5. Goats Head Soup (1973)

Ask any hardnosed Rolling Stones fan which album is the band's most underrated, and nine out of ten will tell you it's this one. Other than the closing cut, songs like "Angie" are as mellow as the Stones get. There's also the incomparable "Winter;" buoyed by Mick Taylor's wonderful guitars, this is one of the best songs to play on a cold day. Goats Head Soup was the last Stones album produced by Jimmy Miller, which is a pity, because he knew how to coax true greatness out of them in the studio, unlike a lot of other producers.

Listen: "Winter"


4. Some Girls (1978)

Ron Wood's shining moment as a Stone. With the exception of "Lies," which is your average album-stretching tune, the rest of Some Girls is excellent. "Far Away Eyes" is a fantastic little country ditty, thanks to Wood's slide guitar. Recent CD versions of Some Girls now include a bonus disc that includes an extra twelve songs recorded during the album's original sessions, and it's just as wonderful as the main LP. 

Listen: "Far Away Eyes"


3. Beggars Banquet (1968)

The last full album with Jones, who plays excellent slide guitar on "No Expectations," Banquet shows the true gelling of Jagger and Richards as songwriters. Jagger wrote the lyrics to "Sympathy for the Devil," but it was Richards who changed around the beat of the song. You can thank Anita Pallenburg for "Devil"'s "woo-woo" backing vocals: she was in the studio with producer Jimmy Miller while the band was recording the song, heard Miller singing "who-who" after Jagger sang each verse, and suggested the group add the line to the song.

Listen: "Sympathy for the Devil"


2. Let It Bleed (1969)

Keith Richards isn't the Stone typically known for slide guitar playing, but on Let it Bleed you get to hear a lot of just that from him. He plays almost all of the guitars heard on here, as Let It Bleed was recorded during the time when Brian Jones was departing and Mick Taylor was arriving. Jones appears on two tracks, playing autoharp and drums, while Taylor adds the only other guitars heard on the LP, on "Country Honk" and "Live with Me." Ian "Stu" Stewart's boogie-woogie piano playing livens up the title track, my personal favorite.

Listen: "Let It Bleed"


1. Sticky Fingers (1971)

The Stones' true masterpiece. Some beautiful ballads are on here, including "Wild Horses," and "Moonlight Mile," clearly the band's most underrated song. "Brown Sugar" is obviously another winner, in part thanks to Bobby Keys' fantastic sax. And of course, there's the country-rock of "Dead Flowers," with its drug-jive referencing title. Sticky Fingers remains the best, and quintessential Stones album: emotionally raw, dangerous, and groovy as hell, just like the band who made it.

Listen: "Moonlight Mile"


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