Once upon a time, a bunch of old geezers got back together after years of tough love and too many drugs, to create a bunch of nostalgia music on an embarrassingly excessive salary. Their names? Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood and Charlie Watts. Their band? The Rolling Stones. Their result? An album that kicks ass, surprisingly.
The first track, “Rough Justice,” starts off with a riff stolen straight from Chuck Berry, driven by a drummer who inspired legions of AC/DC look-alikes. A goose-lipped Jagger yelps into the mic, asking a woman, “Am I just one of your cocks?” This is the point when the listener leaves the real world – the world of working-wage stiffs and prudish conceits – into the debauchery-driven haven of the Stones. We’ve always loved this about them, and they never fail to deliver a dose of punk-esque rebellion. “Sweet Neo Con” takes a stab at George W. Bush, complete with harmonica and vocal harmonies. Jagger states, “You say you are a patriot / I think that you’re a crock of shit,” while his former fans, now the heads of tax-exempt corporations, turn their heads in dismay.
But the Stones were never a political band. The rest of the album deals more traditional cards, as “Look What the Cat Dragged In” and “It Won’t Take Long” recall the blues stomps of Sticky Fingers. “Rain Fall Down” is a modernized number, carrying on with the whiz-bang production techniques of Bridges to Babylon. Richards’ guitar accompaniment is especially prominent here, his understated bad-boy chops backed by a jazzy organ player. Jagger tells a torrid tale of rain-drenched love – or the closest thing to love he’s had, at least. When he describes “vomit on the ground” in a “cold gray town,” we know he ain’t a poet, but in this business, Jagger’s at the top of his game.
I won’t lie to you, my dear readers. Not all the songs are gravy. The first single, “Streets of Love” is especially grating to the ears, a whining ballad that makes us want to machine-gun Mick and Keith in the face. But it’s only rock and roll, and if you’re reading this, you must like it. Not to mention that, since you started this review, the Stones have sold out another stadium. And to that we say, “Thumbs up” to the men who built an industry out of undereducated musicians.
[Awww, Matt Cappiello, we say, “Thumbs up” to you too.]