for some of the of the best rock ‘n’ roll ever produced.
Mick Taylor’s first contribution to The Rolling Stones sound was on the classic single “Honky Tonk Women,” which was released several months before Let It Bleed. This brilliant song featured the dual guitars of Richards and Taylor, a solid foundation by Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman, and an inspired Mick Jagger vocal rocking above it all. “Honky Tonk Women” would be another single release only and not be included on the studio album.
“Gimme Shelter” is almost a companion piece to “Sympathy For The Devil.” It is another ominous song by The Stones that brings the 1960s to a close. The Stones were saying that flower power and the summer of love were gone and the Vietnam era had arrived. Merry Clayton’s screaming vocal compliments Mick Jagger and sets the tone for not only this album but for the next several years.