I found this much easier than the Beatles list. Not that it was easy though. Rather than link all the songs via YouTube, let’s try a Spotify playlist.
1. Gimme Shelter: What is that opening guitar? A riff? A lead? Whatever it is, it’s unforgettable. Everything comes together almost magically; the backup singer woken up from sleep with no notice and too hoarse to sing somehow leads to rock’s greatest mistake.
2. Moonlight Mile: Jagger steps out of character and the result is a warm intimacy that feels perfect whether he’s coming down from a cocaine high or a long, cold and lonely night on the road.
3. Tumbling Dice: Odd that something so laid back and groovy could be the product of 150 takes. The way Richards and Mick Taylor play off each other just slays me. There’s a fever in the funk house, alright.
4. Sway: Like “Moonlight Mile,” rumored to be actually a Jagger-Taylor composition. Taylor’s guitars shine regardless. Has anyone ever played better than on Taylor’s solo outro? Doubtful. That’s the sex, but the intro riff is what first seduces.
5. Miss You: Maybe the most bad-ass thing the Stones ever did was record a “disco” song when their fans were busy rioting over its sudden prominence. Of course, Miss You isn’t a disco song at all, whatever that even is. But it’s damn fine on the dance floor.
6. No Expectations: Much of Beggar’s Banquet seems posey to me: satanic (Sympathy for the Devil), salacious (Stray Cat Blues), revolutionary (Street Fighting Man), Dylanesque (Jigsaw Puzzle), blue collar (Salt of the Earth). But this seems very real and a fitting, beautiful swang song for Brian Jones.
7. Under My Thumb: Sounds as cool as the narrarator suggests he is as the winner of this sexual power struggle, a hallmark of all post-adolescent relationships. Accusations of misogyny are just lazy. The marimba riff works. And Marc Bolan made a career out of mimicing Jagger’s use of his breath as an instrument.
8. Memory Motel: One of the few (only?) songs where Jagger and Richards alternate lead vocals. Love the piano and the sha-la-las. I like the songs where Jagger as principle lyricist seems like an actual person.
9. Let It Bleed: For all its tongue-in-cheek perversion, it’s really a song about needing someone and being willing and even eager to reciprocate in kind. In other words, nice. They backed into it.
10. Ventilator Blues: You feel like you’re doing something wrong when you listen to this song. It’s one of their nastier riffs, fittingly: Your woman’s cussing/you can hear her scream/You feel like murder/in the first degree….
Just in case you skipped the intro, you can listen to this album, of sorts, right here via Spotify.