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Beggars Banquet is the seventh British and ninth American studio album by the English rock band The Rolling Stones. It was released in December 1968 by Decca Records in the United Kingdom and London Records in the United States. It marked a return to the band's R&B roots, generally viewed as more primal than the conspicuous psychedelia of Their Satanic Majesties Request. It also started off a string of four LPs that is usually regarded as the band's finest work.
Following the long sessions for Their Satanic Majesty's Request in 1967 and the departure of producer and manager Andrew Loog Oldham, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards hired producer Jimmy Miller, who had produced the Spencer Davis Group and Traffic. The partnership would prove to be a success and Miller would work with the band until 1973.
In March, the band began recording their new album, aiming for a July release. One of the first tracks cut, "Jumpin' Jack Flash", was released only as a single in May 1968, becoming a major hit.
Beggars Banquet was Brian Jones' last full effort with the Rolling Stones. In addition to his slide guitar on "No Expectations", he played harmonica on "Dear Doctor", "Parachute Woman" (along with Mick Jagger) and "Prodigal Son"; sitar and tambura on "Street Fighting Man"; mellotron on "Jigsaw Puzzle"and "Stray Cat Blues", and sang backing vocals on "Sympathy for the Devil". Jones also played an acoustic guitar part on Sympathy for the Devil, but it is not audible in the final mix of the song.
On 7 June 1968, a photoshoot for the album, with photographer Michael Joseph, was held at Sarum Chase, a mansion in London. Previously unseen images from the shoot were exhibited at the Blink Gallery in London in November and December 2008. On 9 September 1968, an WABC Radio News report stated that the release was delayed due to artwork for the album cover; a California artist's work was considered "too dirty to release".
Critics considered the LP as a return to form. It was also a clear commercial success, reaching No. 3 in the UK and No. 5 in the US (on the way to eventual platinum status).
Early LP pressings of the album did not credit Rev. Robert Wilkins as the writer of "Prodigal Son" although the Stones' original "bathroom" cover did. The error was corrected on later pressings. Wilkins' performance of "Prodigal Son" at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival was included on the Vanguard LP Blues at Newport, Volume 2; that performance is similar to the Stones' cover.
On 10–11 December 1968 the band filmed a television extravaganza entitled The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus featuring John Lennon, Eric Clapton, The Who, Jethro Tull, and Marianne Faithfull among the musical guests. One of the original aims of the project was to promote Beggars Banquet, but the film was shelved by the Rolling Stones until 1996, when it was finally released officially.
In August 2002, ABKCO Records reissued Beggars Banquet as a newly remastered LP and SACD/CD hybrid disk. This release corrected an important flaw in the original album by restoring each song to its proper, slightly faster speed. Due to an error in the mastering, Beggars Banquet was heard for over thirty years at a slower speed than it was recorded. This had the effect of altering not only the tempo of each song, but the song's key as well. These differences were subtle but important, and the remastered version is about 30 seconds shorter than the original release. It was released once again in 2010 by Universal Music Enterprises in a Japanese only SHM-SACD version.
In 2003, the album was ranked number 57 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In the same year the TV network VH1 named Beggars Banquet the 67th greatest album of all time. The album is also featured in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
By June, the sessions were nearly completed in England, with some final overdubbing and mixing to be done in Los Angeles during July. However, both Decca Records in England and London Records in the US rejected the planned cover design – a graffiti-covered lavatory wall. The band initially refused to change the cover, resulting in several months' delay in the release of the album. By November, however, the Rolling Stones gave in, allowing the album to be released in December with a simple white cover imitating an invitation card, complete with an RSVP. For those aware of the cover intrigue, an advertisement in the back of Rolling Stone magazine soon announced that "the Stones want you to have the banned cover" allowing completists to buy the original artwork as a full front and back album slick that they could glue or tape over the released version. Meanwhile, the idea of a plain album cover was also implemented by The Beatles for their eponymous white-sleeved double-album, which was released one month prior to Beggars Banquet. The similarity garnered widespread accusations of Beatle-esque imitation when Beggars Banquet was finally released. In 1984, the original cover art was released with the initial CD remastering of Beggars Banquet.
All songs written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards except where noted.
- The Rolling Stones
- Mick Jagger – lead and backing vocals, harmonica on "Parachute Woman"
- Keith Richards – acoustic, electric and slide guitar, bass guitar on "Sympathy for the Devil" and "Street Fighting Man", backing vocals, lead vocals on opening of "Salt of the Earth"
- Brian Jones – slide guitar on "No Expectations", "Jigsaw Puzzle", and "Stray Cat Blues", mellotron on "Jigsaw Puzzle" and "Stray Cat Blues", harmonica on "Dear Doctor", "Parachute Woman", and "Prodigal Son", sitar and tambura on "Street Fighting Man", acoustic guitar (inaudible in final mix) and backing vocals on "Sympathy for the Devil"
- Charlie Watts – drums, tabla on "Factory Girl", backing vocals on "Sympathy for the Devil"
- Bill Wyman – bass guitar, upright bass on "Dear Doctor" and "Parachute Woman, backing vocals and maracas on "Sympathy for the Devil"
- Additional personnel
||"Street Fighting Man"
||The Billboard Hot 100
||"Street Fighting Man"
||UK Top 40 Singles