A Rolling Stones album guide

Story highlights

  • Since "Goats Head Soup" was the follow-up to "Exile," everyone expected it to be more raw
  • "Some Girls" is the band's all-time bestseller; it put the Stones back on top
  • The Stones took their time with "A Bigger Bang," as if they had something to prove
There are roughly a million Rolling Stones albums, and almost all of them have songs that will drastically improve your life. (Some of them also have "Angie.") Where to start? Where to go after the classics? Here's a road map of the good, the great and the "Angie."
'Out of Our Heads' (1965)
Their great R&B album -- by now the Stones could write their own classics as well as pick them. Mick struts through the grooves with a sullen edge of seduction, his voice dripping with sex, while Keith and Brian keep hitting new twin-guitar highs.
Key Track: "Satisfaction" -- if they quit the day after they cut this, they'd still be legends.
Best Mick Moment: His toweringly soulful version of "Cry to Me."
'Let It Bleed' (1969)
The Stones luxuriate in darkness and dread, as if they always knew flower power was a scam. If you're taking just one Stones album to that moon colony, let it be this.
Key Track: "Gimme Shelter," a portrait of Sixties turmoil that Keith wrote in 20 minutes.
Best Mick Moment: His crazed whoops on "Let It Bleed," dripping bodily fluids all over Charlie Watts' drums.
Honky Tonk Man: "You Got the Silver" was Keith's first lead vocal on a Stones LP.
'Goats Head Soup' (1973)
Since this was the follow-up to "Exile," everyone expected more raw, uncut, filthy rock & roll. Instead, everyone got "Angie" and a load of hippie-mom wind-chime ambience.
Key Track: "Star Star." Is this the first song about a groupie with a sex tape?
Best Mick Moment: You know what? "Angie" is f------ awesome. Nobody else in a million years would have tried to get away with that "let me whisper in your eeeaaar" bit.
'Some Girls' (1978)
The band's all-time bestseller. It put the Stones back on top, with Mick dishing about the New York rock-star high life.
Key Track: "Shattered." Key lines: "Laughter, joy and loneliness/And sex and sex and sex and sex."
Best Keith Moment: "Before They Make Me Run," a defiant statement of the What Would Keef Do? lifestyle.
Girls, Girls, Girls: Keith was once asked why the album was called Some Girls. His reply: "Because we couldn't remember their f------ names."
'A Bigger Bang' (2005)
The Stones took their time with this one, as if they had something to prove. Their toughest album in a long time.
Key Track: "Sweet Neo Con," where Mick rips Republicans a new one.
Best Keith Moment: "Infamy." If he ever decides he wants to start doing LPs of cocktail ballads, he could give Rod Stewart a run for his money.
Fresh Ones: The guys wanted new songs to play live, even if fans didn't. "They say, 'I much prefer to hear 'Brown Sugar,' " Mick said. "Well, I don't give a s--- what you prefer."