Today, Friday 4th September, The Rolling Stones kicked off the weekend by releasing a reissue of their 1973 album Goats Head Soup. The new “Deluxe” version of the album can be purchased in different formats on the band’s website, but this article refers to the three-disc version released on Spotify. Disc one is the original version of the album but newly mixed by Giles Martin while the second and third introduce us to ‘unheard tracks…demo versions…outtakes’ and live performances.
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Goats Head Soup 2020 is out now – link in bio! This classic album has been restored to its full glory with a new stereo album mix, sourced from the original session files. Featuring three previously unheard tracks – ‘Criss Cross’, ‘Scarlet’, ft. Jimmy Page and ‘All The Rage’ – plus demos, outtakes, live performances and more! The album is available across multiple formats, including expansive 4LP & 4CD boxsets, limited edition clear vinyl and even cassette tape. #therollingstones #goatsheadsoup2020 #experiencegoatsheadsoup #outnow
Goats Head Soup is the sound of a band in transition. It is nowhere near as rocky as its predecessors Exile on Main Street and Beggars Banquet. Mick Jagger said of it: ‘I feel really close to this album… The tracks are much more varied than the last one. I didn’t want it to be just a bunch of rock songs’.
Lead single Angie and the soulful song Winter take the form of ballads. Atlantic Records wasn’t very happy with the Stones for picking Angie as the lead single, apparently wanting something more rock and roll like Brown Sugar.
But in the end, it was a wise decision. It didn’t take long for Angie to reach number one in the U.S. Billboards and the song is still considered one of the band’s best. The decision to feature piano and that distinctive violin refrain over a strong electric guitar lick epitomises the Stones’ experimental nature and desire to fuse genres.
The album was recorded in Jamaica ‘because it was one of the ‘few places that would let [them] all in’ due to the band’s status as tax exiles. Jamaica excited Jagger particularly, who enjoyed the ‘multi-ethnic environment’. There were ‘not only Jamaicans’ involved in the making of the album but also ‘percussion players who came from places like Guyana’.
The ‘unheard’ tracks Scarlet, All The Rage and Criss Cross are found on disc two and unfortunately are not quite up to the mark. The genesis of Scarlet is more interesting than the song itself: it was recorded when the Stones walked in to Ronnie Wood’s studio at the end of a Zeppelin session and Jimmy Page decided to stay and jam.
Despite the talent on the track, it is undeserving of the two remixes it gets on the new 2020 reissue (one by The War on Drugs and the other by The Killers & Jacques Lu Cont). The recently released video for the track featured actor Paul Mescal and felt random and outdated.
It is also interesting to reassess songs like Star Star in the aftermath of the Me Too movement. The song, which caused controversy even at the time, is about a “Groupie” and contains extremely explicit lyrics. Though the track opens with a strong Chuck-Berry-Esque guitar lick, it leaves a sour taste in one’s mouth in light of recent scandals such as the Bowie and Lori Mattix affair.
Heartbreaker, however, is about police brutality in the USA and is obviously particularly poignant at the moment. The track’s build-up, brass section and rollicking rhythm make it one of the Stones’ best and most politically relevant songs to date.
The instrumental versions of Heartbreaker and Dancing With Mr D are definitely the highlights of the reissue. Each brings to light the Stones’ undeniable mastery of instrumentation and arrangement.