Their 11th UK studio album, recorded in Jamaica, Los Angeles and London as their last collaboration with producer Jimmy Miller, Goats Head Soup came in the wake of the Stones' landmark 1972 double album Exile On Main St. The new set was introduced by the single that became one of their most exalted ballads, the endlessly elegant “Angie”, completed by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards during a songwriting sojourn in Switzerland.
The timeless love song, showcasing Jagger's yearning lead vocal and Nicky Hopkins' beautiful piano motif, topped the charts in the US, where it was certified platinum, and went to No. 1 across Europe, Australia and beyond. “We decided to do something different, and it worked,” Richards told Rolling Stone of “Angie”. “Maybe a lot of people bought it that would never buy a Stones LP.” Interestingly in a recent interview with The New York Times, Bob Dylan chose “Angie” as one of three Rolling Stones songs he wished he had written.
Goats Head Soup, with its famous David Bailey sleeve, featured the Stones' vintage 1969-1974 line-up of Jagger, Richards, Mick Taylor, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts, with the addition of some essential collaborators. On an album on which their trademark rocking sound was often augmented by more low-key, reflective material, there were no fewer than four featured piano players: Hopkins, Billy Preston, Ian 'Stu' Stewart and Jagger himself.
“Angie” was the only single to be released from the LP in the UK, where it spent two weeks at No. 5 in September. In the US, the exhilaratingly funky, horn-filled “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)”, featuring Mick Taylor's wah-wah lead guitar, followed it into the top 20 in February 1974.
The many other highlights of the album included the majestically brooding opener “Dancing With Mr. D”, the lithely strutting “100 Years Ago” and “Star Star” and the graceful “Winter”. Richards' rueful lead vocal on “Coming Down Again” featured another Stones stalwart, saxophonist Bobby Keys. “Silver Train”, the b-side of “Angie”, would be revived after a gap of some 40 years, during the Stones' 14 On Fire tour of 2014, when Mick Taylor reprised his original guitar part in shows in Tokyo and Brisbane.
When the album was first released, reviewers lined up to sing its praises. “This is music which could only come from good musicians who know each other really well,” ruled the late and esteemed writer-broadcaster Charlie Gillett in Let It Rock. “The Stones succeed because they rarely forget their purpose — the creation of rock & roll drama,” said Bud Scoppa in Rolling Stone. “It’s deepening and unfolding over the coming months will no doubt rate as one of the year's richest musical experiences.”
FORMAT INFORMATION2xDeluxe LP Info: The 2LP is 2x180g Black LP featuring a gatefold sleeve with the 2020 mix plus three previously unreleased tracks, Scarlet, All The Rage & Criss Cross. Mastered at half speed by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios, London.