--- Never Make A Saint Out of It!
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Posted by Babylonian Exiler on September 30, 1999 at 14:46:01:
"Guys, never age gracefully. It just wouldn't suit you."
--- Pete Towsend to the Rolling Stones on their induction into
the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (January, 1989)
It's too bad that the Stones couldn't follow the advice of Mr. Towsend. Although STEEL
WHEELS (1989) turned out to be adequate,
and VOODOO LOUNGE (1994) rocked-and-rolled more admirably than anything produced by the Stones for at least a decade, the boys just
went limp when it came (no pun intended) to BRIDGES TO BABYLON (1997). (Did you ever wonder why the image of the "Three *Graces*" was
chosen for the inside cover art? Perhaps to be in-your-face to Pete!)
Jagger and Richards combined their efforts in a completely disjointed, and
non-complimentary fashion, so that the subtitle "Wandering Offender"
(a term originally coined by a late member of Stonesworld) is justly deserved. If Mick could have lent a "vocal-hand" as it were to Keith on some of
the Richards' songs, it could have helped considerably. (Think, for instance, of the harmonious atmosphere created on "The Worst" or "Thru and Thru" on
VOODOO LOUNGE as counter-examples).
Indeed, while VOODOO LOUNGE has a thumping vivacity to it, BRIDGES TO BABYLON sounds
like canned junk-food. It might sound palatable
at first, but then its sugar-coated over-production becomes overwhelming. VOODOO LOUNGE represents the Stones as a *band*, whereas
BRIDGES TO BABYLON shows them as individuals whose efforts never syngergize the whole.
Just listen to the difference between "Saint of Me" on B2B
and compare it to the live version on NO SECURITY, and you *will* apprehend the exact short-comings of the B2B album: it's almost as
though on NO SECURITY, the Stones try to justify their newest additions to the Stones corpus. However, *no* live version could ever
truly redeem the rap-flaccid "Anyone Seen My Baby?," the in-your-face machismo of "Gunface," or the tedious droll of "How Can I Stop?"
And, really, who wants to hear "Always Suffering" after "Already Over
Me," which are more similar than "Dance, Pt. 1" and "Dance, Part
2 (If I Was [sic] a Dancer)"? Speaking of which, I dare say that the EMOTIONAL RESCUE album is significantly better than BRIDGES TO
BABYLON, despite its unanimously low repute. There's nothing on B2B like the guitar interplay on "She's So Cold," and as bad as
the song "Emotional Rescue" may be, it's miles ahead of "Anybody Seen My Baby?" Moreover, compare if you will "Down in the Hole" with "Might as Well Get Juiced," and anyone over the age of
fifteen who isn't smitten by the sounds of clashing lightsabers will prefer the former. In fact, listening to the techno-wizardy on "Juiced" conjures
images of a disembodied Obi-Wan Kenobi playing Jedi-mind tricks on Mick to "USE THE FORCE!"
Unfortunately, however, the "force" which Mick employs is not that musical
talent which may lie within his soul (and that of his "soul-brother
Keith) but those fifty-amp fuse, trendy overproduction techniques which are the nemesis of so many contemporary recording artists.
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