Let It Bleed is the eighth British and tenth American studio album by English rock band the Rolling Stones, released in December 1969 by Decca Records in the United Kingdom and London Records in the United States. Released shortly after the band's 1969 American Tour, it is the follow-up to 1968's Beggars Banquet. As with Beggars Banquet, the album marks a return to the group's more blues-sound approach that was prominent in the pre-Aftermath period of their career. Additional sounds on the album draw influence from gospel, country blues and country rock.
The album was recorded during a period of turmoil in the band; Brian Jones, the band's founder and original leader, had become increasingly unreliable in the studio due to heavy drug use, and during most recording sessions was either absent, or so incapacitated that he was unable to contribute meaningfully. He was fired in the midst of recording sessions for this album, and replaced by Mick Taylor. Jones appeared on this album on only two songs, playing backing instruments, and died within a month of being fired.
Taylor had been hired after principal recording was complete on many of the tracks, and appears on two songs, having recorded some guitar overdubs. Keith Richards was the band's sole guitarist during most of the recording sessions, being responsible for nearly all of the rhythm and lead parts. The other Stones members (Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts) appear on nearly every track, with contributions by percussionist Jimmy Miller (who also produced the album), keyboardists Nicky Hopkins and Ian Stewart, and guest musicians including Ry Cooder.
The album charted top ten in several markets, including reaching number one in the UK and number three in the US. While no high-charting singles were released from the album, many of the album's songs became staples of Rolling Stones live shows and on rock radio stations for decades to come, including "Gimme Shelter" and "You Can't Always Get What You Want", both of them listed on "best ever" songs lists, including 2004's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" by Rolling Stone magazine. The album was voted number 40 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums 3rd edition (2000). In 2005, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and is on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.
Because the Stones' first Big Hits compilation had been released in separate formats, with the Aftermath-era material appearing only on its UK edition, the American edition of Big Hits Vol. 2 included hit singles from the Aftermath period.
The British track listing included the more obscure "You Better Move On", from The Rolling Stones' self-titled 1964 debut EP and "Sittin' on a Fence", an Aftermath outtake originally released in 1967 on the US compiled Flowers album. In addition to those songs, many tracks, notably single-only releases, were collected for the first time on a UK Rolling Stones album: "Let's Spend the Night Together", "Ruby Tuesday", "We Love You", "Dandelion", and "Honky Tonk Women".
The name of the album is a play on a line from the KJV translation of 1 Corinthians 13: "For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face..."
The LP was packaged in an eight-sided die-cut gatefold sleeve, featuring an epitaph for Jones: "When this you see, remember me and bear me in your mind. Let all the world say what they may, speak of me as you find.