A Bigger Bang – The Rolling Stones
CD Review by Mike D'Ariano

10/2005


         



Track listing
1.
Rough Justice
2.
Let Me Down Slow
3.
It Won't Take Long
4.
Rain Fall Down
5.
Streets Of Love
6.
Back Of My Hand
7.
She Saw Me Coming
8.
Biggest Mistake
9.
  This Place Is Empty
10.
  Oh No, Not You Again
11.
  Dangerous Beauty
12.
  Laugh, I Nearly Died
13.
  Sweet Neo Con
14.
  Look What The Cat
Dragged In
15.
  Driving Too Fast
16.
  Infamy

Label: Virgin Records
Release Date:
September 6, 2005

 

   

God, I just love the way the first few seconds of "Rough Justice," the opening track of the first Rolling Stones studio album in eight years, sounds like some kind of giant machine trying to turn over and get started, only to be followed instantly by a rapid fire drum roll by Charlie Watts, and a burst of energy that is The Rolling Stones, as fresh as ever. They waste no time at all getting into a rock-blues romp with ever-clever dirty little lyrics like "Put your lips on my hips baby, and tell me what's on your mind!" And up next they go the other way with a country-tinged rocker, "Let Me Down Slow." The two songs make a great one-two opening salvo.

The tempo drops a little for the next few songs, "It Won't Take Long," "Rain Fell Down," "Streets Of Love," and "Back Of My Hand," but the eclectic nature of the album doesn't. "It Won't Take Long" is the kind of funky upbeat ballad that you'd find on the band's last few albums. "Rain Fell Down" is reminiscent of their late seventies/early eighties disco rock. "Streets of Love" which is the single off the album in Europe but not in the U.S. is a straight ahead power ballad. And "Back of My Hand" is what all Stones fans yearn for – straight up blues complete with three guitars and a harmonica.

The rest of the album fills out with more raucous raunch ("She Saw Me Coming"), punkish rock ("Oh No Not You Again"), eighties-style blues rock ("Dangerous Beauty"), political commentary ("Sweet Neo Con"), and as has been the case on every studio album the Stones have released in the past two decades, two songs sung by guitarist Keith Richards ("This Place Is Empty" and "Infamy"). The latter Keef song, which closes out the album, features a line that plays on the title "you got it in for me" and is great fun. It could be the best "Keith song" since "You Got The Silver" way back on Let It Bleed.

Another interesting line is "You look like a fucker, Sgt. Pepper" from "Look What the Cat Dragged In." I have no idea what it really means, but with rumors abound that one of the main reasons the Stones backed out of the Live 8 concerts this summer was that Jagger and Paul McCartney got into an argument over who would headline the show, I can guess the origin of the line.

The only flaw I see in the album is a dip in the creativity of the lyrics. Yeah, Jagger and Richards find clever ways to call George Bush a "crock of shit" and Paul McCartney a "fucker" but all in all, the rhyme scheme of the album is very elementary AB-AB-AB kind of stuff. The complex lyrical constructions of Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and even Some Girls, seem to be a thing of the past. When I think about it, I don't think A Bigger Bang suffers much from this as an individual album, but I do think it's what keeps it from being one of the Stones all-time best.

Sonically, however the whole album, maintains a constantly changing landscape which is, I think, one of the reasons people are comparing it to the Stones 1971 masterpiece, Exile On Main Street. Another reason for the comparison is the length of the album. A Bigger Bang clocks in at over an hour and is just three minutes shorter than Exile, which to date is the Stones' longest studio album. An argument can be made that there is some filler on A Bigger Bang – maybe 12 songs would have flowed a little better as an overall project than 16 do – but all in all, it's an excellent record, and probably the band's best effort since Tattoo You was released some 25 years ago.

Highlights: "Rough Justice," "Oh No Not You Again," "Streets of Love," "Let Me Down Slow," "Infamy"

 
       


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