Friday, 10 August 2018

The Rolling Stones - A Bigger Bang (2005)


  

Released September 2005

Recorded in Los Angeles

Running time 64.23

While 1994's "Voodoo Lounge" and 1997's "Bridges To Babylon" were, somewhat unfairly, (particularly in the case of the former) panned by critics, this one, nearly ten years later, was given the cliche-ridden "return to form" praise. Why was this? Maybe it was the considerably stripped down, back to basics backing, no horns or saxophones, just organ and piano plus the core of The Stones. Also, the fact it included a blues track for the first time in years caused many people to go a bit over the top in their "back to their roots" panegyrics.

Just as the previous two album had been, this was, in the age of the CD, an album that was several tracks too long. Fifteen or sixteen tracks now seemed to be the average for an album, using up the full 78 minutes available. To be honest, it was too much for me and all these three albums are difficult to listen to all the way through. Twelve tracks would be much more preferable.

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                                                    

Anyway, all that said, there are still some good tracks on here, although the sound is unfortunately typical of the year it was released and the others immediately either side of it in that the album's production is overloud and clashing. The sonic bombast tends to override some of the subtleties that earlier recordings possess. As Keith would say, "on with the show" - the first six tracks are of a high standard. "Rough Justice" is a vibrant rocker with some leery Jagger vocals, "Let Me Down Slow" and "It Won't Take Long" have grinding, bluesy aspects to them, while "Rain Fall Down" is a typical Jagger, slowish, atmospheric number. It is ever so slightly disco-ish. "Streets Of Love" continues in that vein, even more appealingly, with an addictive chorus "ahh, ah ahhh.." hook. Possibly the best track on the album. Then comes the blues. "Back Of My Hand" is indeed one of The Stones' finest copper-bottomed blues  rockers for many a year, but it doesn't make the whole album. Indeed, it is pretty much on its own, compared to the rest. No need to exaggerate the importance of one track.

Then we go into a bit of a rut, with some run-of-the mill tracks that are a bit indistinguishable from each other, to be honest. "Biggest Mistake" is a yearning number, full of vocal Jaggerisms, however, and "Dangerous Beauty" has a sort of "Goats' Head Soup" appeal. "Sweet Neo-Con" is, though, an embarrassment, even though I agree with the political sentiments. It has no place here, really. "Look What The Cat Dragged In" should probably have remained on the cutting room floor, too. However, "Oh No Not You Again" rocks hard and convincingly.


Keith Richards' tracks are both, as we have come to expect - laid-back to the extent of being almost comatose, with a croaking vocal. Of the two, "Infamy" has a slightly more upbeat catchiness that "This Place Is Empty" doesn't have, although the latter is pleasant enough.

Of these three latter-day Stones albums, "Voodoo Lounge" is by far my favourite and gets played the most. I know that is a contrary view to most, but there you go.

B-


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