The Rolling Stones: Goats Head Soup (Polydor)
Verdict: Spicy musical broth
Molly Tuttle: But I’d Rather Be With You (Compass)
Verdict: Classy quarantine covers
Various: AngelHeaded Hipster (BMG)
Verdict: Ambitious Bolan tribute
The Rolling Stones have coped as well as anyone with the upheavals of 2020.
Forced to cancel their U.S. tour and put sessions for a new album on hold, they took part in the One World: Together At Home telethon, launched unseen concert footage on YouTube, and released a lockdown-inspired single (April’s brooding Living In A Ghost Town).
They have also overseen this deluxe repackaging of their 1973 album Goats Head Soup with added out-takes and three unreleased songs.
The album was a pivotal one, providing a link between the edge and swagger of hits like Jumpin’ Jack Flash and the Stones’ later incarnation as a jet-setting touring machine.
It retained just enough menace to maintain the group’s outlaw image, too.
The Rolling Stones (pictured) have coped as well as anyone with the upheavals of 2020. Forced to cancel their U.S. tour and put sessions for a new album on hold
When Bob Dylan sang the praises of the Stones as ‘them British bad boys’ on this year’s I Contain Multitudes, he could easily have been thinking about the unrulier songs on Goats Head Soup.
The album is rooted in the powerful blues-rock the Stones turned to from 1968’s Beggars Banquet onwards, but also builds on that template.
There’s subtlety in the ballads Angie and Winter, a touch of R&B in the funky clavinet of guest musician Billy Preston, and scintillating slide guitar by Mick Taylor, who would leave the band the following year.
A sequel to 1972’s sprawling Exile On Main St. — which topped the UK charts when it was repackaged a decade ago — Goats Head Soup is more polished than its magnificently messy predecessor.
But, out today in formats including a single CD (£10), double CD (£15), double vinyl LP (£24) and CD box (£100), it’s still an integral part of the Stones story.
Unlike Exile, which opened with the raw Rocks Off, it gets off to an unusually low-key start in Dancing With Mr D, about a dalliance with death.
The band’s bad- boy credentials are soon re-established, though.
Silver Train finds Mick Jagger singing about how a lover, possibly a prostitute, ‘laughed and took my money’. Star Star is an expletive-strewn Chuck Berry pastiche.
On a darker note, Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) is eerily resonant today — the gritty tale of how New York City police shot a man dead in a case of mistaken identity.
It’s the slower songs that endure. Angie is one of the three Stones songs that Dylan says he wishes he had written (Ventilator Blues and Wild Horses are the other two), and the elegant piano ballad remains a live staple.
The country-ish Winter is exceptional, too, while Coming Down Again is ruefully sung by Keith Richards.
The bonus material yields unexpectedly rich pickings. Of the unreleased songs, All The Rage is a good-time rocker and Criss Cross a slower, bluesier piece.
But the real gem is Scarlet: with guest guitarist Jimmy Page adding the crunch of early Led Zep, it would have been right at home on the original LP.
The more expansive editions also feature a live show from 1973.
The Brussels gig contains four tracks from Goats Head Soup, but is dominated by classics such as Gimme Shelter and Street Fighting Man, offering a hits-heavy taster of the band’s future as the world’s longest-running rock ‘n’ roll circus.
Singer and guitarist Molly Tuttle also turns to the Stones on her excellent covers album But I’d Rather Be With You.
The Nashville-based Californian harks back to the band’s psychedelic phase and transforms She’s A Rainbow into a finger-picked folk number. It’s one of several highlights.
Tuttle made the album in lockdown, with her adopted hometown reeling not just from coronavirus, but a devastating tornado that struck in March.
Recording on borrowed equipment, and working remotely with LA-based producer Tony Berg, she revisited her favourite songs ‘to remind myself why I love music’.
It’s an eclectic selection.
Singer and guitarist Molly Tuttle (pictured) also turns to the Stones on her excellent covers album But I’d Rather Be With You
Tuttle, 27, is a virtuoso bluegrass musician, but her choices are far from predictable.
They include songs by the Grateful Dead, punk band Rancid and indie trio the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, whose exhilarating single Zero is re-made acoustically with verve.
There are even two songs less than a year old — FKA Twigs’ intimate Mirrored Heart and Harry Styles’ Sunflower, Vol. 6 — giving the record a contemporary seal.
‘This album is a timestamp,’ says Tuttle… and it feels that way.
Marc Bolan is celebrated as a brilliant rock star who left behind a substantial body of work before dying in a car crash a fortnight before his 30th birthday.
A new tribute album puts his attributes as a satin-jacketed glam-rocker to one side and concentrates on his songwriting.
It’s the brainchild of the late Hal Willner, former music producer on Saturday Night Live.
Willner, who died after contracting coronavirus in April, spent several years finessing AngelHeaded Hipster and the album is a testament to his arranging skill… and Bolan’s compositional genius.
At one hour and 41 minutes, it’s closer to a triple album than a double. If that’s too much of a good thing, the highlights make it worthwhile.
Cosmic Dancer is given a tender piano reading by Nick Cave and Father John Misty shines on Main Man.
There’s no shortage of stellar names either, with U2, Elton John and Marc Almond all present.
Some tracks fall short, but Bolan was a true one-off — and this is a heartfelt homage.
Annie’s girl shows she’s a chip off the old block
Annie Lennox’s daughter Lola has been quietly establishing a musical pedigree of her own.
And having worked on a TV soundtrack with Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory, and issued two low-key ballads, she’s raising the stakes on the upbeat Back At Wrong.
A pounding pop single in the style of Adele’s Rolling In The Deep, it confirms she’s a chip off the old block.
The week’s best duet unites Sting with U.S. jazz star Melody Gardot.
The duo share a guitarist in Dominic Miller, who wrote the single Little Something with the two of them in mind.
Annie Lennox’s daughter Lola (pictured) has been quietly establishing a musical pedigree of her own
Sting’s plaintive vocals hark back to his acoustic single Fragile, while the subtle bossa nova is a taster for Gardot’s fifth album, due in October.
Electronic dance pioneers Faithless are also returning with Synthesizer, the opening single from forthcoming album All Blessed.
A floor-filler sung by singer-songwriter Nathan Ball, it sums up the attitude of pop’s most dedicated electronic music makers: ‘However much I love you, baby, I love my synthesizer more.’
Tears For Fears offer a preview of next month’s reissue of 1989’s The Seeds Of Love album with a single, Rhythm Of Life.
The song failed to make the cut on the original LP, but was reworked by Roland Orzabal for soul singer Oleta Adams. Given that the Seeds album took four years to finish, it’s no surprise this ‘demo’ is supremely polished. A.T.