Goats Head Soup is the 11th British and 13th American studio album by The Rolling Stones, released in August 1973. Like predecessor Exile on Main St., it had the band forced to compose and record outside the United Kingdom, this time in Jamaica and the Netherlands. The album contained 10 tracks, all written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, including lead single "Angie", which went to No. 1 as a single in the US and top 5 in the UK. Goats Head Soup received positive reviews and achieved number one chart positions in the UK, US and several other World markets.
In November 1972 the band relocated to Kingston, Jamaica's Dynamic Sound Studios. Keith Richards said in year 2002: "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, which was damn boring for me, at least for the first year, because I didn't like to ski... Nine countries kicked me out, thank you very much, so it was a matter of how to keep this thing together..."
Of the recording process, Marshall Chess, the president of Rolling Stones Records at the time, said in 2002, "We used to book studios for a month, 24 hours a day, so that the band could keep the same set-up and develop their songs in their free-form way, starting with a few lyrics and rhythms, jamming and rehearsing while we fixed the sound. It amazed me, as an old-time record guy, that the Stones might not have played together for six or eight months, but within an hour of jamming, the synergy that is their strength would come into play and they would lock it together as one..."
Jagger said of their approach to recording at the time, "Songwriting and playing is a mood. Like the last album we did (Exile on Main St.) 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."
On the sessions and influence of the island, Richards said, "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."
The first track recorded at Dynamic was "Winter", which Mick Taylor said started with "just Mick (Jagger) strumming on a guitar in the studio, and everything falling together from there."
The album's lead single, called "Angie", was an unpopular choice as lead single with Atlantic Records which, according to Chess, "wanted another 'Brown Sugar' rather than a ballad." Although the song was rumoured to be about David Bowie's first wife Angela, both Jagger and Richards have consistently denied this. In 1993, Richards, in the liner notes to the compilation album Jump Back: The Best of The Rolling Stones, said that the title was inspired by his baby daughter, Dandelion Angela. However, in his 2010 memoir Life, Richards denied this, saying that he had chosen the name for the song before he knew the sex of his expected baby: "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." According to NME, the lyrics written by Jagger were inspired by Jagger's breakup with Marianne Faithfull.
This was the last Rolling Stones album produced by Jimmy Miller, who'd worked with the band since 1968's Beggars Banquet sessions. Unfortunately, Miller had developed a debilitating drug habit during the course of his years spent with the Stones.
Aside from the official band members, other musicians appearing on Goats Head Soup include keyboard players Billy Preston, Nicky Hopkins, and Ian Stewart.
Recording was completed in January 1973 in Los Angeles and May 1973 at London's Olympic Sound Studios. The song 'Silver Train' actually was a leftover from 1970s recordings at Olympic Sound Studios, and 'Hide Your Love' was recorded during rehearsals at De Doelen in Rotterdam. Goats Head Soup was also the band's first album without any cover songs since Their Satanic Majesties Request in 1967.
At the time of release, Jagger said, “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.”
The album cover was designed by Ray Lawrence and photographed by David Bailey, a friend of Jagger's who had worked with The Rolling Stones since 1964. The portrait of Jagger on the front cover was approximately life size in the original 12-inch LP format. Jagger was reluctant to be shot enveloped by a pink chiffon veil, which Bailey said was meant to look like "Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen". The album's gatefold has all the band members wrapped around a similar fabric.
Preceded by “Angie” as the lead single, which sailed to number one in the United States and became a worldwide hit, Goats Head Soup was released in late August 1973 and also shot to the top of charts worldwide. The Rolling Stones' autumn 1973 European Tour followed soon after, in which four slots in the set list were given to the new material: “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)”, “Star Star”, “Dancing with Mr D”, and “Angie” – although apart from a few earlier performances of “Silver Train” and “100 Years Ago” nothing else from Goats Head Soup has ever been played live by the Stones. (The popular bootleg recording Brussels Affair would result from this tour.)
Critical reaction to the album was varied at the time. Bud Scoppa called the album "one of the year's richest musical experiences" in Rolling Stone, while Lester Bangs derided the effort in Creem, saying, "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..."
Goats Head Soup is now generally considered to have marked the end of the Stones' "golden age", with Stephen Thomas Erlewine saying, "Sliding out of perhaps the greatest winning streak in rock history, the Stones slipped into decadence and rock star excess with Goats Head Soup... This is where the Stones' image began to eclipse their accomplishments, as Mick ascended to jet-setting celebrity and Keith slowly sunk deeper into addiction, and it's possible hearing them moving in both directions on Goats Head Soup, at times in the same song." Goats Head Soup has endured as a popular seller, it has gone triple platinum in the United States and went on to sell close to 6.5 million copies worldwide.
The sessions for Goats Head Soup were abundant with outtakes. Two of these — "Tops" and "Waiting on a Friend" — would surface on Tattoo You in 1981, and feature Mick Taylor on guitar; "Through the Lonely Nights" became the B-side to the "It's Only Rock 'n Roll (But I Like It)" single and was released on CD for the first time on the 2005 compilation Rarities 1971–2003. It is a soft rock ballad that features Richards on wah wah/leslie speaker filtered guitar with Mick Taylor playing a brief solo.
In 1994 Goats Head Soup was remastered and reissued by Virgin Records, and again in 2009 by Universal Music. The 1994 remaster was initially released in a Collector's Edition CD, which replicated in miniature many elements of the original gatefold album packaging. The first pressing of the 2009 remaster contains a censored version of "Star Star" that was on the original US vinyl release, but not on the 1994 Virgin CD; later pressings contain the uncensored version.
The album was reissued once more in 2011 by Universal Music Enterprises in a Japanese-only SHM-SACD version, which includes the uncensored version of "Star Star" with a previously unreleased fadeout.
All songs written and composed by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.The Rolling Stones
Mick Jagger – lead and backing vocals, rhythm guitar on "Winter", harmonica on "Silver Train", piano on "Hide Your Love".
Keith Richards – electric and acoustic guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals on "Coming Down Again", bass guitar on "100 Years Ago", "Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)" and "Silver Train", lead guitar on "Star Star".
Mick Taylor – electric, acoustic and slide guitar, backing vocals, bass guitar on "Dancing with Mr. D" and "Coming Down Again", rhythm guitar on "Star Star".
Bill Wyman – bass guitar.
Charlie Watts – drums.
Nicky Hopkins – piano on "Dancing with Mr. D", "100 Years Ago", "Coming Down Again", "Angie", "Winter", and "Can You Hear the Music".
Billy Preston – clavinet on "100 Years Ago"; piano on "Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)".
Ian Stewart – piano on "Silver Train" and "Star Star".
Bobby Keys – tenor and baritone saxophone.
Jim Horn – flute and alto saxophone.
Chuck Findley – trumpet.
Jim Price – horn arrangement on "Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)".
Nicky Harrison – string arrangement on "Angie" and "Winter".
Anthony "Rebop" Kwaku Baah – percussion on "Dancing with Mr. D" and "Can You Hear the Music".
Pascal (Nicholas Pascal Raicevic) – percussion on "Dancing with Mr. D" and "Can You Hear the Music".
Jimmy Miller – percussion on "Can You Hear the Music".
Chief engineer and Mixer – Andy Johns.
Assistant engineers – Carlton Lee, Howard Kilgour and Doug Bennett.
Photography and sleeve design by David Bailey.