Beggars Banquet - Decca 1968
There is little doubt that producer Jimmy Miller had a great share in creating the sound that would become the group's hallmark for years to come. After a little groping with the album "Their Satanic Majesty's Request", which certainly also had its moments, there was need to find a more basic sound that was more a natural extension of the group's musical roots. You clearly feel on several numbers the Jimmy Miller imprint, and some places even similarities with another group Miller produced these years, namely Traffic.
Roughly speaking, the album's tracks can be divided into two groups; the acoustic and very blues inspirerd, and the more modern rocking, with biting and satirical lyrics, obviously inspired by Bob Dylan.
The acoustic numbers could as easily have fitted into previous albums, like "Between the Buttons" and it is not really on those we discover the "new" Stones. However, the songs are absolutely very good, especially the touching "No Expectations", with nice slide guitar by Brian Jones.
However, it is the "electric" tracks makes the album a classic. The opening song "Sympathy for the Devil" is more or less the epitome of the new sound. Great rhythm section with congas and maracas, which is followed by Nicki Hopkins' piano, after which Jagger sings his "tribute" to evil. Great musical structure on this number.
"Stray Cat" is closely related, perhaps more rooted in the blues, again with congas. And again, with biting lyrics, and a song that would be a live favorite.
"Jigsaw Puzzle" is another of the album's big numbers. The lyrics are strongly related to Dylan's "Desolation Row" - as with "Sympathy" there is a great build-up / structure - interesting with the flute-like sound, reportedly played by Dave Mason on a shehnai, an Indian wind instrument.
"Salt of the Earth", is at least as strong, with a surprising Richards lead vocals on the first verse. Again, Jagger / Richard from their lyrically most interesting side.
"Street Fighting Man" was the hit single, which skilfully catches the youth rebellions that raged across many big cities of the western world. Great guitar riff.
"Parachute Woman" is a number that is somewhat in between the two main categories. Strong roots in blues, but more electric than the other blues numbers. Could easily be called a precursor to "Midnight Rambler" from the subsequent album "Let it Bleed", which Miller also would produce.