Let It Bleed

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This article is about the 1969 album by The Rolling Stones. For other uses, see Let It Bleed (disambiguation).
Let It Bleed
Studio album by The Rolling Stones
Released 5 December 1969
Recorded November 1968, February – November 1969 at Olympic Studios, London, England
Genre Hard rock, blues,[1] rock[2]
Length 42:13[3]
Language English
Label Decca (UK)
London (US)
Producer Jimmy Miller
The Rolling Stones chronology
Beggars Banquet
Let It Bleed
Sticky Fingers
Singles from Let It Bleed
  1. "Honky Tonk Women"/"You Can't Always Get What You Want"
    Released: July 1969
  2. "Let It Bleed"
    Released: January 1970 (Japan only)

Let It Bleed is the eighth British and tenth American album by the English rock band the Rolling Stones, released in December 1969 by Decca Records in the United Kingdom and London Records in the United States. Released shortly after the band's 1969 American Tour, it is the follow-up to 1968's Beggars Banquet and the last album by the band to feature Brian Jones as well as the first to feature Mick Taylor.


Although the Stones had begun the recording of "You Can't Always Get What You Want" in November 1968, before Beggars Banquet had been released, recording for Let It Bleed began in earnest in February 1969 and would continue sporadically until early November"[4] Brian Jones performs on only two tracks: playing the autoharp on "You Got the Silver", and percussion on "Midnight Rambler". His replacement, Mick Taylor, plays guitar on two tracks, "Country Honk" and "Live With Me". Keith Richards, who had already shared vocal duties with Mick Jagger on "Connection", and sung separate lead vocals on parts of "Something Happened to Me Yesterday" and "Salt of the Earth", sang his first solo lead vocal on a Rolling Stones recording with "You Got the Silver".[5]

Don Heckman of The New York Times characterised the album as "heavy, black-tinged, passionately erotic hard rock/blues."[1] Richie Unterberger, writing for Allmusic, said that it "extends the rock and blues feel of Beggars Banquet into slightly harder-rocking, more demonically sexual territory."[3]


A sample of The Rolling Stones's "You Can't Always Get What You Want" from Let It Bleed

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The cover displays a surreal sculpture designed by Robert Brownjohn.[6] The image consists of the Let It Bleed record being played by the tone-arm of an antique phonograph, and a record-changer spindle supporting several items stacked on a plate in place of a stack of records: a tape canister labelled Stones – Let It Bleed, a clock dial, a pizza, a tyre and a cake with elaborate icing topped by figurines representing the band. The cake parts of the construction were prepared by then-unknown cookery writer Delia Smith.[7] The reverse of the LP sleeve[8] shows the same "record-stack" melange in a state of disarray. The artwork was inspired by the working title of the album, which was Automatic Changer.[9]

The album cover for Let It Bleed was among the ten chosen by the Royal Mail for a set of "Classic Album Cover" postage stamps issued in January 2010.[10][11]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[3]
Entertainment Weekly A[12]
The Great Rock Discography 9/10[13]
MusicHound 5/5 stars[14]
NME 9/10[15]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[16]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars[17]
Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music 5/5 stars[13]

Released in December, Let It Bleed reached No. 1 in the UK (temporarily knocking The Beatles' Abbey Road out of the top slot) and No. 3 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart in the US, where it eventually went 2x platinum. In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone magazine, music critic Greil Marcus said that the middle of the album has "great" songs, but "Gimme Shelter" and "You Can't Always Get What You Want" "seem to matter most" because they "both reach for reality and end up confronting it, almost mastering what's real, or what reality will feel like as the years fade in."[18]

The album was the Stones' last to be released in an official mono version, which is rare and highly sought-after today.

The album was released in US as an LP record, reel to reel tape and 8-track cartridge in 1969, and as a remastered CD in 1986. In August 2002, it was reissued in a remastered CD and SACD digipak by ABKCO Records, and once more in 2010 by Universal Music Enterprises in a Japanese only SHM-SACD version.[19]

In his 2001 Stones biography, Stephen Davis said of the album "No rock record, before or since, has ever so completely captured the sense of palpable dread that hung over its era."[20] Indeed, the day after its 5 December release is the date of the infamous Altamont Free Concert, but the album was critically well received.

Let It Bleed is the second of the Stones' run of four studio LPs that are generally regarded as among their greatest achievements artistically, equalled only by the best of their great 45's from that decade. The other three albums are Beggars Banquet (1968), Sticky Fingers (1971) and Exile on Main St. (1972).[21]

In a retrospective review, NME magazine said that the album "tugs and teases" in various musical directions and called it "a classic".[15] In 2000, Q magazine ranked it at No. 28 in its list of "The 100 Greatest British Albums Ever". In 2001, the TV network VH1 placed Let It Bleed at No. 24 on their best album survey. In 1997, it was voted 27th greatest album by The Guardian. In 2003, it was listed at No. 32 on the "List of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time".[22] In a five-star review for Rolling Stone in 2004, Gavin Edwards praised Keith Richard's guitar playing throughout the album and stated, "Whether it was spiritual, menstrual or visceral, the Stones made sure you went home covered in blood."[16] Jason McNeil of PopMatters wrote that Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed are "the two greatest albums the band’s (or anyone’s) ever made".[23]

Track listing[edit]

The track listing on the back of the album jacket did not follow the one on the album itself. According to Brownjohn, he altered it purely for visual reasons; the correct order was shown on the record's label. Additionally, "Gimme Shelter" is rendered as "Gimmie Shelter" on the jacket.

All songs written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, except "Love in Vain" by Robert Johnson†.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Gimme Shelter" (featuring Merry Clayton) 4:31
2. "Love in Vain"   4:19
3. "Country Honk"   3:09
4. "Live with Me"   3:33
5. "Let It Bleed"   5:26
Side two
No. Title Length
1. "Midnight Rambler"   6:52
2. "You Got the Silver"   2:51
3. "Monkey Man"   4:12
4. "You Can't Always Get What You Want"   7:28

†Early US editions of the album credit the song to Woody Payne, a pseudonym used by a music publisher of the songs of Robert Johnson.

Other songs[edit]

Title Length Notes
"Honky Tonk Women" single


The Rolling Stones
Additional personnel

Sales chart performance[edit]

Year Chart Position
1969 UK Albums Chart 1[25]
1969 Billboard Pop Albums 3[26]
Preceded by
Abbey Road by The Beatles
UK Albums Chart number-one album
20 – 27 December 1969
Succeeded by
Abbey Road by The Beatles
Year Single Chart Position
1973 "You Can't Always Get What You Want" The Billboard Hot 100 42[27]


Country Provider Certification
(sales thresholds)
United States RIAA 2× Platinum
United Kingdom BPI Platinum


  1. ^ a b Heckman, Don (28 December 1969). "Pop: No, The Rolling Stones are Not Fascists; Mick's Not Fascist". The New York Times. p. D24. Retrieved 21 June 2013.  (subscription required)
  2. ^ "Let it Bleed ... (is) among the greatest rock albums", from The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll edited by Anthony ed DeCurtis, James Henke, and Holly George-Warren, page 245
  3. ^ a b c "Let It Bleed". AllMusic. Retrieved 31 October 2009. 
  4. ^ Egan, Sean (2005). Rolling Stones and the making of Let It Bleed. Unanimous Ltd. pp. 206–. ISBN 1 90331 877 7. 
  5. ^ Decca[disambiguation needed]. "Inner sleeve credits". Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  6. ^ Robert Brownjohn from the Design Museum website
  7. ^ Delia Smith from loog2stoned.com
  8. ^ Back cover image from the Design Museum website
  9. ^ Wyman, Bill. 2002. Rolling With the Stones
  10. ^ "Classic Album Covers: Issue Date – 7 January 2010". Royal Mail. Retrieved 8 January 2010. 
  11. ^ Michaels, Sean (8 January 2010). "Coldplay album gets stamp of approval from Royal Mail". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 8 January 2010. 
  12. ^ "Let It Bleed CD". Muze Inc. Retrieved 21 June 2008. 
  13. ^ a b "The Rolling Stones Let It Bleed". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  14. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. pp. 950, 952. ISBN 1-57859-061-2. 
  15. ^ a b "Review: Let It Bleed". NME (London): 46. 8 July 1995. 
  16. ^ a b Edwards, Gavin (2 September 2004). "Review: Let It Bleed". Rolling Stone (New York): 147. 
  17. ^ "The Rolling Stones: Album Guide". rollingstone.com. Archived version retrieved 15 November 2014.
  18. ^ "Album Reviews: The Rolling Stones – Let it Bleed". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 31 October 2009. 
  19. ^ Walsh, Christopher (24 August 2002). "Super audio CDs: The Rolling Stones Remastered". Billboard. p. 27. 
  20. ^ Stephen Davis (2001). Old gods almost dead: the 40-year odyssey of the Rolling Stones. Random House, Inc. 
  21. ^ Steven Van Zandt. "The Immortals – The Greatest Artists of All Time: 4) The Rolling Stones". The RollingStone. Retrieved 31 October 2009. 
  22. ^ "Let It Bleed". Rolling Stone. January 2003. Retrieved 21 August 2011. 
  23. ^ MacNeil, Jason (23 August 2004). "The Rolling Stones: Beggars Banquet / Let it Bleed". PopMatters. Retrieved 31 October 2009. 
  24. ^ The choir asked to have its name removed from the album's credits.[citation needed]
  25. ^ Record Retailer
  26. ^ "The Rolling Stones Complete Hit Albums List (1964–2008)". BeatZenith. Retrieved 24 July 2009. 
  27. ^ "The Rolling Stones Complete Hit Singles List (1963–2006)". BeatZenith. Retrieved 24 July 2009. 

External links[edit]