Friday, April 5, 2013
"Sympathy For The Devils?" : THE WEEKEND MIX
It's great to be back at the palace.
I love the Rolling Stones. They sit comfortably at #6 on my all time artists list. The one thing that all ten of my favorite artists have in common is that they are all capable of being horrible, even if the most devoted fans say otherwise. I on the other hand have no problem calling crap "crap."
I am interested in the fan who loves everything. Is he refusing to admit when things are rotten even though he knows it, or does the fan really and truly like it all, even the crap?
There are the thick-headed Stones fans...the older ones...who'll put their hands on a rock and proclaim "Sticky Fingers" the last good Stones record. (Pushovers will allow "Exile.")
Then you have the rookies who find a sense of acceptance by bowing down to "Exile On Main Street," but have never heard a note of "Aftermath."
Then, you have the diehards. These are the fans who look at Jagger preening and prancing with his red fedora, duetting with Mary J. Blige on a half-speed version of "Gimme Shelter" and half-heartedly declare, "Wow, he really sounds...good." I guess it's in the ear of the beholder.
These are the fans who get all misty-eyed knowing that these guys are still trying, fifty years later. (Good reason to get misty-eyed. I'm not made of stone.) But, do they sound good? I don't think so. I don't hear it. That makes me sad. $500 ticket prices make me sadder. But I have no problem, even for a fantasy $50 ticket, admitting the Rolling Stones aren't sounding too good. The songs are slow, the band is tired, and Jagger has become even harder to listen to than in 1981, with his talk-singing and over-enunciating.
I am in the minority. How can that be?
I'm not talking about longevity. Or legend. Or nostalgia. Or what once was. I am simply saying that right now, this band, as they are about to embark on a new tour, is one notch above a "Cocoon" reunion. And yes, that joke is about age. But no, age is not the real problem. It's what they sound like because of the age.
I find it hard to believe that anyone listening to the music from this recent tour on bootlegs or YouTube and Pay-Per-View specials is not cringing, wanting them to do well, but knowing full well, it's a shadow of what once was.
One friend said, "How can you not be excited by four original guys with a fifth guesting, fifty years later?"
Well, has anyone seen Mick Taylor play guitar for more than one song backed by the Stones lately? Dial up some of his recent Iridium performances on YouTube. It's not pretty, with all due respect to the great Mick Taylor. I have no problem not being excited by music when it doesn't sound very good.
If the Rolling Stones, Jagger specifically, stopped trying so hard to stay relevant and just focused on being true, I doubt age would ever come up. No one ever says, "B.B. King is so old, why is he touring?" It's usually, "Wow! Listen to B.B.. Do you know how old he is?" Big difference.
I think back to looking at photos of Keith from 1979, and thinking how horrible he looked. Then in 1989, we were all comparing those '79 pics to the '89 pics and thinking, "Look how good he used to look." And in 2002, we looked at the pics from 1989 and said the same thing.
Bottom line is he looks terrible. Has looked terrible since about 1979. There have been some good days. He does occasionally clean up.
That's how I hear the music.
That said, here are a dozen of my favorite Stones songs from the albums that apparently suck. It should not go unnoticed that four and a half tunes are sung by Keith and four are from "Steel Wheels," a real diamond in the doody that is the Stones' 80's output.
I'd also like to mention that anyone who dismisses "It's Only Rock & Roll," and especially "Black & Blue," just isn't listening.
Love Is Strong
Hand Of Fate
Worried About You
All About You
Can't Be Seen
Almost Hear You Sigh
Hold Onto Your Hat