Beggar's Banquet
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Beggar's Banquet

Beggars Banquet
Studio album by
Released6 December 1968
Recorded17 March - 25 July 1968
StudioOlympic Sound Studios, London;[1]Sunset Sound, Los Angeles
ProducerJimmy Miller
The Rolling Stones chronology
Their Satanic Majesties Request
Beggars Banquet
Let It Bleed
Alternate cover
The originally planned "toilet" cover used on subsequent CD reissues
The originally planned "toilet" cover used on subsequent CD reissues
Singles from Beggars Banquet
  1. "Street Fighting Man"/"No Expectations"
    Released: 31 August 1968 (US)

Beggars Banquet is the seventh British and ninth American studio album by English rock band The Rolling Stones. It was released in December 1968 by Decca Records in the United Kingdom and London Records in the United States. The album was a return to roots rock for the band following the psychedelic pop of their 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request.[2] It was the last Rolling Stones album to be released during Brian Jones' lifetime, but he also played on two songs on their next album Let It Bleed, which was released after his death.

Recording and production

Glyn Johns, the album's recording engineer and longtime collaborator of the band, said that Beggars Banquet signaled "the Rolling Stones' coming of age ... I think that the material was far better than anything they'd ever done before. The whole mood of the record was far stronger to me musically."[5] Producer Jimmy Miller described guitarist Keith Richards as "a real workhorse" while recording the album, mostly due to the infrequent presence of Brian Jones. When he did show up at the sessions, Jones behaved erratically due to his drug use and emotional problems.[5] Miller said that Jones would "show up occasionally when he was in the mood to play, and he could never really be relied on:

When he would show up at a session--let's say he had just bought a sitar that day, he'd feel like playing it, so he'd look in his calendar to see if the Stones were in. Now he may have missed the previous four sessions. We'd be doing let's say, a blues thing. He'd walk in with a sitar, which was totally irrelevant to what we were doing, and want to play it. I used to try to accommodate him. I would isolate him, put him in a booth and not record him onto any track that we really needed. And the others, particularly Mick and Keith, would often say to me, 'Just tell him to piss off and get the hell out of here'.[5]

Jones played sitar[6] and tanpura on "Street Fighting Man",[7]slide guitar on "No Expectations" and "Jigsaw Puzzle" [8][9][10][11]acoustic guitar and harmonica on "Parachute Woman" [8][12][13], harmonica on "Dear Doctor" and "Prodigal Son",[14] and Mellotron on "Jigsaw Puzzle" and "Stray Cat Blues".[15]. The basic track of "Street Fighting Man" was recorded on an early Philips cassette deck at London's Olympic Sound Studios, where Richards played a Gibson Hummingbird acoustic guitar, and Charlie Watts played on an antique, portable practice drum kit.[16] Richards and Mick Jagger were mistakenly credited as writers on "Prodigal Son", a cover of Robert Wilkins's Biblical blues song.[5]

Title and packaging

According to Keith Richards, the album's title was thought up by British art dealer Christopher Gibbs.[17] On 7 June 1968, a photoshoot for the album's gatefold, with photographer Michael Joseph, was held at Sarum Chase, a mansion in Hampstead, London.[18] Previously unseen images from the shoot were exhibited at the Blink Gallery in London in November and December 2008.[19] The album's original cover art, depicting a bathroom wall covered with graffiti, was rejected by the band's record company, and their unsuccessful dispute delayed the album's release for months.[5] The "toilet" cover was later featured on most Compact Disc reissues.[20][5]

Release and promotion

Beggars Banquet was first released in the United Kingdom by Decca Records on 6 December 1968, and in the United States by London Records the following day.[21] Like the band's previous album, it reached number three on the British albums chart, but remained on the chart for less weeks.[22] The album peaked at number five on the American chart.[23]

On 11-12 December 1968 the band filmed a television extravaganza titled The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus featuring John Lennon, Eric Clapton, The Who, Jethro Tull and Marianne Faithfull among the musical guests.[24][25] One of the original aims of the project was to promote Beggars Banquet, but the film was shelved by the Rolling Stones until 1996, when their former manager, Allen Klein, gave it an official release.[26]

Contemporary reception

Beggars Banquet received a highly favourable response from music critics,[27][28] who considered it a return to form for the Stones.[29][30] Author Stephen Davis writes of its impact: "[The album was] a sharp reflection of the convulsive psychic currents coursing through the Western world. Nothing else captured the youthful spirit of Europe in 1968 like Beggar's Banquet."[28]

According to music journalist Anthony DeCurtis, the "political correctness" of "Street Fighting Man", particularly the lyrics "What can a poor boy do/'Cept sing in a rock and roll band", sparked intense debate in the underground media.[5] In the description of author and critic Ian MacDonald, French director Jean-Luc Godard's filming of the sessions for "Sympathy for the Devil" contributed to the band's image as "Left Bank heroes of the European Maoist underground", with the song's "Luciferian iconoclasm" interpreted as a political message.[31]

Time magazine described the Stones as "England's most subversive roisterers since Fagin's gang in Oliver Twist" and added: "In keeping with a widespread mood in the pop world, Beggars Banquet turns back to the raw vitality of Negro R&B and the authentic simplicity of country music."[32]Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone considered that the band's regeneration marked the return of rock'n'roll, while the Chicago Sun-Times declared: "The Stones have unleashed their rawest, rudest, most arrogant, most savage record yet. And it's beautiful."[33]

Less impressed, the writer of Melody Makers initial review dismissed Beggars Banquet as "mediocre" and said that, since "The Stones are Mick Jagger", it was only the singer's "remarkable recording presence that makes this LP".[34]Geoffrey Cannon of The Guardian found that the album "demonstrates [the group's] primal power at its greatest strength" and wrote admiringly of Jagger's ability to fully engage the listener on "Sympathy for the Devil", saying: "We feel horror because, at full volume, he makes us ride his carrier wave with him, experience his sensations, and awaken us to ours."[35] In his ballot for Jazz & Pop magazine's annual critics poll, Robert Christgau ranked it as the third best album of the year, and "Salt of the Earth" the best pop song of the year.[36]


In a retrospective review for Wondering Sound, Ben Fong-Torres called Beggars Banquet "an album flush with masterful and growling instant classics", and said that it "responds more to the chaos of '68 and to themselves than to any fellow artists ... the mood is one of dissolution and resignation, in the guise of a voice of an ambivalent authority."[45]Colin Larkin, in his Encyclopedia of Popular Music (2006), viewed the album as "a return to strength" which included "the socio-political 'Street Fighting Man' and the brilliantly macabre 'Sympathy for the Devil', in which Jagger's seductive vocal was backed by hypnotic Afro-rhythms and dervish yelps".[38] Writing for MusicHound in 1999, Greg Kot opined that the same two songs were the "weakest cuts", adding: "Otherwise, the disc is a tour de force of acoustic-tinged savagery and slumming sexuality, particularly the gleefully flippant 'Stray Cat Blues.'"[42] Larry Katz from the Boston Herald called Beggars Banquet "both a return to basics and leap forward".[37]

In his 1997 review for Rolling Stone, DeCurtis said the album was "filled with distinctive and original touches", and remarked on its legacy: "For the album, the Stones had gone to great lengths to toughen their sound and banish the haze of psychedelia, and in doing so, they launched a five-year period in which they would produce their very greatest records."[5] Author Martin C. Strong similarly considers Beggars Banquet to be the first album in the band's "staggering burst of creativity" over 1968-72 that ultimately comprised four of the best rock albums of all time.[40] Writing in 2007, Daryl Easlea of BBC Music said that although in places it fails to maintain the quality of its opening song, Beggars Banquet was the album where the Rolling Stones gained their enduring status as "the Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band in the World".[46]

In 2003, the album was ranked at number 58 on Rolling Stones list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[47] In the same year, the TV network VH1 named Beggars Banquet the 67th greatest album of all time. The album is also featured in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[48]


In August 2002, ABKCO Records reissued Beggars Banquet as a newly remastered LP and SACD/CD hybrid disk.[49] This release corrected an important flaw in the original album by restoring each song to its proper, slightly faster speed. Due to an error in the mastering, Beggars Banquet was heard for over thirty years at a slower speed than it was recorded. This had the effect of altering not only the tempo of each song, but the song's key as well. These differences were subtle but important, and the remastered version is about 30 seconds shorter than the original release.

Also in 2002 the Russian label CD-Maximum unofficially released the limited edition Beggars Banquet + 7 Bonus,[50] which was also bootleged on a German counterfeit-DECCA label as Beggars Banquet (the Mono Beggars).[51]

It was released once again in 2010 by Universal Music Enterprises in a Japanese only SHM-SACD version;[52] and on 24 November 2010 ABKCO Records released a SHM-CD version.[53]

On 28 May 2013 ABKCO Records reissued the LP on vinyl.[54]

In 2018, the album was reissued for it's 50th anniversary.

Track listing

All songs written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, except "Prodigal Son" by Robert Wilkins.

Side one
1."Sympathy for the Devil"6:18
2."No Expectations"3:56
3."Dear Doctor"3:28
4."Parachute Woman"2:20
5."Jigsaw Puzzle"6:06
Total length:22:08
Side two
6."Street Fighting Man"3:16
7."Prodigal Son"2:51
8."Stray Cat Blues"4:38
9."Factory Girl"2:09
10."Salt of the Earth"4:48
Total length:17:42



The Rolling Stones

Additional personnel


Chart (1968-69) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[61] 3
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[62] 3
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[63] 8
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[64] 2
UK Albums (OCC)[65] 3
US Billboard 200[66] 5
Chart (2007) Peak
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[67] 43
Chart (2007) Peak
French Albums (SNEP)[68] 197


Year Single Chart Position
1968 "Street Fighting Man" Billboard Hot 100[66] 48
Austrian Singles[69] 7
Dutch Singles[70] 5
German Singles[71] 8
Swiss Singles[72] 4
1971 UK Singles (OCC)[65] 62


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[73] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[74] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[75] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


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