Music is the soundtrack to our lives. And on Christmas Day 2012, four days after the world was supposed to end, GuysNation columnist Bryan Lienesch was given the book ‘1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die’. As he flipped through it, an idea dawned on him right then and there: he would attempt to knock all 1,001 albums off his list. Not just before he dies, but as fast as life would allow.

This is the Bucket Beats List.

Photo courtesy Time

#1 | The Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed

The beauty of the list is that it doesn’t pretend to try and decide which album is the best.  With such a wealth of great music out there, such a contest seems sort of inane.

Nevertheless, this article series needed a starting point. And, like writing itself, the beginning is often the hardest.

The most logical way to go would be to start with an album from the most iconic band of all time. But that, like the best album of all time, is a pointless debate. Most people, as a kneejerk reaction or otherwise, would probably say The Beatles. So, almost on principle, I started with the band many have seen as their friendly rivals,  The Rolling Stones.

And with the Stones’ 1969 album, Let It Bleed, the difference between the two groups couldn’t be more stark. Where The Beatles’ ‘Let It Be’, written mostly in that same year, is sweet and melodic, like just about all of their work outside of ‘Revolver’, ‘Let It Bleed’ carries with it the notorious dark parts of the decade it rounded out.

The album starts with one of the band’s most famous songs ‘Gimme Shelter’, the quintessential background music for just about every clip of the Vietnam War you’ve ever seen. It’s so well-known, in fact, that’s it’s not really worth commenting on here other than for the notion that it sets up the general mood of the album perfectly.

But that is not to say the entire weight of the album is put behind sex, drugs, and rock and roll. In fact, I found the second track on the album, ‘Love in Vain’, a slower, sadder strain, to be one of the best in a very loaded record. It’s the only song that wasn’t written by Mick and Richard, and beautifully, that is far from the biggest reason why it is so unique.

‘Country Honk’, on the other hand, isn’t all that memorable, but it does give the album, as a body of work, a much more dynamic range. With that in mind, I’ll simply call it ‘necessary’.

More on the downside, Midnight Rambler, despite being a marvelous piece of guitar work, didn’t do much for me with its in-your-face irony (the title coupled with a seven-minute track time). I love the concept behind the lyrics, a much more humanistic boogeyman, if you will, but it just doesn’t quite translate as well as I thought it could have in production.

The record rounds itself out with two whoppers of tracks, ‘Monkey Man’ and ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’. Personally, I find ‘Monkey Man’ a tad bit overrated, but ‘You Can’t Always Get What You  Want’, with its crescendo and ever-increasing tempo, climaxes in head-rocking, foot-tapping final chorus that bows out the release beautifully. Let me say this in no uncertain terms: It may just be my favorites Rolling Stones recording of them all.

Favorite Tracks?
3. Gimme Shelter
2. Love in Vain
1. You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Least Favorite Tracks?
3. Midnight Rambler
2. You Got The Silver
1. Live With Me

Do you really need to listen to this album before you die?

When Bryan isn’t writing, he is on Twitter! Make sure to give him a follow @bclienesch!