GOATS HEAD SOUP
 

Recorded:
October 17-31, 1970: Rolling Stones Mobile Unit, Mick Jagger's home Stargroves, Newbury & Olympic Sound Studios, London, England;
November 25-30, 1972: Dynamic Sound Studios, Kingston, Jamaica
December 6-13, 1972: Dynamic Sound Studios, Kingston, Jamaica
January 16-18, 1973: SIR Studios, Los Angeles, USA
May 23-June 20, 1973: Island Recording Studios, London, England

Mixed:
May 23-June 20, 1973: Island Recording Studios, London, England
Mid-August 1973: Soundpush Studios, Blaricum, Netherlands

Producer: Jimmy Miller
Chief engineer: Andy Johns
Mixer: Andy Johns
Released: August 1973
Original label: Rolling Stones Records (on WEA)



Contributing musicians: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Mick Taylor, Nicky Hopkins, Ian Stewart, Billy Preston, Bobby Keys, Jim Price, Jim Horn, Chuck Findley, Jimmy Miller, Rebop, Pascal, Nick Harrison (arranger).

Dancing with Mr. D
100 Years Ago
Coming Down Again
Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)
Angie
Silver Train
Hide Your Love
Winter
Can You Hear the Music
Star Star
 
 
 


COVER


The shoot was organised for 1 PM and Mick and Keith turned up about 5 PM and Keith was in a very bolshy mood. Storm Thorgerson and I had outlined the concept to the Stones and they were all enthusiastic - especially Mick. They were all to be centaurs and minotaurs prancing about in the photo in an Arcadian landscape, like the young bucks they were. Right up Mick's street.

- Aubrey Powell in Bill Wyman's Rolling With The Stones, 2002

 
 






 
 


CREATION



Goats Head Soup was made on the run. There's this body of work that goes from Let It Bleed to Exile... where it felt like we weren't being hassled. After Exile... we really were exiled. The next couple of albums were made the same way, and that makes it difficult to do your best work.
- Keith Richards, 2011


This album will be less freaky, more melodic than the last one. We've recorded a lot of fast numbers already, maybe too many.
- Mick Jagger, January 1973


The backing tracks were all done in Jamaica.
- Mick Taylor, 1973


For Goats Head Soup, 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... Jamaica - oh, the music island! We were hearing intersting sounds coming out of Jamaica, plus they had cheap studios. Dynamic Sound in Kingston was an amazing place: the drum kits and the amps were nailed to the floor. Jamaica's a wonderful place, kind of free and easy. I'd been there on and off in the 1960s, but only for a visit. After Goats Head Soup I've lived there whenever I can. I have family there - villages welcome me with open arms.
- Keith Richards, 2003


We would be driven to Byron Lee's studio through downtown Kingston. Two large, double gates guarded by the man with the shotgun would open and let us in and then close behind us. Studio A was a low building, little bigger than an out-house. Inside was an eight-track recorder and the room where we recorded. Someone describe it as just this side of claustrophobic, they were right.
- Bill Wyman, Rolling With The Stones (2002)


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.
- Keith Richards, 2003


After Exile, such a beautifully set up list of songs that all seemed to go together, it was difficult for us to get that tightness again. We hadn't been in the studio for a year. But we had some good ideas. Coming Down Again, Angie, Starfucker, Heartbreaker. I enjoyed making it. Our way of doing things changed while we were recording it, and slowly I became more and more Jamaican, to the point where I didn't leave.
- Keith Richards, Life (2010)


I guess it comes across that I'm more into songs. It wasn't as vague as the last album which kinda went on so long that I didn't like some of the things. There's more thought to this one. It was recorded all over the place over about two or three months. The tracks are much more varied than the last one. I didn't want it to be just a bunch of rock songs.
- Mick Jagger, 1973


We started off with Winter which was just Mick (Jagger) strumming on a guitar in the studio, and everything falling together from there. Angie and Dancing with Mr. D were recorded in the middle of the sessions and Starfucker was about the last. Some of the songs used were pretty old. 100 Years Ago was one that Mick had written two years ago and which we hadn't really got around to using before.
- Mick Taylor, 1973


(Because of drug habits), those sessions weren't quite as much fun. And there are a couple of examples on there where just the basic tracks we kept weren't really up to standard. People were accepting things perhaps that weren't up to standard because they were a little higher than normal. But there still are some fantastic things on there.
- Andy Johns


Keith: It's like when we went to Jamaica to cut Goats Head Soup. Everyone immediately assumed the Stones are going to do a reggae album. But influences come through so much slower than that.
Mick: We already knew the reggae things - we just didn't want to do it at that juncture...
Keith: More important, we didn't think we were capable of doing it.
Mick: Exactly. We weren't capable of doing it on record as good as we would have liked.
Keith: And we didn't have the experience of living there and integrating with the local music scene - the whole roots thing.
- Keith Richards & Mick Jagger, 1978


Jimmy Miller went in a lion and came out a lamb. We wore him out completely... Jimmy was great, but the more successful he became the more he got like Brian... (H)e ended up carving swastikas into the wooden console at Island Studios. It took him 3 months to carve a swastika. Meanwhile, Mick and I finished up Goats Head Soup.
- Keith Richards, 1974-75


Songwriting and playing is a mood. Like the last album we did 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.
- Mick Jagger, 1974


(The release) was delayed for two months because they're having all this trouble in America with these anti-pornography laws and Atlantic were incredibly uptight... (W)ith Goats Head Soup, they wanted to exclude Starfucker altogether. They got the complete horrors and screamed we're gonna be sued and everyone else got the horrors and I said I don't mind if I'm sued. I mean, I just fought and fought and fought... I can't bear it all... that finished me. I said, it's OUR fucking label! In reality it's not worth it. No, it's not worth the energy I spent on it and the time, trouble and pressures people try and force on me.
- Mick Jagger, 1974



 
 






 


APPRECIATION


I really like the new (album) actually. I enjoyed recording in Jamaica.

- Keith Richards, 1973


(Star Star is) the only song with any slice of cynicism. All the others are into beauty. It's very hard to write about those primitive emotions without being cynical about it - that's when you sound old. I mean, if you can't go into a coffee shop and sort of fall in love with every glass of coffee, and listen to the jukebox - that's difficult to portray in a song.

- Mick Jagger, 1973


I really feel close to this album, and I really put all I had into it... I guess it comes across that I'm more into songs. It wasn't as vague as the last album which kind of went on so long that I didn't like some of the things. There's more thought to this one. It was recorded all over the place over about two or three months. The tracks are much more varied than the last one. I didn't want it to be just a bunch of rock songs.

- Mick Jagger, 1973


Sometimes you feel you've never done an album where you're not really doing anything further, you're not taking things beyond what you've already done. You're just in one kind of groove and you feel you just want to stay in that position... Goats Head Soup, to me, was a marking-time album. I like it in many ways but I don't think it has the freshness that (It's Only Rock 'n Roll) has. Listening to it a couple of months ago and comparing it to this one that's how I felt.

- Keith Richards, 1974


(T)here's some very good things on that album. It's just the wrong emphasis on certain things. That was the period when Exile On Main Street was still a great idea but we'd only just split from Ireland. We'd only been away three months when we cut the fucker.

- Keith Richards, 1976


By the time of Goats Head Soup and It's Only Rock 'N Roll, people had to contend with Exile for real and that's why I say that Mick Taylor wasn't particularly good for the group. He joined at a time when with any other band he wouldn't have been forced out of England, forced to live that kind of life that was alien to him... He was really an odd man out. There was no way he could feel part of the whole thing as much as the rest of us... Mick Taylor wasn't good for the Stones. It was a sterile period for us 'cause there were things we had to force through. Maybe it's just me. It was a period we had to go through. Also Mick is such a LEAD guitarist, which completely destroyed the whole concept of the Stones, that is, the idea that you don't walk into a guitar store and ask for a lead guitar or a rhythm guitar. You PLAY a fuckin' GUITAR. You are a GUITAR player. If you just want to fuck about with three strings at the top end, well, alright, but that's not what the Stones are about.

- Keith Richards, 1976


Goats Head Soup is not one of my favorite albums, but there's a lot of interesting things on it. I think it's a weak album - it's a bit directionless. I think we all felt that way too, at the time.

- Mick Taylor, 1979


I didn't think there was any one song on there that really stood out. I thought Goats Head Soup was kind of bland, shall I say, after Exile On Main Street.

- Bobby Keys


The problem (with the Stones' mid-70s albums), which I was ignorant of for a long time, was studio musicians and sidemen taking over the band. The real problem with those albums was the band was led astray by brilliant players like Billy Preston. We'd start off a typical Stones track and Billy would start playing something so fuckin' good musically that we'd get sidetracked and end up with a compromised track. THAT made the difference.

- Keith Richards, 1983


I mean, everyone was using drugs, Keith particularly. So I think (the mid-70s albums) suffered a bit from all that. General malaise. I think we got a bit carried away with our own popularity and so on. It was a bit of a holiday period (laughs). I mean, we cared, but we didn't care as much as we had. Not really concentrating on the creative process, and we had such money problems. We had been so messed around by Allen Klein and the British Revenue. We were really in a very bad way. So we had to move. And it sort of destabilized us a bit. We flew off all edges... Not only couldn't we stay in England, we couldn't go to America because we had immigration problems. So we were limited. It was a very difficult period.

- Mick Jagger, 1995


I think that during the period I was with (the Stones), we did actually go in a lot of different directions. I mean, there were a lot of songs that we did that they've never really repeated the same type of song. Like songs on Goats Head Soup, which is not my favorite album, but still has got some good stuff on it...

- Mick Taylor, 2000

 
 
 





REVIEW EXCERPTS


History has proven it unwise to jump to conclusions about Rolling Stones albums. At first Sticky Fingers seemed merely a statement of doper hipness on which the Stones (in Greil Marcus' elegant phrase) rattled drugs as if they were maracas. But drugs wound up serving a figurative as well as a literal purpose and the album became broader and more ambiguous with each repeated listening. At first, Exile on Main Street seemed a terrible disappointment, with its murky, mindless mixes and concentration on the trivial. Over time, it emerged as a masterful study in poetic vulgarity. And if neither of the albums had eventually grown on me thematically, the music would have finally won me over anyway. Now Goats Head Soup stands as the antithesis of Exile - the Stones never worry about contradicting themselves - and it is a wise move, for it would have been suicidal to Exile's conceits any further. Compared to the piling on of one raunchy number on top of another, Soup is a romantic work, with an unmistakable thread of life-affirming pragmatisms running through it. It is set apart not only from Exile, but every past Stones' LP, by its emphasis on the ballad.... The Stones succeed because they rarely forget their purpose - the creation of rock & roll drama. It is for that reason that they can move from the snow-white Americana of Coming Down Again into the urban R&B of Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) without the batting of an eyelash—theirs or ours. When they are uncertain of their purpose - as on Dancing With Mr. D. - they can be hopelessly silly. That track is the weakest opener ever so positioned on one of their albums, and they've never performed with less conviction... There are too many secondary songs on Goats Head Soup to rate it an ultimate Rolling Stones album. The content-defying title expresses the group's uncertainty about its performance. But... three great ballads place the album among their most intimate and emotionally absorbing work. At the same time, Starfucker maintains the stature of the Stones as grand masters of the rock & roll song. If they've played it safe this time, their caution has nevertheless reaped some rewards. Soup stands right next to Mott, the thematically similar LP of the Stones' brightest students, as the best album of 1973. For me, its deepening and unfolding over the coming months will no doubt rate as one of the year's richest musical experiences.

- Bud Scoppa, Rolling Stone, November 1973


Last year he was singing about what he looks like this year. It sounded better than it looks. Just like Jagger on the Goats Head Soup album cover, the filmy scarf or whatever it is making him look sorta like Judy Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis... don't like that smile, it's just vacant... who is this guy anyway... and inside Charlie and Bill no longer likeable, but not even interestingly unpleasant... the whole thing is just pretentious, Mick Taylor is a big asshole obviously trying to look bad, amoral, like early Lou Reed or something.... But that's not their image anymore, Mick. What is? Nothing. Nondescript fabulousness... There is a sadness about the Stones now, because they amount to such an enormous So what? The sadness comes when you measure not just one album, but the whole sense they're putting across now against what they once meant... Just because the Stones have abdicated their responsibilities is no reason we have to sit still for this shit! Because there is just literally nothing new happening. Bowie is a style collector with almost no ideas of his own, Reed's basically just reworking his old Velvets ideas, people like Elton John are reaching back into nostalgia but that's a blind alley, and everybody else is playing the blues. So unless we get the Rolling Stones off their asses IT'S THE END OF ROCK 'N' ROLL!

- Lester Bangs, Creem, December 1973


Sure, I was as full of nervous anticipation as you were. Every new Stones album has to plow through such expectations that the Second Coming would flop first hearing. Witness mass turnabouts re Exile... Maybe, for all its pleasures, that's what drags you about this album: its air of resolute complacency. Much of Mick's singing simply lacks the intensity of yore, and the album isn't ABOUT much. The Stones are still consummate entertainers, but somewhere along the line we began to expect something more than entertainment from them. In Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed, the Stones began to tell us what was going on... And that's what missing in this very durable record. And beneath that knowledge is the wonderment at how that durable expertise carries on in the face of disintegration. The Rolling Stones are no longer a quintet but now such a perfect corporation that you don't even think to complain when you get expert sax solos instead of Keith's lowslung, lunging forays. A lot of covering up going on, and they're good at it, so Keith's fade and the Stones' cruise into future muzak doesn't hurt at all. You expected more, you won't again. Gotta be disappointed, but you gotta rationalise yourself into love too, 'cause you're a trooper. So are they. So what?

- Allen Crowley, Creem, December 1973

 


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