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September 2, 2020

Ron Hart 5 Highlights from The Rolling Stones’ Goats Head Soup Box Set

By the end of 1972, according to Keith Richards, Switzerland and Jamaica were the only two countries that welcomed The Rolling Stones across their borders thanks to their rough and rowdy ways on tour.

In no rush to cut the party short, the band chose to continue their Jimmy Miller years under the watchful eye of Jah Almighty, thus establishing a romance with the island nation that can still be heard in 2020 on their dubby new single “Living In A Ghost Town.” In November 1972, the Stones set up camp in Kingston at legendary Jamaican studio Dynamic Sound. The approach to the new material on Goats Head Soup (1973) was very much a seamless segue from Exile On Main St. (1972), though the change of location does give way to a little more slink to the band’s then-present blend of grit and grease as such fan favorites as “Dancin With Mr. D,” “Silver Train,” and “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” have showcased to us these last 47 years.

“I really feel close to [Goats Head Soup], and I really put all I had into it,” Jagger had said around the time the album it record stores. “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.”

While the bottomless riddims of reggae music would factor more prominently on 1976’s Black and Blue and beyond, the irie environment in Kingston certainly seeped into the walls of Dynamic Sound. The kind of looseness that made way for countless classics from such Jamaican icons as Jimmy Cliff, Augustus Pablo, Big Youth, Dillinger, Bob Marley, and beloved Stones pal Peter Tosh no doubt permeates Goats Head Soup.

“We would be driven to Byron Lee’s studio through downtown Kingston,” Bill Wyman explained in his 2001 book, Rolling with the Stones. “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 described it as just this side of claustrophobic; they were right.”

“I enjoyed making it,” Richards wrote about Goats Head Soup in his 2010 memoir, Life. “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.”

Yet for all the growl in Goats Head Soup, the album’s biggest hit was “Angie,” a beautiful piano ballad that featured the late Nicky Hopkins on the keys on a song written by Jagger and Richards while in Switzerland. And while there are many theories behind who the titular character is, from David Bowie’s first wife to Marianne Faithfull to Anita Pallenberg to his first daughter, Dandelion Angela, but as he explains in Life, Richards reveals it was written before he even knew the gender of the baby he shared with Pallenberg.

“While I was in the [Vevey drug] clinic (in March-April 1972), Anita was down the road having our daughter, Angela,” he wrote. “Once I came out of the usual trauma, I had a guitar with me and I wrote ‘Angie’ in an afternoon, sitting in bed, because I could finally move my fingers and put them in the right place again, and I didn’t feel like I had to s–t the bed or climb the walls or feel manic anymore. I just went, ‘Angie, Angie.’ It was not about any particular person; it was a name, like ohhh, Diana. I didn’t know Angela was going to be called Angela when I wrote ‘Angie.’ In those days you didn’t know what sex the thing was going to be until it popped out. In fact, Anita named her Dandelion. She was only given the added name Angela because she was born in a Catholic hospital where they insisted that a ‘proper’ name be added.”

goats head box set cd

As the Stones continue to provide fans with the most definitive overhaul of their catalog yet, it was indeed a nice surprise to learn that Goats Head Soup was the next album on deck, especially the “Super Deluxe” box set, arguably the most generous one yet in terms of bonus material.

Included in the four-disc set (three CDs and one Blu-ray) is the stereo album mix sourced from the original session files, rarities and alternative mixes featuring three previously unreleased tracks (“Scarlet,” “All The Rage,” and “Criss Cross“); and an official version of The Brussels Affair, a long-coveted bootleg for diehard Stones fans recorded live at the Forest National Arena in October 1973. Additionally, the big box also contains an exclusive 100-page book featuring a wealth of era-appropriate photographs, essays by Ian McCann, Nick Kent, and Daryl Easlea, and faithful reproductions of three tour posters from 1973.

“The Stones succeed because they rarely forget their purpose – the creation of rock & roll drama,” Bud Scoppa wrote of Goats Head Soup in Rolling Stone in 1973. “It’s deepening and unfolding over the coming months will no doubt rate as one of the year’s richest musical experiences.”

And when you compound that notion over the course of 47 years, such expansion proves the depths of this keynote Rolling Stones LP to be downright bottomless. Upon immersion of the deluxe Goats Head Soup, make sure you offer close consideration for these five highlights from the set.

“Winter”

It seems like half of Goats Head Soup is unsung treasures from the Stones songbook, yet it’s “Winter” that gets the shortest shrift, given how it’s a ballad preceded what’s considered to be their greatest slow jam in “Angie.” It’s a composition theoretically set in the cold climes of early January, yet the warmth of the Jamaican sun shining down on Dynamic Sound refuses to let things get too frigid, so he splits the difference and settles for California “when the lights on all the Christmas trees went out.” Richards does not appear on “Winter,” as this tune serves as a taste of the two Micks — Taylor and Jagger — proffering an alternative songwriting dynamic that was one of the great secret weapons to the strength of this period in Stones history.

“All The Rage”

When it comes to the trio of previously unreleased studio tracks from the Goats Head Soup era, all talk has been focused on “Scarlet,” which features Jimmy Page cutting heads with Keith Richards and Mick Taylor. But out of the three unreleased studio cuts, “All The Rage” sounds most like the Stones staple that got away with a full-tilt sway that feels the exact same way their 1973 Australian tour poster looks. This song is the younger, sassier sister of “Brown Sugar” and a real find for those obsessed with the Jimmy Miller era.

“Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” Glyn Johns 1973 mix

It’s easy to get swept up in the swing of this song enough to wrongfully overlook the gravitas of Jagger’s lyrics, which weep with harrowing tales of urban decay. This Glyn Johns mix of “Heartbreaker” punches up the urgency in a way that the original album version never quite achieves. When Jagger sings of the young boy shot by New York City cops in that first verse, it resonates in concert with the tone of our current times.

“Gimme Shelter” Brussels Affair version

“Gimme” has been a Stones concert staple since it debuted Side 2 of Let It Bleed in 1969, but the version they were playing in 1973 on The Brussels Affair finds the crucial vocal harmonizing — originated by Merry Clayton but enhanced upon in recent years by touring singer Lisa Fischer — substituted for a duel between Mick Taylor’s slide guitar and Bobby Keys’ sax lines that makes this take on “Shelter” so satisfying. Five years of interplay between the two reached a new zenith in 1973.

“Star Star” Brussels Affair version

There is nary a more lascivious song in the Stones canon than Goats Head Soup‘s closing number — raunchier than “Let It Bleed,” “Brown Sugar,” and “Some Girls” combined and otherwise known as “Starfucker.” A popular rumor is how former Jagger flame Carly Simon served as the muse for the tune, but whatever the case may be for its lewd lyricism, the band punctuated each live performance of “Star Star” with an accentuated emphasis on every F-bomb downplayed in the original studio version. This Brussels version is the most unadulterated take out there.

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falsepriest You Can Now Keep Your Friends Close on the Discogs Android App

Good friends are hard to come by. While we can’t really help you with that, we can help you manage your Friends list on Discogs. With the latest version of the Discogs Android app (2.19), you’ll be able to carry them around in your pocket.

Unlike most online interactions, which seem to center squarely around boring social media updates or hot-take political opinions from your weird uncle, adding Friends on the app keeps you up-to-date with the important stuff: what’s going on with your friends’ music collections.

The best-kept secret of the Friends feature is using it to save your favorite stores and sellers on Discogs. If you keep them in your Friends list, you can visit them any time (anyone else bad at remembering names?), get that order through on the double, check what’s new in their inventory, or ask a question via message. You can add up to 25 friends on Discogs.

Where to find your Friends on Android

Find fellow Discoggers you’ve added as friends on your profile under your Collection and Wantlist. Tap on “View More” to access the Friends page.

In this view, you can …

  • Add more friends. Type their username in the username search bar and tap “Add.” (You can also use the main site navigation to search a username. Just make sure you’ve got the exact username or it won’t work).
  • View your Friends list and tap to see their profile.

  • Remove someone from your Friends list. (You can also do this on their profile page with the “-” icon).
  • View Friends’ public activity, like what they’ve added to their Collection/Wantlist or submitted to the database. You can click through to any release from that activity.

Tell us what you think!

Please note we’re currently trialing this Discogs feature for the Android app only; it’s not available for iOS. If you’re an iPhone user and you think you’d get a kick out of using this feature in the app, please let us know in the iOS app forums or email us at help@discogs.com.

We’d also like to hear from all you Android app users who have ve used this app. Tell us what you think in the Android App forums or at help@discogs.com.

Feature image by Roman Kraft.

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Keith Nelson, Jr. From Blogs to Billboard: 4 Stars That Blossomed From Hip-Hop’s Blog Era

The last American-born creative renaissance occurred over the internet in glorified message boards thanks in part to the U.S. government’s narrow-mindedness. On January 16, 2007, DJ Drama and DJ Don Cannon were arrested after the Morrow County Sheriff’s Joint Vice Task Force and the Clayton County Police raided their offices, confiscating 81,000 mixtape CDs in an effort to curb pirated music sales. What law enforcement either failed to realize or didn’t care for was the fact that DJ Drama built a legacy hosting his Gangsta Grillz mixtapes featuring artists such as Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, and Pharrell rapping over beats from already released music, music for which they did not own the copyright. The government heard piracy; hip-hop heard culture.

No matter which side of the argument you stood on, one fact was immutable: The music released on blogs between 2007-2012 changed the face of popular music.

For ages, the music industry was a walled garden. Admission was granted to those with money and connections. Before you could make music on an iPhone, you had to either have money to record in a high-end studio or be signed to a label that fronted the cost. Even if you did get signed to a label, your album’s release was largely predicated on manufacturing times to produce CDs, vinyl, and cassettes. These barriers to entry limited how many new artists could be heard. Even with the advent of the internet, which flattened the world and connected everyone, digital platforms did not become the primary way people consumed music until 2011.

Following YouTube and Soundcloud’s debuts in 2005 and 2008, respectively, and the proliferation of budget-level recording equipment and software, paired with an economic recession, the walled garden quickly turned into a public park where anyone could play. Labels stock the shelves of retail stores with albums instead of selling them directly to fans because the stores have constant customers who trust the products they put on shelves. Now that artists had cheaper ways to record and inexpensive distribution options, all that was left was one thing: an audience.

That’s when blogs came into the picture. In the vast sea of music blogs, seven controlled the tides: 2DopeBoyz, OnSmash, YouHeardThatNew, Xclusives Zone, Miss Info, DaJaz1, and NahRight. These blogs would get exclusive access to songs before radio stations and, most importantly, gave artists their first exposure — hip-hop game-changers like Nipsey Hussle, Big Sean, Kendrick Lamar, and Wiz Khalifa. The consortium of blogs, famously named The New Music Cartel, were the tastemakers of flavors that the mainstream didn’t even know existed.

The Best Rap Album at the 52nd Grammy Awards was awarded to Eminem’s 2009 comeback album, Relapse. However, the best rap album of 2009 was actually a free mixtape from Drake called So Far Gone. Rick Ross threatened “fuck a blog, dawg, ‘cause one day we gon’ meet” in 2011. Jay Electronica threatened he’ll “Rap Radar, Nahright, 2dopeboy you” during his 2010 performance announcing his signing to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation.

The blog era renaissance was revered at the time for its impact, but it’s historic now for its prescience.

For Kendrick Lamar (2011’s Section.80), Drake (2009’s So Far Gone EP), and Mac Miller (2011’s On and On and Beyond EP), their first entry into the Billboard 200 were projects made of songs released freely on blogs. Rick Ross’s “B.M.F. (Blowing Money Fast),” the second single off his 2010 Teflon Don album, peaked at No. 60 on the Billboard Hot 100 on August 28, 2010, two months after being released to radio in June. A month before any of that transpired, it was track three on an Albert Anastaisa EP he released online.

Here are the four most impactful artists of the blog era and how their Billboard success is predicated on their blog-era beginnings.

Mac Miller

In 2010, Mac Miller wasn’t a marketable artist. Besides Asher Roth’s one-hit-wonder flame with 2009’s “I Love College,” there wasn’t a viable market for white rappers with more experience chugging kegs than being in the streets. However, he fit right in on blogs that championed quirky innovation, and these blogs jettisoned him to heights rarely seen by an artist with no Billboard presence at the time. For most of August 2011, months before Mac Miller released his major-label debut, Blue Slide Park, he was searched more on Google than mainstream rappers Lupe Fiasco and Rick Ross.

His proper introduction into the blog world came with his 2010 mixtape, K.I.D.S. From the first song, “Kickin’ Incredibly Dope Shit (Intro),” the promise is sublime with bittersweet lines like “being young so fun, I don’t ever want to age / I haven’t come down in the past five days.” The blog-era classic also features zany songs like “Kool-Aid & Frozen Pizza” that sound like early iterations of his more popular Billboard songs such as “Donald Trump.”

Kendrick Lamar

Before the blog era, Kendrick Lamar wasn’t Kendrick Lamar. Up until the very end of 2009, Lamar rapped under the moniker K-Dot and reintroduced himself under his birth name with his Kendrick Lamar EP he released for free on blogs. In the mainstream, reinvention for unproven artists usually results in disinterest. In the blog era, it resulted in a legend.

The militancy of Lamar’s visceral and unvarnished depictions of his Black life found in “Blacker The Berry” on To Pimp a Butterfly and “M.A.A.d City” on his debut Good Kid, M.A.A.d City was first introduced to the world on songs like “Ronald Reagan Era” and “F*ck Your Ethnicity” from Section.80. The somber singing that helped him score his earliest Billboard placements with “Poetic Justice” and “Swimming Pools (Drank)” has remnants in the seductive “P&P 1.5” from his 2010 mixtape Overly Dedicated.

Drake

Without blogs, the most popular artist of the past decade would’ve probably been someone else. For years, Drake was better known as Jimmy Brooks from Degrassi, a television role that precluded major labels from taking his musical aspirations serous. It wasn’t until Lil Wayne heard Drake’s freely released mixtape, 2006’s Room for Improvement, that Drake got his first co-sign from a major artist and the rest is history. Blogs weren’t just a natural consequence for Drake; they were his lifeline.  He was directing listeners to the blog in songs and even debuted his most successful project, So Far Gone, on that same blog.

Incontrovertibly, Drake’s So Far Gone mixtape was the most successful product of the blog era and reification of the mainstream viability of the blog world. The mixtape produced two Top 20 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including a No. 2 smash in “Best I Ever Had,” the song of Summer 2009 and the song that introduced most of Drake’s fans to the Canadian lyricist. The success of “Best I Ever Had,” a singing-rap hybrid, predicates the last decade of Drake’s success with similar songs such as No. 1 single “God’s Plan” from 2018 and No. 4 single “Hold On We’re Going Home” from 2013.

J. Cole

Most of J. Cole’s core fanbase first heard the poetic lyricist on his 2009 mixtape, The Warm Up, after seeing every blog promote him as the first signee to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation imprint. The mixtape was quickly heralded as one of the finest projects of the blog era. Cole’s manager at the time, Mike Rooney, remembers he and Cole playing 60% to 70% of the songs that ended up on The Warm Up for Jay-Z during their first meeting. In essence, his blog ties got him signed to the greatest rapper of all time.

When J. Cole reached No. 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2013 with “Crooked Smile,” a beautiful ode to embracing the imperfections of life, blog-era Cole fans heard the similarities to his poetic ode to the simplicities of life, “Lights Please,” from The Warm Up. His first Drake collaboration (“In The Morning”) and his only collaboration with Kanye West (“Looking For Trouble”) were both on a mixtape he wished Jay-Z thought could be his debut album, 2010’s Friday Night Lights. Cole’s Billboard footprints can be traced back to blog posts before radio play.

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