Rolling Stones’ ‘Let it Bleed’ 50th Anniversary Deluxe Arrives

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The Rolling Stones’ groundbreaking 1969 album, Let It Bleed, has been celebrated with a 50th Anniversary Limited Deluxe Edition. The 2-LP/ 2-Hybrid Super Audio CD set, entirely remastered in both stereo and mono by Grammy®-winning engineer Bob Ludwig, was released by ABKCO Records on November 1. The collection also comes with a reproduction of the 1969 7” mono single of “Honky Tonk Women”/“You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” in a picture sleeve. The album, originally issued on December 5, 1969, reached #1 in the U.K. and #3 in the U.S.

Also included in the anniversary release are three 12” x 12” hand-numbered replica-signed lithographs printed on embossed archival paper, and a full-color 23” x 23” poster with restored art from the original Decca Records package. An 80-page hardcover book that includes an essay by journalist David Fricke and never-before-seen photos by the band’s tour photographer Ethan Russell is part of the set. ABKCO is also releasing the remastered stereo version of Let It Bleed as a stand-alone CD, vinyl LP and digitally.

Watch the official unboxing video

From the September 11 announcement: The Rolling Stones, at this point already a critically and commercially dominant force, composed and recorded their eighth long-player (tenth for the U.S.) amidst both geopolitical and personal turmoil. In June 1969, during the peak of the Vietnam War and the era’s social upheaval, the group was in the process of recording eight Jagger/Richards-penned tunes and one cover (“Love In Vain” from the canon of bluesman Robert Johnson) when they made the difficult decision to part ways with founding member Brian Jones. who would be found dead in his swimming pool the following month. Jones had already been replaced by 20-year-old guitar prodigy Mick Taylor, formerly of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.

Let It Bleed stands as the only proper Rolling Stones full-length that contains contributions from both members; Jones played autoharp on “You Got the Silver” and congas on “Midnight Rambler,” while Taylor laid down slide guitar on “Country Honk” and guitar tracks, along with Richards, on “Live With Me.”

The second of four Rolling Stones albums made with producer Jimmy Miller (Traffic, Blind Faith), Let It Bleed perfectly captures the ominous spirit of the times with “Gimme Shelter,” the opening track. Keith Richards came up with the song’s hook while witnessing people scramble for shelter during a storm; it evolved to a much darker direction with background singer Merry Clayton’s cries of “rape” and “murder” on the choruses of the finished recording. The thematically similar “Midnight Rambler” was inspired by the Boston Strangler murders of 1962-1964; by coincidence the Manson Family killings were front page news while the album was being finished at Elektra Studios and Sunset Sound in Los Angeles, a short drive away from both major crime scenes. Gloom and doom notwithstanding, Richards sings lead vocals on “You Got the Silver” – a first for the guitarist. With the aid of the London Bach Choir and Jack Nitzsche’s vocal arrangements, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” completes the album in an epic, uplifting fashion.

“Honky Tonk Women” (b/w “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”) was originally released four months ahead of Let It Bleed. “Honky Tonk Women,” with its distinctive cowbell-centric intro, was a #1 hit in both the U.S. and U.K., and was reprised on the album in a countryfied manner as “Country Honk.”

Eleven-time Grammy®-winning mastering engineer Ludwig was tasked with remastering this edition of Let It Bleed and worked from Direct Stream Digital files taken from the original tapes at a 2.8 MHz sampling rate.

“When we did the first Let It Bleed remaster in 2002, our intention was to pay homage to the original work,” said Ludwig, who is no stranger to the Stones’ catalog, having mastered or remastered many of their classic albums over the past four decades. “When we did this new version, the purpose was to make it as great as it could possibly sound. If you listen on a good set of speakers or good headphones, you’ll hear subtle things in the background that are now much more clear that were somewhat hidden before.”

Watch the new lyric video for “Monkey Man”

Related: Our Album Rewind of Let it Bleed

Keith Richards and Mick Jagger review proof of Let It Bleed album art. Laurel Canyon House, November 1969. (Photo © Ethan Russell; used with permission)

Graphic designer Robert Brownjohn’s sketches for his original cover art depicting several random round items piled onto the spindle of an antique record player (including a cake with figurines representing the band members) is reproduced in Let It Bleed (50th Anniversary Limited Deluxe Edition). The sketches are offered on two 12” x 12” lithographs, hand numbered, replica-signed and printed on embossed archival paper. A third lithograph of the finalized art, sans titles, completes the set housed in a foil-stamped envelope. Brownjohn passed away less than a year after the release of the album; his estate granted ABKCO exclusive use to manufacture his images and signature. The package also comes with a reproduction of the full color 23” x 23” poster that came with the original 1969 Decca Records U.K. version of Let It Bleed.

Let it Bleed Track Listing
Side 1
1) Gimme Shelter
2) Love In Vain
3) Country Honk
4) Live with Me
5) Let It Bleed
Side 2
1) Midnight Rambler
2) You Got the Silver
3) Monkey Man
4) You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Related: Check out the great music collections in our 2019 box set gift guide

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  1. Andrew
    #1 Andrew 18 September, 2019, 08:00

    If Alan Klein still owns the rights. I’m not buying this. ABKCO can eat all of the reissues. I can’t believe that bastard got the rights to all the lps from the beginning of their career until they broke away. When it’s the 50th of Sticky Fingers I will buy those and on. Klein died of Alzheimers, couldn’t of happen to a nicer guy.

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