The Rolling Stones


Song Review by

This mournful ballad is one of the Rolling Stones' best-known and most-loved songs. Spending 13 weeks on the pop chart and hitting the number one spot in America, "Angie" was a worldwide smash, re-establishing the Stones at the top of the charts after their previous record -- the artistic high-watermark Exile on Main St. -- suffered a relatively poor commercial performance. Mick Jagger achingly sings about a doomed love: "They can't say we never tried/With no loving in our souls and no money in our coats/You can't say we're satisfied," is one of the song's most memorable lines. Jagger's soulful vocal performance rises over "whoop"s and shouts and his old "ghost" guide vocal track, the track that vocalists lay down to steer the musicians through the arrangement in recording. The bleed-through of the scratch vocal into open microphones adds a raw quality to the recording that would normally be cleaned up during big-budget recordings. The inspiration for the lyrics have speculatively been attributed to varied sources: Keith Richards' longtime love, Anita Pallenberg; David Bowie's ex-wife, Angela Bowie; and even David Bowie himself, who Angela claimed to have once found in bed with Jagger. But Keith Richards has noted that soon before he wrote the basic chords and melody for the song, his new daughter, Angela, had been born and the name "Angie" just fit well into the music. Many girls born in 1973-1975 were probably also named after the ballad. The minor-key strum of Keith Richard's guitar starts the song with a folky flavor. The acoustic of Mick Taylor also joins in soon after Richard's harmonic notes. Other notable instrumentation includes the gentle country-soul piano work of Nicky Hopkins and the nonintrusive string arrangements of Nicky Harrison. Charlie Watts adds his distinctive stops and starts on the drums, into which slips the soulful bass of Bill Wyman. The overall muscled approach of the band offsets the potential preciousness of the piece. With many bands, the string section on top of a piano/acoustic guitar ballad coupled with such pining lyrics would add up to syrup -- and some fans indeed thought the Stones veered well into that '70s soft rock territory here. However, as inconsistent as their records started to become with Goats Head Soup, the Stones were nevertheless becoming more adept at writing and recording ballads. Some of their greatest came from this era; think of "Winter" and "Coming Down Again" from Goats Head Soup (1973) and "Fool to Cry" and "Memory Motel" from Black and Blue (1976). Tori Amos gave "Angie" her typically melodramatic, pseudo-intense approach on the 1992 EP Crucify. Neo-traditionalist country singer Sammy Kershaw recorded a sincere but somnambulant version of the song for the 1997 tribute to the Stones by contemporary country artists, Stone Country. Oddly for such a huge hit ballad, cover versions are few and far between.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Goats Head Soup 1973 Virgin 4:32
Made in the Shade 1975 Capitol / Hip-O 4:31
No Image 1979 Rounder 4:29
Rewind (1971-1984) 1984 Columbia / Rolling Stones Records 4:33
No Image 1990
Various Artists
CBS Records
Jump Back: The Best of the Rolling Stones (1971-1993) 1993 Virgin 4:32
No Image 1995 Totonka
Bridges to Babylon 1997 Virgin 0:00
No Image 1997 Midnight Beat 4:56
No Image 1999 Cool Daddy 4:53
Forty Licks 2002 ABKCO Records 4:31
Como Uma Onda International 2005
Original Soundtrack
Som Livre
LP Sleeve Box Set 2005 Toshiba EMI
No Image 2006
Various Artists
The Rolling Stones Box Set 2009 Promotone 4:32
The Singles: 1971-2006 2011 Polydor 4:34
GRRR! 2012 ABKCO Records 4:32
No Image
Various Artists
Atlantic 4:32
No Image