The Rolling Stones 11th British and 13th American studio album, “Goats Head Soup”, was released in 1973. It featured the song “Angie“, which went to No. 1 as a single in the US and top 5 in the UK.The producer of the album was Jimmy Miller. 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”. The album itself didn’t take that long, but they recorded a large number of tracks.
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 and has gone triple platinum in the United States.
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.
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.
In 1994 Goats Head Soup was remastered and reissued by Virgin Records, and again in 2009 by Universal Music. The first pressing of the Universal 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.