The most complete Ry Cooder discography in the Universe
Image from Ry Cooder web site
PGD/Abkco 7539
The Rolling Stones
Beggars Banquet
  1. Sympathy For The Devil
  2. No Expectations (Ry Cooder: slide guitar?)
  3. Dear Doctor
  4. Parachute Woman
  5. Jigsaw Puzzle
  6. Street Fighting Man
  7. Prodigal Son
  8. Stray Cat Blues
  9. Factory Girl (Ry Cooder: mandolin)
  10. Salt Of The Earth

© 1968 PGD/Abkco

There is no evidence on the album itself that Ry Cooder contributed, but here is an extract from the Ry Cooder List.

Joel Bellman wrote: "Unless somebody's got countervailing information, I believe Ry's contribution to "Beggar's Banquet" as absolutely zero.". The following messages were posted in response:

Date: 03-Mar-98 From: Reinhard Koman

I'm not so sure. There is somebody playing a mandolin in "Factory Girl" and I have read some time ago, somewhere - and I don't know where, unfortunately - that it is Ry Cooder. It would make sense; I know of only one other Rolling Stones song with a mandolin, "Love In Vain" on "Let It Bleed", which was recorded at about the same time (next album after "Beggar's Banquet"), and Ry Cooder was given credit for that one.

Date: 06-Mar-98 From: Hans Hummer

According to David Dalton's "The Rolling Stones. The first 20 years" (Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1981, p.190) Ry Cooder was present during the Beggars Banquet sessions sometime between March 1 - June, 1968. Later on, in the early summer of 1970 he again was present for the Sticky Fingers sessions, together, among others, with a certain J.Dickinson.

About a year back I downloaded a file from the WWW that deals with Beggars Banquet, as follows.

Beggars Banquet marked an unexpected musical turn for the Rolling Stones. Since the release of Aftermath in 1966, their music moved in the direction of ever-greater ornamentation and complexity, with a special focus on psychedelic sounds. Sitars, flutes, Mellotrons, and other exotic instruments were frequently heard, and most of the music had a decidedly druggy ambiance.

When Beggars Banquet hit record stores in late 1968, the faintly fey, elegant pop-psychedelia of "She's a Rainbow" and "Dandelion" became instant relics. In their place was a new emphasis on blues and country music -- the former had loomed large in the Stones's repertory until "Satisfaction," while the latter had never seemed to be their forte. Slide guitar and blues harmonica, and to a lesser extent mandolin and country fiddle, now dominated.

The self-conscious prettiness of the last two years was abandoned for coarser, raunchier material -- "Factory Girl" pushed out "Lady Jane." Significantly, after three albums that relied on every studio trick the band could muster, Beggars Banquet was composed of music they could actually play on stage. The Stones were going back to being a band.

Jimmy Miller, renowned for his work with the Spencer Davis Group and Traffic, was brought in to produce the album. During an inspired two-week run the Stones recorded several of their most muscular, enduring tunes -- "Street Fighting Man," "Jig-Saw Puzzle," "Parachute Woman," and "Jumping Jack Flash." The latter was so strong that the band rushed it out as a single, even though it originally was conceived as the centerpiece of Beggars Banquet.

The sessions extended into April and May, and the record was finished in just over three months. Unlike Satanic Majesties, which limped out of the studio with just enough material to make an album, Beggars Banquet boasted 10 superb songs and an equally impressive body of unreleased tracks that would surface in the future.

"Sympathy for the Devil"

The last track completed for the new album, "Sympathy for the Devil" (originally entitled "The Devil Is My Name") went through a complicated evolution, starting out as a rollicking folk-like number similar to "Jig-Saw Puzzle." According to Bill Wyman in Stone Alone, it didn't work that way, but the group kept at it, altering the tempo and sound until it became a kind of demonic samba in the hands of Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts. Nicky Hopkins played a major role in creating the sound of the finished song, his piano emerging as an important part of the reconstituted Stones.

In its subject matter the song broke new ground: the singer postured as the devil and alluded to historical events from biblical times to the present (the line "who killed Kennedy" was revised when Robert was murdered shortly before the recording session). The song has become so familiar and representative of the Stones that it's now difficult for us to appreciate just how listeners and critics alike were overpowered, not only by the boldness of the songwriting, but also by the performances. Keith Richard tore into his guitar solos with a ferocity that seemed to forget the previous two years of druggy digressiveness. Equally striking were Jagger's vocal contortions, recalling Little Richard and Otis Redding.

"No Expectations"

Under the influence of the great Robert Johnson, "No Expectations" became the band's signature soulful blues numbers. The return of the slide guitar was as welcome as it was unexpected. While recording Beggars Banquet, the Stones made a virtue of using guest musicians, including virtuoso guitarist Ry Cooder, then all but unknown to the public, and Dave Mason of Traffic. Both of them, as well as Brian Jones, recorded slide-guitar parts for "No Expectations," and nobody involved seems very clear on whose recording was used on the released version.

The other magnificently effective element in the song is Nicky Hopkins' elegant piano; with Beggars Banquet he was to become virtually a charter member of the band for the next few years, playing with them on stage as well as on their albums.

"Dear Doctor"

This tune showed the Stones moving into country blues with a vengeance. The song and its lyrics practically ooze roadhouse bourbon -- the victim of a shotgun wedding gone awry pours out his tale of a treacherous woman who has run off with one of his relatives, much to the victim's relief.

It's hard to believe that this is the same band that a year earlier was regaling audiences with space chronicles, but here the Stones sound much more comfortable. Nicky Hopkins's honky-tonk piano in the song's second half adds another flash of color to this comic song. The identity of the harmonica player is almost certainly Mick Jagger, overdubbed.

"Parachute Woman"

"Parachute Woman" is a demonstration of just how well the sessions of Beggars Banquet started out. This slow, erotic blues features the band's tightest playing in years; here they create a muscular guitar-driven sound that underlies about as raunchy a subject as the Stones had ever broached. Keith Richards's lead guitar is extremely powerful, especially on the break (you can also catch his acoustic flourishes on the opposing channel).

The very fact that the Stones could get "Parachute Woman" released in 1968 showed just how loose the standards had become, or perhaps how well the Stones had learned to manipulate the system -- "Parachute Woman" slipped past anyone who might've objected (the exhortation to the parachute woman to "land on me tonight" was probably outside the record label's lexicon).

The release of Beggars Banquet illustrated the Stones's mastery of a trick developed by Chuck Berry. According to Berry, the way to circumvent censors was either to sing fast or use terms they couldn't figure out. The kids, of course, knew what they were buying. Had the Stones still been singing languid psychedelic tunes or aiming for the younger audience that bought their earlier singles, most of Beggars Banquet might not have made it through -- as it was, the album hit an expansion of Bob Dylan's audience rather than a distillation of the Beatles's -- college kids could really appreciate this 40-minute survey of demonic temptations, bluesy decadence, and country-style dissipation.

"Jig-Saw Puzzle"

At one moment in "Jig-Saw Puzzle," both the beat and Jagger's vocals echo the band's previous foray into Bob Dylan territory -- "Who's Been Sleeping Here" from Between the Buttons. From the doorstep tramp to the bishop's daughter to the gangster -- not to mention the allusion to impending rain -- "Jig-Saw Puzzle"'s imagery is highly reminiscent of Dylan's "Desolation Row."

As a strange, stripped-down piece of bluesy near-psychedelia with no solution in sight, the song itself is a puzzle. Which bothered no one, mainly due to the incessant beat carried by Charlie Watts and Nicky Hopkins.

"Street Fighting Man"

In the studio under Jimmy Miller, the Stones tried to recreate the guitar-heavy sound of Keith Richard's original demo of this tune, tentatively titled "Everybody Pays Their Dues." It never came out with the same kind of punch-in-the-chest impact but, Bill Wyman later explained, the turning point came when Charlie Watts began playing an antique snare drum and cymbal he'd showed up with and Keith Richards joined in on acoustic guitar. The rhythm track was compressed on a portable recorder, and the song was built up from there, guitar upon guitar, fringed with Brian's glistening tamboura and barely audible sitar, his last really substantial contribution to the group's sound.

"Street Fighting Man," a Jagger-Richards take on topical songwriting, was inspired by the student riots in France and in London earlier that year. American radio stations, however, had no way of knowing the chronology of the song's recording. When it was released as a single in August of 1968, many presumed the song concerned the riots at Chicago's Democratic National Convention; as a result it was widely banned by radio stations. The choice of a picture sleeve depicting police battling demonstrators in Los Angeles only sealed the single's commercial fate. On the other side of the Atlantic, Decca Records didn't release the song as a single until 1970, long after the events that led to its writing and recording had been forgotten.

"Prodigal Son"

With Beggars Banquet the Rolling Stones began paying back the bluesmen who'd come before them. To some extent they always had -- the Stones covered songs by Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and other usually Chicago-based bluesmen whom they regarded as forebears. On Beggars Banquet, though, they reached back even further, past the Chicago blues of Chess Studios to a rural tradition they had so far left alone. Penned by the Reverend Robert Wilkins, "Prodigal Son" was the first blues cover song recorded by the Rolling Stones since Willie Dixon's "Little Red Rooster."

"Stray Cat Blues"

Jagger's sleazy chuckle opens the song, and it only gets raunchier from there. The raw sexuality of this groupie seduction story is matched by the hardness of sound. After the acoustic textures of "Prodigal Son," Keith Richards's electric guitars here sound like steel scraping steel.

According to Jagger, the Stones had become fans of the Velvet Underground songs like "Heroin" and "White Light/White Heat." Jagger's vocals on "Stray Cat Blues" do seem to emulate Lou Reed until the line just before the break; he comes off like Reed in a reflective moment. The ominous single-string opening recalls Velvets material like "Heroin," and Keith Richards's guitar matches the Velvets' textures -- the break builds into one of those John Cale/Lou Reed-style proto-metal jams, la "Sister Ray"; the instruments fade into the groans of torture devices, with what sounds like a guitar imitating a viola and perhaps an organ drifting in on one channel at the fade.

"Factory Girl"

The most countrified number on Beggars Banquet introduces an instrument wholly new to the Stones' repertory, the mandolin, as played by Ry Cooder. By the time these sessions were done, Cooder had been offered the chance to join the group as Brian Jones's replacement. He turned it down, of course, preferring instead to make his way as a solo act in his own image.

There's also a country fiddle in here, courtesy of Lord knows who. Nicky Hopkins suggested it for flavor, and it works, giving the track the feel of an authentic folk song recorded in the field. As a piece of rural working-class sentiment, it was different for the Stones but still slotted in perfectly alongside the rural blues and urban blues/rock found elsewhere on the record.

"Salt of the Earth"

In this song's opening verse Keith Richards gets his first-ever solo lead vocal, anticipating his solo on "You Got The Silver" from the same sessions. Then, after intoning his lines with as much fervor as he can muster, Jagger is joined by a female chorus, which eventually supplants him. The same structure would be repeated in "You Can't Always Get What You Want," which was produced even more ostentatiously. For the fade the rest of the band makes a reappearance: Keith's guitars come back in, followed by Charlie's drums, and finally Nicky Hopkins' piano, which drives the album to its conclusion.

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