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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.


 [hide*1 Background


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 forAllmusic, said that it "extends the rock and blues feel of Beggars Banquet into slightly harder-rocking, more demonically sexual territory."[3]


You Can't Always Get What You WantMENU   0:00 A sample of The Rolling Stones's "You Can't Always Get What You Want" fromLet It Bleed----
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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 [3]
Entertainment Weekly A[12]
NME 9/10[13]
Rolling Stone [14]

Released in December, Let It Bleed reached No. 1 in the UK (temporarily knocking The BeatlesAbbey Road out of the top slot) and No. 3 on theBillboard 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."[15]

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 recordreel 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-SACDversion.[16]

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."[17] 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).[18]

In a retrospective review, NME magazine said that the album "tugs and teases" in various musical directions and called it "a classic".[13] 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".[19] 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."[14] 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."[20]

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 where noted.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Gimme Shelter(featuring Merry Clayton) 4:31
2. "Love in Vain(Robert Johnson†) 4:19
3. "Country Honk"   3:09
4. "Live with Me"   3:33
5. "Let It Bleed"   5:26
Side two
No. Title Length
6. "Midnight Rambler"   6:52
7. "You Got the Silver"   2:51
8. "Monkey Man"   4:12
9. "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 the Stones to capture royalties.


The Rolling Stones
Additional personnel

Sales chart performance[edit][]

Year Chart Position
1969 UK Albums Chart 1[22]
1969 Billboard Pop Albums 3[23]
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[24]


Country Provider Certification

(sales thresholds)

United States RIAA 2× Platinum
United Kingdom BPI Platinum