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Sat, 01 Oct 2005

Rolling Stones

Rolling Stones, A Bigger Bang
LP, Virgin

A few years back Rolling Stone mag ran a cartoon which showed a bearded man in the desert in front of an ancient statue which rather resembled the Rolling Stones band. The bearded man was saying, or rather wailing, that "I've come to the oracle for twenty years and it hasn't said a thing". This pretty much summed up the band's recent output which was self-congratulatory arena fodder that was actually pretty well suited to their post Altamont audience of people who didn't quite get it. Well, not all of them of course ... but what were they doing there?

Anyway, the Stones have a pretty impeccable rock 'n' roll history. The point of the thing was, after all, questioning and rebellion. What quite a lot of feckless fans did with the message they received from all that gave great heart to those who would censor and control us in the name of ... well, you know what spurious names they use. And how ridiculous has that got? Regularly, in different countries, you can see examples of censorship ratings systems where pulling someone's spine out causes a small rap on the knuckles but where there's the slighest suggestion of something that is quite legal and most of us do ... sex ... it gets a ban or a very high rating. Is that sick or what?

Back to the Stones: Is the oracle still silent? Does anyone give a shit? Is their pension plan topped up enough yet? First of all, you'd have to say that some attempts have been made in this album to at least dust the oracle off a bit. There is some of the old grittiness and the neo-cons from the USA get a bit of a dusting as well. This will not scare the neo-cons or mobilise anyone or give anyone else a message they hadn't received yet unless they were terminally backward (and this is being written just after Hurricane Katrina). It is a demonstration, however, that the very rich can sometimes be connected to the planet. The song isn't bad at all. It's just a little bit like the dumb kid in class who's the last to get anything.

This kind of leads on to the next answer -- to the question of whether anyone gives a shit. They do, they do! The opening concert in Boston at a 30,000 seater was sold out. People like Arnold Schwarzenegger and the critic for The Times of London (A Murdoch paper) were there. Let me quote briefly from the latter ... 'And although Keith Richards played with customary swashbuckling zeal, the energy level dropped through the floor when he supplied his hopelessly slovenly lead vocals for The Worst and another new song, Infamy.' (,,14936-1746420,00.html) Well, big surprise there, the Times critic doesn't get it. Arnie might well get it, I don't know. The point is that the Rolling Stones are now an event that has mostly to do with their being there rather than saying anything. To most of their crowd, the words are irrelevant: what matters is a tight, professional show, with Sir Mick doing the requisite amount of prancing and acting. It's show biz.

So, is this album a complete waste of time? No, it's not. Is it important? No, it's not.


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