Mostly recorded without Brian Jones -- who died several months before its release (although he does play on two tracks) and was replaced by Mick Taylor (who also plays on just two songs) -- this extends the rock and blues feel of Beggars Banquet into slightly harder-rocking, more demonically sexual territory. The Stones were never as consistent on an album as their main rivals, the Beatles, and Let It Bleed suffers from some rather perfunctory tracks, like "Monkey Man" and a countrified remake of the classic "Honky Tonk Woman" (here titled "Country Honk"). Yet, some of the songs are among their very best, especially "Gimme Shelter," with its shimmering guitar lines and apocalyptic lyrics; the harmonica-driven "Midnight Rambler"; the druggy party ambience of the title track; and the stunning "You Can't Always Get What You Want," which was the Stones' "Hey Jude" of sorts, with its epic structure, horns, philosophical lyrics, and swelling choral vocals. "You Got the Silver" (Keith Richards' first lead vocal) and Robert Johnson's "Love in Vain," by contrast, were as close to the roots of acoustic down-home blues as the Stones ever got.
[The 50th Anniversary Edition of Let It Bleed contains the stereo and mono mixes of the album presented as both SACDs and 180-gram LPs. Additionally, the box contains a 7" single of "Honky Tonk Women"/"You Can't Always Get What You Want," three lithographs, and a hardcover book with an essay from David Fricke. There may not be much in the way of bonus musical material, but the packaging is handsome, and the mastering is strong, which means it's a nice luxury presentation of this down-and-dirty album.]