The Rolling Stones Release 'Goats Head Soup'
Except for the spavined "Dancing With Mr. D," and the oxymoronic "Can You Hear the Music," these are good songs.
But the execution is slovenly. I don't mean sloppy, which can be exciting--I mean arrogant and enervated all at once. Mick's phrasing is always indolent, but usually it's calculated down to the last minibeat as well; here the words sometimes catch him yawning. Without trying to be "tight" the band usually grooves into a reckless, sweaty coherence; here they hope the licks will stand on their own. Only on "Starfucker," the most outrageous Chuck Berry throwaway of the band's career, does this record really take off.
Goats Head Soup is the 11th studio album by The Rolling Stones released in 1973. It was recorded as the follow-up to 1972's critically acclaimed Exile on Main St. Goats Head Soup was a more polished production than the raw and ragged Exile. It reflected the resurgence of soul-pop and the rise of funk, while maintaining the Stones' distinctive rock sound. It spawned the hit single "Angie", possibly its best-known track, and topped the charts in both the US and the UK.
Recording began as early as 1970. Two tracks, "Silver Train" and "Hide Your Love", resulted from these early sessions and re-appeared in November 1972 when the band relocated to Kingston, Jamaica's Dynamic Sound Studios. Guitarist Keith Richards said in 2002, "Jamaica was one of the few places that would let us all in! By that time about the only country that I was allowed to exist in was Switzerland, which was damn boring for me, at least for the first year, because I didn't like to ski... Nine countries kicked me out, thank you very much, so it was a matter of how to keep this thing together..."
Of the recording process, Marshall Chess, the president of Rolling Stones Records at the time, said in 2002, "We used to book studios for a month, 24 hours a day, so that the band could keep the same set-up and develop their songs in their free-form way, starting with a few lyrics and rhythms, jamming and rehearsing while we fixed the sound. It amazed me, as an old-time record guy, that the Stones might not have played together for six or eight months, but within an hour of jamming, the synergy that is their strength would come into play and they would lock it together as one..."
Jagger said of their approach to recording at the time, "Songwriting and playing is a mood. Like the last album we did (Exile on Main St.) was basically recorded in short concentrated periods. Two weeks here, two weeks there - then another two weeks. And, similarly, all the writing was concentrated so that you get the feel of one particular period of time. Three months later it's all very different and we won't be writing the same kind of material as Goats Head Soup."
On the sessions and influence of the island, Richards said, "The album itself didn't take that long, but we recorded an awful lot of tracks. There were not only Jamaicans involved, but also percussion players who came from places like Guyana, a travelling pool of guys who worked in the studios. It was interesting to be playing in this totally different atmosphere. Mikey Chung, the engineer at Dynamic, for example, was a Chinese man — you realise how much Jamaica is a multi-ethnic environment."
The first track recorded at Dynamic was "Winter", which lead guitarist Mick Taylor said started with "just Mick (Jagger) strumming on a guitar in the studio, and everything falling together from there."
The album's lead single, "Angie", was an unpopular choice as lead single with Atlantic Records which, according to Chess, "wanted another 'Brown Sugar' rather than a ballad."
Contrary to popular belief, the song was not about David Bowie's first wife Angela; Richards' daughter Dandelion Angela had just been born, and the name was Richards' main contribution to the lyrics.
Despite its laid-back sound, many of Goats Head Soup's songs have a darker quality to them, such as the opener "Dancing With Mr. D" (D as in Death). An alternate version can be heard on bootlegs that features a ripping Mick Taylor guitar solo that was not featured on the album version.
Also featured is the Top 20 US hit "Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)", which criticizes the New York police for the accidental shooting of a 10-year-old.
This was the last Rolling Stones album produced by Jimmy Miller, who'd worked with the band since 1968's Beggars Banquet sessions. Miller developed a debilitating drug habit from his years spent with the band.
Aside from the official band members, other musicians appearing on Goats Head Soup include keyboard players Billy Preston, Nicky Hopkins and Ian Stewart.
Recording was completed in January 1973 in Los Angeles and May 1973 at London's Olympic Sound Studios.