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 Goat's Head Soup stands as the antithesis of Exilethe Stones never worry about contradicting themselvesand 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. Its three key songs"Angie," "Comin' Down Again," and "Winter"are suffused with melancholy. But of the five rockers, only "Star Star" ("Starfucker") rings out with classic Stones sass. The others exist either more as changes of pace or as commentary on the album's larger mood, rather than as autonomous works.
And yet for all its differences, Soup sustains some significant continuities with its immediate predecessors. With all its rocker energy, it was the personal, subjective songs on Sticky Fingers, like "Wild Horses" and "Moonlight Mile," that finally lingered in my mind. And for all its thunder, Exile contained in whatever lyrics were audible, a very personal sense of weariness and confusion. "Tumbling Dice," "Let It Loose" and "Torn And Frayed" were sung with such pent-up emotion that their powerful band tracks flew outward from the vocal, as if the direct result of inspiration drawn from it.
As usual, on Soup the Stones continue to work within existing frameworks, redefining and personalizing everything they touch. In this case, they make brilliant use of the styles of some protegesVan Morrison on "Winter" and Gram Parsons on "Comin' Down Again"while picking up a few things from groups as disparate as the Allman Brothers Band and War. The string arrangements are again close in texture to Elton John's. But they use all of their influences in a fashion superior to the current recordings of their originators. Other artists have built careers on modes the Stones have kicked away without a backward look.
The Stones succeed because they rarely forget their purposethe creation of rock & roll drama. It is for that reason that they can move from the