A Bigger Bang

The Rolling Stones

After a tumultuous eight years, the Rolling Stones have released a new album brimming over with 16 tracks. So, what can you expect from the legendary group who, despite their rough and renegade image, have extended families including grandchildren? More importantly, who wants to hear a bunch of grandfathers croak out hyperactive rockers ensnarled with masochistic, sexual innuendo? While ageless groupies ponder these and other $64,000 questions, let’s just say A Bigger Bang effortlessly gyrates and jiggles with timeless assuagement and wonder. Even as they’re approaching their golden years, the Rolling Stones are still weathered and consummate pros with something to prove.

From the get-go, this CD is chockfull of trademark tricks and licks. “Rough Justice” roars out the gate with a barking backbeat and crunching chords smothered in saucy slide work, while “Let Me Down Slow” undoubtedly has the faithful dancing in the aisles. “It Won’t Take Long” saunters along with a sumptuous furrow reminiscent of “Love Is Strong” from 1994's Voodoo Lounge, arguably one of the Stones’ better post-Exile On Main Street releases. Elsewhere, “Street Of Love” and “Biggest Mistake” score high marks for their sudden change of velocity, but sound tediously familiar, like lonely outcasts buried in the grooves of a Mick Jagger solo album. Thankfully, “Back Of My Hand,” a swampy blues number, swoops in to the rescue, conjuring up heady visions of Beggar’s Banquet.

Meanwhile, the obligatory Keith Richards vehicles angle for position. His vocal on “This Place Is Empty” is nicotine raspy, yet predictable within the context of a seemingly shallow ballad. Fortunately, he fares much better on the CD’s final track, “Infamy.” But let’s face it: the Stones truly shine when they unleash a powder keg of fury and venom. “Oh No Not You Again,” the politically-charged “Sweet Neo Con” and “Driving Too Fast” are all tight and potent barn-burners heeding the call. As a complete, no-nonsense workout, A Bigger Bang is an efficacious zinger that visibly illustrates why the Rolling Stones, no matter what their collective age, have no reason to slow down. To paraphrase, it may in fact only be rock and roll, but if they keep making them like this one, you can’t help but like it.

~ Shawn Perry

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