Album Reviews

The Rolling Stones – A Bigger Bang

(Virgin) UK release date: 5 September 2005

Rolling Stones - A Bigger Bang According to the latest findings, not only is the universe still growing, but the rate of expansion is constantly accelerating. Which means, not only are kids much larger than they used to be, but so are you, I, and less tangible things like egos, world tours, sponsorship deals, and offshore investment portfolios. And this is when the latest twist in Big Bang theory brings us to the new Rolling Stones album.

Which is pretty unfortunate, as I don’t have one in my possession at this time of writing. However, I do have another CD which, funnily enough does sound a bit like the only Stones in Britain that rival Stonehenge for World Heritage status. So, now that you’ve allowed me to sort of introduce it, I’d like to tell you about that for a bit instead.

This one is called A Bigger Bang, just like the new Rolling Stones release, but is longer than any Strolling Bones album since the glamorous, four-colour doorstop that was Exile On Main Street. What sets it apart however, give or take two or three tracks, is that this is a record of honesty, humility, and even (cripes!) the odd bit of inspiration. Honest guv. Mick and the boys should take a listen.

For instance they’d hear a bunch of sex-starved adolescents let loose in Playboy Mansion knock out hip-thrusting mediations on the smell of female like Jet-like opener Rough Justice (I was your little rooster / now I’m just one of your cocks). But maybe Mick, the man who put the sex into sexagenarian, has just enough of this sort of thing as it is.

Though the compilers have seen fit to further the imitation to include a few three-cord dozers like Oh No Not You Again and Dangerous Beauty (just like virtually all of Its Only Rock ‘n’ Roll in fact) its still as plausible an impersonation of a decent Stones album as you’re likely to find since the ballad side of Tattoo You.

To complete the masquerade, there’s even a laughable broadside at George Bush and his cabal in Sweet NeoCon, just like Undercover Of The Night without the great multi-mixed groove, and Highwire without…well, actually with all the naff things that that supposed anti-Gulf War record had. And this is one such giveaway of course, for not even OldCon Sir Michael Philip Jagger (“In my heart I’m labour, in my wallet I’m Conservative”) would have the chutzpah to attempt such ringing insincerity.

But all that aside there is plenty of other counterfeit stones material. Since Mick’s celeb status outranked his membership of the rock star elite, rarely (mostly on 1978’s Some Girls) has there been such evidence that a fully functional living breathing human being exists behind the snake-hips and pre-collagen lips. Yet, dear surfer, check these: “The awful truth / its really sad / I must admit I was really bad” (from Streets Of Love), “I acted impatient, acted unkind / I took her for granted / I played with her mind” (Biggest Mistake) and even “Now I’m on the slide / Feeling so despised” (Laugh I Nearly Died). All delivered with suitable ruefulness. Like the Stones used to, on those old, old records.

And though this pretend record doesn’t dare to place itself in the same hallowed halls as that Jimmy Miller-produced quartet of records between 1968 and 1972, it jostles justly and fairly with the best since. Best of all is the guy who does a great take-off of Jagger’s much underrated falsetto on Streets Of Love. It may not be Moonlight Mile, but then what is?

It should be noted that there is a Keef doppelganger here also (it is the anniversary of Jack Daniels after all). Though the grizzled rifferama may be raunch-by-numbers at times, it’s none more so than on any Steve Earle or Lucinda Williams record currently gaining plaudits. Even more surprising is the Honest Ron stand-in. Rather than bothering with his so-so Stones output, this mimic concentrates instead on his fabbo slide contributions to Rod The Mod’s first few Mercury albums. As for the Charlie-a-like…well, Charlie’s always good, innee?

Dunno what the new Stones records gonna be like, but let’s face it, it’s not going to be as superior as this, is it?

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