The Rolling Stones reignite the 1973 album Goats Head Soup and allow fans to relive the vitality.
History has proven it unwise to jump to conclusions when it comes to albums from The Rolling Stones. At first Sticky Fingers (1971) was something that was fuelled and created by a doper hipness in which the Stones rattled drugs as if they were maracas. Drugs wound up serving a figurative purpose as well as a literal purpose and the album became more and more ambitious after every repetitive listen. Again, at first Exile on Main St. (1972) seemed a terrible, horrific disappointment, with its mirky, mindless mixes and concentration on the trivial. But over time it’s emerged as being a monumental moment in music and a display of poetic vulgarity, the themes of all their albums have grown on me over time but their music had won me over from the get-go.
Goats Head Soup is the complete antithesis of Exile, it’s an incredibly romantic work and even though the album itself was first released in 1973, the deluxe version still has small gems of its own (single ‘Scarlet’ features none other than THE Jimmy Page) and by no means falls short of what they are used to producing. The Stones are not afraid to contradict themselves – it’s a wise move. Instead of piling raunchy singles on top of one another, they’ve decided to make it more approachable by emphasising the ballads which set it apart from every Rolling Stones LP in history.
The three main tracks ‘Angie’, (written about David Bowie’s ex-wife Angie who walked in on Bowie and Jagger in bed together multiple times – a story that Jagger denies) ‘Coming Down Again’ and ‘Winter’ are suffused with melancholy. But out of five of the rocker bluesy songs only one, ‘Star Star’, rains true as being typical Stones sass. It could be the Starfucker that’s in brackets that brings the sass but I like to think the sass comes purely from Keith Richard’s pure raw bluesy head-bopping guitar and the lyrics. Specifically ‘Your trick with fruit was kinda cute, I bet you keep your pussy clean’ that’s shouted and moaned by Jagger. Definitely not one for a family outing, big rip to me, dad was horrified. I’ll never recover. Apart from the change in tone and theme, the title isn’t a million miles away from past titles but I can’t help but feel that Goats Head Soup has a more witchy, bone doctor-esque feel to it, which allows the album to coalesce as one whole thematic piece of work.
This album presents the Stones in an unusual way, they weren’t supposed to be such Debbie Downers on downers which surely turned people off at the time of the original release. And Soup definitely has its missteps: The muddled ‘Can You Hear the Music’ struggles to find out what it wants to be and for a group that usually drools over hooks and groupies, respectively rockers ‘Silver Train’ and aforementioned ‘Star Star’ are stark, anemic and feel particularly licentious.
As I’ve said before in another Stones review, they can do anything they want as a band and I’ll be guaranteed to lap it up. Despite the band reaching 80 years old, they’re still pumping out albums, singles and deluxe albums that reignite the flame of old-fashioned Stones music – something I admire and find astonishing. Recently in an interview, Keith Richards said he doesn’t believe the Stones will retire or stop anytime soon, which is something I was mad psyched to hear. As long as they continue creating records and delivering the tasty sweet guitar goods, I won’t complain.
Goats Head Soup (2020) is available to listen to now via Universal Records. Watch the music video for ‘Scarlet’ below.