The Rolling Stones Return With Beggars Banquet

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"Sympathy for the Devil," is bound to be the most 'significant' of the songs on the album. It is a complex piece, about five minutes long. It was originally done in a very Dylanish style, but two nights later, in London, they cut a second version of the song, and made it a stone heavy. Keith plays bass, Bill plays maracas, some West Indian cat plays conga drums, and everyone in the studio at that time contributed yelps, "ooh-ooh's" and Mick did the grunts.

The first version of the song – then called "The Devil Is My Name" – contained the lyric "I shouted out, 'Who Killed Kennedy?' After all it was you and me." The next day Bobby was shot. The second version of the song, the one which will be on the album, recorded the next day, has this line instead: "I shouted out, 'Who Killed the Kennedys?' After all it was you and me."

The chorus is "Pleased to meet you/Won't you guess my name?/ What's puzzling you is the nature of my game." This is not a "protest" song as they have come to be called, but it makes most everything recently done in that bag look pretty pablumish. Mick opens the song with these lines: "Please allow me to introduce myself, I'm a man of wealth and taste."

The record will probably not be released until the end of August, unless things are speeded up a bit. It is the Stones' best record, without a doubt, and one that is immensely pleasing after Satanic.

People who are always trying to spot trends have been talking about the "rock and roll revival" in England, and forecasting a country and western period here. These things inevitably become faddish and worn-out, but after a dozen groups have recorded country albums in Nashville and another dozen have re-made "Blue Suede Shoes," what will remain is, among other pieces, this new album by the Rolling Stones which uses country and western music as it traditionally has been used in rock and roll: an album which is also an example of the basic musical esthetic values of rock and roll that have been present in all the great rock and roll records of the past, are present here and probably will be in the future.

Writing about another subject entirely, Kathleen Cleaver said something which probably describes this album – and the best of rock – excellently: "The perfect art which conceals art, that satisfying spontaneity which can be achieved only by taking intense thought."

This story is from the August 10th, 1968 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

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