Beggars Banquet (1968) - The Rolling Stones - All About the Album

"Beggars Banquet" is a cohesive work in style and spirit, and all tracks are easily recognizable on their own - after all, each with its own differences...

Classic album of The Rolling Stones "Beggars Banquet"

Beggars Banquet is a legendary classic album by The Rolling Stones. The studio work of the cult rock band saw the light at the end of 1968: the disc marked the return of the Rollings to rhythm and blues roots, which appealed to loyal fans ... Almost all the songs were written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. "Beggars Banquet" also became the last album recorded with the participation of Brian Jones, who tragically died in the summer of 1969... Let's remember the history of its creation.

Style, content...

The Rolling Stones early in their career...
The Rolling Stones early in their career...

Today, most critics call "Beggars Banquet" the best record in the career of The Rolling Stones ... And indeed: this is an excellent album in every respect: a great rock and roll record, a significant achievement both in lyrics and in music! The Rolling Stones are justifiably proud of this work, which marked a return to their more classic sound after previous psychedelic experiments. As the band members themselves stated, "Beggars' Banquet" "changed everything for The Rolling Stones."

Mick Jagger
Mick Jagger

One of the interesting features of the sessions was that Mick sang a lot live - that is, he recorded a vocal track simultaneously with instrumental compositions, and did not overlay vocals on an already recorded number. This little thing intangibly but definitely enhances the feel and sound of the record. Another notable aspect of the album was the portraits the band commissioned from photographer Michael Joseph for the gatefold cover. Photographs reminiscent of the Old Masters show The Rolling Stones dressed in outlandish clothing that seemed to confuse '60s London Swinging with Dickensian scoundrels.

Brian Jones
Brian Jones

"Beggars Banquet" is a cohesive work in style and spirit, and all the tracks are easily recognizable on their own - after all, each with its own differences. "Factory Girl" is a simple song with very simple lyrics about a cat waiting in the rain for its owner, a factory girl. This number, by the way, has a country violin. "Parachute Woman" is only a mild blues on the surface, but it's actually an R&B number with strong harmonica echoes... Although this record marked the beginning of perfection for The Rolling Stones, this album is the last time the founding and original leader of the group - Brian Jones, who drowned seven months after the release of "Beggars Banquet" at the age of 27...


The Rolling Stones (photo shoot for the spread of the album Beggars Banquet...)
The Rolling Stones (photo shoot for the spread of the album Beggars Banquet…)

Mick Jagger brought the unmixed master tapes for the new album to Los Angeles in mid-July 1968. With him came Jimmy Miller, a 27-year-old American who was the producer of all the bands that Steve Winwood was in and who the Stones signed to help them with this album. Mick also brought with him the cover for the upcoming album, which inspired the title of the record in many ways ... The best frame for the photo with a double spread on the inside was a photo of the Stones dressed as scenery and atmosphere… The photo will be printed in dark brown, and only a few things (like cherries in a bowl) will be tinted pink, like postcards from the 1920s. Although the record itself was recorded at Olympic Studios in London in the spring, they brought it to California for final processing. Once the material had already been mixed in London, but they were so unhappy with it that they called Glyn Jones, their in-house engineer, to redo the mix. Jones was in Los Angeles producing the second Steve Miller Band album, and Mick brought the tapes there: they were mixed in mid-July from evening until four or five in the morning for about a week, after the Miller Band sessions at Studio 3, located in Hollywood. There, behind the walls of Studio 3, two and three years ago, the Stones recorded parts of their early albums.

List of songs

The Rolling Stones (photo shoot for the spread of the album Beggars Banquet...)
The Rolling Stones (photo shoot for the spread of the album Beggars Banquet…)

«Sympathy for the Devil»

The album's famous opening track "Sympathy For The Devil" was written while Mick Jagger was reading about the occult. He and Keith Richards - who co-wrote nine of the ten tracks for "Beggars Banquet" - originally gave the song the less shocking working title "The Devil Is My Name". In their powerful lyrics, the Stones present the emergence of Satan at decisive moments in history: there are references to the crucifixion of Christ, the Russian Revolution, World War II, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Musically, the song is also notable for the piano work of session master Nicky Hopkins.

"No Expectations"

"No Expectations" is probably the best of the songs in the classical sense of the song. It's a very cohesive country ballad, but very flowing. The lyrics are simple but elegant:

"Take me to the airport,
Get on the plane.
I have no hope of going through here again…”

"Dear Doctor"

Parachute Woman

Jigsaw Puzzle

This track shows the strong influence of Dylan:

"A tramp sits on my doorstep,
Who tries to waste his time...
He is a walking rope.
Here comes the bishop's daughter
On the other side.
She looks a little jealous.
She's been an outcast all her life..."

"Street Fighting Man"

"Prodigal Son"

The Prodigal Son is an almost biblical story about a son who leaves home and then returns. This is done in a modern way, although some things are taken straight from the Bible. Mick sings it in a deep southern voice, accompanied by harp and acoustic guitar.

Stray Cat Blues

"Factory Girl"

"Salt of the Earth"

There are many brilliant guitar solos on "Beggars Banquet" by Richards, who said that the five-string session tuning he discovered at the time helped him improve his playing. Richards recalled:

“The tuning really inspired me, it changed my life. I got into a kind of buffer. I just really thought I didn't achieve anything from direct live tuning…”

Richards also used the technique on later Stones hits such as "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Start Me Up". As for "Beggars Banquet", the only song not written by Jagger and Richards was "Prodigal Son", composed by Mississippi bluesman Robert Wilkins back in 1929. Wilkins was 72 years old when the Stones paid homage to his work and enjoyed a pay raise. Each track from the album took from three to four to eight to nine hours. Most of the songs were pre-written, so studio time wasn't busy. One track is currently untitled, but was originally called "Silver Blanket".


"Beggars Banquet" is a top-notch rock 'n' roll work that also exemplifies the core musical and aesthetic values of the genre. These values have been present in all the great rock 'n' roll records of the past, and their importance will probably not fade with time... "Perfect art! That satisfying spontaneity that can only be achieved through deep thought…” is the perfect description of this iconic record!

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