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Under the Covers: The Rolling Stones

  • 4 min read

The Rolling Stones first released ‘Goats Head Soup’ back on 31 August 1973 and 47 years later, the band’s 11th English studio album is being re-released. Following the deluxe edition reissue of the band’s album ‘Exile on Main Street’ back in 2010, ‘Goats Head Soup’ has received the same treatment and is being released across a number of formats with remastered versions of the original tracks, alongside alternate mixes, demos, instrumentals and three songs which have never been released before now. ‘Goats Head Soup’ catches the band at a concrete stage of their career and is filled with hints of soul, rock and roll, funk and the blues. The three new songs, ‘Scarlet’, ‘Criss Cross’ and ‘All the Rage’ which are included with the re-release, are equally as infectious as everything that is contained on the original album and they are a welcome addition to what is already a solid body of work. 

With the release of Goats Head Soup, we take a look at some classic releases by The Rolling Stones and we dig a little deeper to discover the stories behind the iconic album artwork.

Goats Head Soup

The album was recorded in Jamaica, the US and the UK between November 1972 and May 1973 before being released in August the same year. The album title appears to be a reference to the Jamaican dish, Mannish Water, and is a nod to the band's time spent in the country while recording the album. Featuring ‘Angie’, ‘Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)’ and ‘Dancing With Mr. D’, the album is emotionally charged and went to number one in the UK and US. But it wasn’t all plain sailing… The iconic album cover that we are all familiar with is the third design that was chosen after the first two ideas were scrapped. The first design featured a stuffed goat’s head sitting in a bowl of soup but it was deemed unsuitable by the label. However, this image was used as a poster insert for the album and it is now being used on official merchandise being sold by the band for the re-release. The second cover was set to be created by the design group Hipgnosis, who had previously created artwork for Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. The group's concept for the cover consisted of the band being presented as centaurs; half man, half horse (or half goat!). This design never did materialize and in the end the final cover, featuring a veiled Jagger, was created by photographer David Bailey and designed by Ray Lawrence. It’s the first time that Jagger appeared on the front cover on his own and in the end, the design had no reference to the album title. 



Some Girls

The Rolling Stones released ‘Some Girls’ on 9 June 1978 and the album went to number one in the US billboard charts and number two in the UK. The album went on to be the band's biggest selling album in the US selling a total of 6 million copies by 2000. The album fuses rock and roll with catchy disco grooves and country music. The album artwork was designed by Peter Corriston, who also went on to design sleeves for the band’s albums ‘Tattoo You’ and ‘Undercover’.  The cover features a series of cut outs of famous female celebrities which could then be replaced by the faces of members of the Stones on the opposite side of the inner sleeve, as they were inserted into an old ad for Valmor Products. The cover caused a stir as some of the female celebrities weren’t happy with images similar to theirs being used. Various variations of the artwork now exist including block colours replacing the faces of the celebrities and the album remains a Stones classic. 

 


Exile on Main Street

 
Released in May 1972, ‘Exile on Main Street’ features some exceptional, blues heavy, honky tonk influenced rock and roll heard clearly on tracks such as ‘Shake Your Hips’ and ‘Rip This Joint’. The album artwork is a photograph taken by Robert Frank of a wall in a tattoo parlour somewhere along Route 66 in 1950. For the front cover, the pictures on the wall were of circus performers and on the back cover, a similar layout of photographs of the band were assorted. It’s possible to draw comparisons between the circus performers and the Stones...both could certainly be considered rebellious performing outcasts who chose a lifestyle that wouldn’t necessarily have been for everyone! 

 


Let It Bleed

Released in 1969, ‘Let It Bleed’ begins with the explosive opening track ‘Gimme Shelter’ and develops into a sublime selection of impeccably produced honky tonk, slide guitar blues and rock and roll tracks. The album is brought to a close by the ultimate finale of ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’. The album cover was designed by Robert Brownjohn and was created after taking influence from the album’s working title of ‘Automatic Changer’. Back in 2010, ‘Let It Bleed’ was included in a list of ten iconic British albums that the Royal Mail printed commemorative stamps for.

 


Beggars Banquet

Released in 1968, ‘Beggars Banquet’ features two of the Rolling Stones’ biggest hits, ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ and ‘Street Fighting Man’. The album is a fine exploration of the band’s love for traditional blues and country and western music. It’s loaded with gritty rock and roll and captures the Stones at an incredibly prolific stage of their career.  The release of the album was delayed due to the record label at the time rejecting the original artwork which featured a slightly dilapidated toilet that had been graffitied by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. A rather beige alternative which resembled a wedding invitation was chosen instead. The original album artwork has since been used for CD and vinyl reproductions.

 

 

Sticky Fingers

There’s iconic album covers...and then there’s ‘Sticky Fingers’. Released in 1971, the concept for the cover was created by Andy Warhol and originally featured an actual zipper sewn into the sleeve. It is also the first album to have included the famous Stones lips and tongue logo, designed and created by John Pasche in 1970. The album encapsulates everything that the band seems to have stood for and includes some of the band’s most varied work ranging from the hard hitting ‘Brown Sugar’ to the softer, more delicate compositions of ‘I Got The Blues’ and ‘Wild Horses’.