Updated November 2010!
Hey! You! Aye, You! You’ve probably stumbled onto here via Google or whatever search engine or blog aggregator you use, hoping to find some Rolling Stones goodies. Just to let you know, the links for the music contained herein are looooooooong dead, but, BUT! you can now get them from here – https://philspector.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/rolling-stones-jigsaw-puzzle/ instead. Oh yeah!
Yes! It’s yet another of those fantastic studio master tapes that are all over the internet! It’s hard to top The Beatles Master Tapes. You might say they’ll never be topped. But this is a close second. Very close. This time it’s only THE STONES! THE ROLLING STONES! The master tapes of ‘Gimme Shelter’! Oh yes! No kidding! You may have these tracks already, cos they have appeared almost everywhere online, but I am aware that many visitors to this site come specifically to find studio gems such as these, so if you don’t have it, prepare to be dazzled. Daaaaaaaa-zzled!
A dazzled Mick. Camp? Moi?
Part 1. The History. ‘Gimme Shelter’ appeared on ‘Let It Bleed’ (the cake on the cover was made by Delia Smith, fact #1) and released in 1969. As you all know the song was the soundtrack to the end of the 60s. Rape, murder, it’s just a shot away, and all that. The Hells Angels murdered someone in the crowd at Altamont and the whole of the 60s went tits up and finished. Just like that. The decade that had started so brightly and full of hope ended (musically) on a sour note. But like I said, you all knew that.
Everyone waves bye bye to the end of the 60s
The song was written by Jagger and Richards. Jagger was getting lyrics together between takes of the film ‘Performance‘ that he was making at the time. Richards was playing about with the distinctive intro looking for a song to fit it. Et voila. Recording took place at Olympic Studios in London around February and March 1969 with Jimmy Miller producing. In one of those magical moments that occur now and again, Miller suggested getting a female vocalist to duet with Jagger. Cue Merry Clayton (incorrectly credited as Mary Clayton on the album, fact #2). Clayton’s high pitched, powerful vocal performance made the song. Her vocals are absolutely astounding.
Merry Mary Clayton
If you don’t believe me, here‘s the double tracked vocal-only performance. Just Jagger and Clayton battling it out. Listen out around the 3 minute mark as her voice cracks under the pressure and Jagger whoops a celebratory “Oh yeah!”. It. Is. Astonishing. Jagger later said of the finished track, “That’s a kind of end-of-the-world song, really. It’s apocalypse.” And the vocal track certainly backs this up. And if you liked that part enough….
Keith. 27th November 1969. 15 days after I was born. Fact #3
Part 2. The Science Part. The files for these master tapes came originally (I think) from some enterprising kind soul with a Keith Richards fixation and a copy of the ‘Rock Band’ computer game. They are in ogg vorbis format, which means they cannot be played directly into Windows Media or iTunes or anything like that. But fear not. Get yourself Audacity. Install it and open it up. Open a new file from the menu, find the ‘Gimme Shelter.mogg’ file that you’ve just downloaded, double click it and by the wonders of technology, after about a minute you’ll find all 9 tracks open up simultaneously. Press ‘play’ and the whole track as you know it will start. Now let the fun begin. On the left hand side of your screen you will see the option to ‘mute‘ the track. Have fun muting the various tracks. Then click and drag across the track you want to isolate and save it as a wma file. You can make instrumental tracks for karaoke (why?) or you can make guitar-free tracks so that you can jam along. Whatcha waitin’ for?
YOU CAN BE KEITH RICHARDS FOR 4 MINUTES!!!
Footnote. There have been many, many covers of ‘Gimme Shelter’. Merry Clayton did one herself. I don’t have my copy handy at present or I would’ve included it in this post. Suffice to say, a future ‘Gimme Shelter Covers‘ post is almost guaranteed. From the sublime to the ridiculous, they’ve all done it. Inspiral Carpets, Hawkwind with Sam Fox, Patti Smith, Voice Of The Beehive…..prepare to be irked.
UPDATE Feb. 09
Links were deleted by internet police, but you can find the instrumental guitar tracks here.