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August 19, 2005


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I'm hopeful about the new record, and glad that you seem to deem it worthy, but I take issue with two things; Memory Motel, though no doubt the best song on Black and Blue, is not the only good song. Hand of Fate, Hey Negrita, Crazy Mamma, and let's not forget Cherro Oh Baby are all good songs. My girlfriend, new to the Stones, loved that record when I played it for her, and she went out and bought her own copy. #2) The Stones never stopped making records, it just takes ten years to get it together these days. Tony Alva will take up the cause for Bridges To Babylon I'm sure.

Tony Alva

Phenomenal post my man...

In the interest of transparency I have to preface anything I say about the Stones or Keith Richards with the fact that I love this band on par with your affection for Dylan’s work.

I haven’t heard anything off the new record, but I’m planning to be in NYC Friday night and my good friend and fellow esteemed Stonesologist Jackson and I will surely be grabbing a copy and dicing it up over some late night beers at Smoke & Mirrors studios.

Maybe not for the passive fan, but the albums you allude to as being sub par before/after Some Girls do in fact contain varying quantities of great tunes. You just have to find them. Yes, we were not used to having to dig for them after so many masterpieces in succession, but that’s why I think that some of these records get an unwarranted bad rap. Goats Head Soup: the amazing Billy Preston/Nicky Hopkins driven “Heartbreaker”, “Star Fucker”, “How Do You Hide Your Love” and the infectious “Angie” (another indulgence to be sure). It’s Only Rock & Roll: the “Ain’t to Proud To Beg” cover is mind blowing, as is “Dance Little Sister”. I know it might not be for everybody, but I also really like “If You Really Want To Be My Friend”. Even the worst contemporary Stones album (Dirty Work) has redeeming tunes, just in far diminished qty (“One Hit To The Body” is as good as anything they ever did, Keith’s “Sleep Tonight”, and the Cliff cover “Too Rude” great tracks).

I thought Voodoo Lounge was a good record as well. The hits were great, the video’s were great, and it has the best Keef song since “Silver & Gold”, the absolutely incredible “Thru and Thru”.

Emotional Rescue, Black & Blue (an unfinished album in my mind), and the previously mentioned Dirty Work bottom out my list.

Why do I like the Stones so much? I think their approach and beliefs in what Rock & Roll are all about are consistent with mine. First and foremost it has to be fun. I like thinking man’s music as much as you do and can appreciate Dylan’s introspection, social conscious, and poetic delivery, but it’s tough for me to get through the entirety of Blood On The Tracks. I want to get up and move. I want to strum air guitar, or a real one for that matter. I want to get up and make an ass out of myself and I want company. The Stones balanced intelligent lyrical content with absurdity and immaturity better than anybody else. They simply were not going to write 10 songs about the Vietnam War, but they would certainly make a couple of great allusions to it, and the next track on the record might just rock out as if to say in Forrest Gump like fashion, “…and that’s all I have to say about that” (Think “Gimme Shelter” and then “Monkey Man”).

As a kicker, their reverence for the blues masters was epic. They paid homage to their hero’s at a time when most of them were sweeping the floors of recording studios vs. recording their songs to tape. There’s a lot of naïve reverence in a lot of their masterpiece streak that shaped their sound. I think they set out to be truer to the old blues masters in the beginning, but being kids during post war rock n roll era the modern influence simply couldn’t be contained. After a while they themselves sort of discovered what they were doing was new and more comfortable letting go of traditional reverence a little. Some times it worked well, and other times on the above-mentioned efforts it didn’t.

Fun, Rockin’, smart, reverent. That’s a great combination to me and that is why they are simply the greatest rock and roll band ever. Based on your post I look forward to tearing into Friday night.

I'd love to hear you podcast a Stones session. Consider it a challenge from me and Jackson gunslinger.

PS... I like this guys website


The Stones' life and my own are basically co-terminus. They made their debut in June of 1963, I made mine in November of that year. For me, a world w/o The Stones would be an unthinkable aberation.

In the history of pop music they've done the nearly unthinkable, by maintaining a multi-decade career as a band. Solo acts last forever, but bands seem to max out after a decade or less.

The Beatles had 8 years, for example (but what an 8 years!). The Dead, of course, lasted almost forever, but stopped making new music of any real quality and consistency after about 8 as well. U2, in recent years, has managed an impressive run, largely by making what in the old days would have been 8-years worth of music stretched out over 20 years.

But I still think the Stones' recorded output is super spotty, and not just the weak 70s and 80s and 90s albums. Even the 1960s stuff. The Stones, to my ears, are a great singles band, which is why I love the London Singles box as much as any Stones record, and why some of their best records--Honky Tonk Woman, Jumpin' Jack Flash, were singles only. True they've made a couple of great albums as well (Beggars, Let it Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile, Some Girls). But every other album is less than great, and they've also piled the dreck up pretty thickly over their career.

Dylan had what he called his "period of amnesia"--basically, as he tells it in his book, from 1966-1996, during which time he made one certifiable classic album (Blood on the Tracks) and a bunch of albums that ran the gamut from flawed near misses to utter drivel. It was during that period that he said lost his muse and struggled to learn how to do consciously what he used to do unconsciously. On any one of Dylan's albums from that period you could find a decent song, sometimes even a brilliant one ("Every Grain of Sand," "Jokerman"). But nothing more. I hear the Stones' 14 year and 25 year gaps as something along the same lines. So you like "One Hit to the Body" (which I thought was bad) but I like the "Harlem Shuffle" cover. Mick Jagger, as it turns out, likes "She's So Cold" which I think is abjectly terrible (Undercover or Emotional Rescue would bring up the rear of my Stones list). Yet no matter what, it's obvious that none of the above is any "Street Fighting Man."

That's okay, very few artists in any genre sustain long careers changing and influencing art with peak creativity and impact throughout. Picasso. Miles Davis. That's about it.

I've been waiting for 20 years for the Stones to stop trying to do anything other than make their own songs that reflect their middle aged lives and their inner aesthetic, rather than making albums on which they sound like they're trying to second guess the listeners and the market--which is the way the last 20+ years of Stones albums sound to me.

The best Stones song during that stretch was solo Keith--"You Shouldn't Take It So Hard." That was the sound of a man comfortable in his own musical skin.

BTW, if you're interested, I wrote a long piece about the Stones and their 1960s output a coupla years ago when the SACD Hybrid reissues were released. It's here.

lindsey wilkinson

the rolling stones are fricken sweet man there the bomb

lindsey wilkinson

the rolling stones are fricken sweet man there the bomb

Joe Greenwood

the rolling stones are fricken sweet man there the bomb

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