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Topic: My review of "A Bigger Bang" Return to archive Page: 1 2 3 4
August 18th, 2005 07:13 PM
Gazza OK…now I’ve listened to this album almost non stop for the last week (albeit in mostly lo-fi form, although I received a tape in the post yesterday which was better quality), I thought I’d finally get around to giving it some kind of review for those of you who haven’t had a chance to hear it yet and who have asked me what it’s like. The only song I havent heard in full as yet is “Dangerous beauty” as it wasn’t on the tape I was sent – I heard the 30 second sample on Amazon and thought it sounded excellent with block chords from hell that (if the rest of the song is as good) is enough to replace “Start me up” in the canon of great Rolling Stones riffs.

Musically, as you have read, its very minimalist. No horns, no extra backing singers, barely any keyboards that are audible and on 3 of the tracks its just Mick, Keith and Charlie. To get away with an album like that, you really need to have some bloody good tunes and happy to say this album has them by the shitload. Whether its choc-full of potential singles is another matter. If it was 1981, I’d say yes – but music radio and the singles charts are light years away now from that era. What really strikes me however is that every single one of these songs will work very well in live performance. Not since “Some Girls” has that been the case, and hopefully they’ll have the balls to treat us to as many of these in concert as possible.

At 16 songs, there was a fear by some that it would be too long (as Voodoo Lounge was) with several filler songs. However, while thats true to a degree, its more consistent than VL was. The songs that are on the weaker end of the ratings are still decent enough and certainly worthy of release. Put it this way, theyre better than the four new songs on "40 Licks".

So, with the exception of “Dangerous Beauty”, here’s my thoughts on it, song-by-song. Of course, opinions are like assholes in that we all have one - and you may think that this one stinks compared to yours!

(Ratings-wise, 10/10 is comparable to Gimme Shelter or Jumpin Jack Flash, 9 is outstanding, 8 is very good, 7 is good, 6 is OK, 5 is mediocre, 4 is crap and anything less is Bon Jovi)

Rough Justice – Y’all know it by now. a cracking and rousing opener, with all of the band firing on all cylinders, especially Charlie. 8/10.

Let Me Down Slow – Quite a few (well more than half) of the songs on this album are about fractured relationships and in many cases, they’re written from a perspective of vulnerability, which is unusual for the Stones. This is one of them – a medium paced country-tinged rocker with some nice slide guitar licks towards the end (presumably by Ronnie). 8/10.

It Wont Take Long – An archetypal signature riff opens what is a stunning driving rocker. Mick sings an excellent kiss-off to an old flame “life is short, one look and its over/comes as quite a shock/All I got is some memories/stuck in an old shoe-box”. What makes the song so special is some delicious lead guitar work. A very danceable track which is really growing on me. 8/10 (will probably be 9/10 by the time the album comes out)

Rain Fell Down – A jagged funky riff which reminds me a bit of “Everything is turning to gold” or “Dance” in some ways. The verses are a kind of rap as Mick relates a tale of a steamy night of passion, followed by a chorus of “and the rain fell down/on the cold hard ground/and the phone kept ringin’/as we made sweet love”. Some gorgeous harmonies on the bridge part of the song, too. 7/10

Streets of Love – An astonishing choice as first single to be honest. Taken in the context of an album track instead of the lead single in the first Stones album in 8 years, it works better. Similar in some ways to “Out of tears” but not as good. At just under five minutes, it’s the longest track on the album. The album version contains a few lines more in the middle just before the solo and a longer fade out than the edited version we’ve heard up to now. The repitition of the word ‘awful’ is …well, awful – but the closing minute redeeems matters slightly. 6/10

Back Of My Hand - a lot more like it. You all know it by now, so not much point dwelling on it. A gorgeous minimalist blues, with Mick stealing the honours with some nifty slide guitar and harp. 8/10.

She Saw Me Coming – an infectious and fun noisy thrash that will no doubt work great as a stadium singalong as the title is repeated over 20 times in the course of three minutes. Lyrically something of a flip side to ‘Under My Thumb’ as this time its Mick who’s been used and spat out by a too-sharp female. 8/10.

Biggest Mistake – this is the real sleeping beauty on the album. Mick has rarely written in such a reflective and self-analytical manner about his shortcomings and how he’s treated the woman in his life.. “I never go out/I’m becoming a grouch/I just watch the TV/and I drink on the couch”. As good a love song as Mick has written in 25 years….you could end up being convinced by him and actually feeling sorry for the randy old bastard. Lyrically, an absolute cracker and melodically absolutely beautiful. 9/10.

This Place is Empty – another cry in your beer song, and this time it’s Keith’s turn. One of the few tracks on the album where the piano is prominent. Pleasant country-style ballad, with some nice harmonies from Mick (singing back up on one of Keith’s songs for the first time in ages). 7/10.

Oh No, Not You Again – familiar from the press conference, but better in the studio. Lively rocker with a good riff and chorus, but let down by utterly banal and juvenile lyrics in the verses (that ‘yellow/jello’couplet is up there with ‘sharks will cry’ as one of the worst lines ever in the Stones’ history). Good tune, but one point off for the lyrics. 7/10.

Laugh, I Nearly Died – Sweet Baby Jesus!! I didn’t think they had one like this left in them. Mick pulls out all the stops on this absolute peach of a song with a fabulous self-reflective, world-weary, seen-it-all lyric and by the time it’s done and dusted almost five minutes later, has rung himself out emotionally. The hook of “been travellin’ far and wide/wonderin’ who’s gonna be my guide” is utterly hypnotic and ends the song in almost a capella fashion with only Charlie’s bass drum keeping the vocals company. With the exception of “Continental Drift”, the best song the Stones have done in almost a quarter of a century. 9/10.

Sweet Neo-Con - the one that all the fuss is about. Doesn’t work for me, unfortunately. Musically its fine (Mick blows some pretty impressive harp throughout over a pretty minimalist backing), but the problem is the lyrics. Throwaway lyrics are fine in a light hearted song but when writing something topical and heavy, sounding like you’re using a rhyming dictionary in order to match up a few insults just sounds trite and unconvincing. The subject matter deserves better. 6/10.

Look What The Cat Dragged In – Think “Undercover of The Night” meets INXS and you’re not far off the mark musically. Tasty fret - work throughout which should keep the guitar freaks happy and Mick’s in fine form lyrically (is it just my ears or is there a mention of “Sgt Pepper” in there?) but as a song there’s something missing for me. 6/10

Driving Too Fast - Gutsy rocker which ‘motors’ along nicely , with a metaphorical lyric comparing life’s turns to an eventful car journey. Bloody good. 8/10.

Infamy - Keith gets to close the album again. The title is a pun on “In For Me” of course. Keith has obviously been watching Kenneth Williams in “Carry on Cleo” when he came up with this title. Some nice harp from Mick again on a decent, but not outstanding track. 6/10.


Best Stones album since ? – Hard to say. Before hearing this album, I really had mixed emotions as to how I would appreciate it. One one hand, as a Stones fanatic, I’m obviously going to be excited by the first record in eight years and there might be a tendency to over-rate it. On the other hand, the wait has been so long that I could end up being disappointed as its natural for some to think that if they have eight years worth of songs, one could expect another Let it Bleed or Exile. I tried to judge it on it’s own merits after repeated listening and I think I’ve been realistic in assessing it. It’s not 1972 anymore, so to expect anything like what the band were capable of back then is pointless.

The last album the Stones released that I think most of us could agree was a gem was Tattoo You, a record that they somehow pulled out of the fire against all logic by assembling a collection of leftovers. Personally, I thought Bridges to Babylon was up there too, but it’s a record that seems to divide people. If I’m going to have to stick my neck above the parapet and rate it compared to previous records, I’ll commit myself by saying that this is as good an album as I think the Stones could have been expected to do at this stage in their career and is probably the best that they’ve done since “Tattoo You”. I thought that they could deliver a good album, but they’ve surpassed my expectations and given us a terrific one. Obviously the conditions that generated the way Mick and Keith wrote these songs together has somehow paid off handsomely and left me wanting another one like it.

However, if this is the last studio album the Rolling Stones ever make, they really will have gone out with a big bang.

[Edited by Gazza]
August 18th, 2005 07:20 PM
sirmoonie Hey, great read, Gazza.

I'm looking forward to getting a hold of this thing and letting sink in.
August 18th, 2005 07:22 PM
pdog Gazza, I love you!
August 18th, 2005 07:43 PM
tumbling dice
Perfect review, hermano Gazza! but the lyrics doesn´t matter in Oh, no not you again ROCK´AND´ROLL IS SIMPLE !
August 18th, 2005 07:43 PM
exile Thanks Gazza, enjoyed your review.

Cant wait to hear "Laugh I nearly died" properly
August 18th, 2005 07:49 PM
Soldatti Thanks Gazza!
Do you know the album length?
I heard 66 minutes.
August 18th, 2005 07:49 PM
time is on my side Thanks for the review, really looking forward to listening to this one myself. September 6th seems a long way off.

Questions, questions, questions- is this album one where the listening experience is greater by taking in the entire album, where the whole (the sum) is greater than it's individual parts??? Is it a tight album where the songs or musical parts flow together?? Finally, how does it compare to Tattoo You or Some Girls???? Voodoo was saying it might be better than both (I know everyone has individual taste and opinions- each one being valid- but how would you rate it- is it better than Tattoo You, Some Girls????????).

[Edited by time is on my side]
August 18th, 2005 07:50 PM
tumbling dice wrote:
Perfect review, hermano Gazza! but the lyrics doesn´t matter in Oh, no not you again ROCK´AND´ROLL IS SIMPLE !

There's a difference between simple and trivial though. I think RnR should be simple steady powerful music, but that doesn't go for the lyrics per se IMO.
August 18th, 2005 07:51 PM
glencar I can't wait to hear this one myself. I'm listening to 4 of the songs right now & RJ is best followed by It Won't Take Long then SOL & then some Keith ballad.
August 18th, 2005 07:55 PM
scratched Cheers Gazza, your word is as good as anyone's so this is exciting news!
August 18th, 2005 08:05 PM
Gazza >Questions, questions, questions- is this album one where you the listening experiece is greater by taking in the entire album in which the whole albmum is greater than it's individual parts???


>Is it a tight album where the songs or musical parts flow together??

yes. It flows beautifully. The songs just sound like they all belong on the same record, and theres a common theme regarding relationships on many of the songs

> Finally, how does it compare to Tattoo You or Some Girls???? Voodoo was saying it might be better than both (I know everyone has individual taste and opinions- each one being valid- but how would you rate it- is it better than Tattoo You, Some Girls????????).

Some Girls is up there with Exile for me as the greatest thing the Stones have ever done, so I couldnt compare it to that. Tattoo You shouldnt have worked as an album when you think about the way it was cobbled together but Kimsey, Clearmountain and the Stones did a remarkable job on it to make it what it is and its also aged very well. Whether this one is as good is debatable. It probably is a little too long and has 3-4 merely "OK" songs to be as good as Tattoo You, which is a remarkably consistent record. I'd rate it just below TY, but who knows - in a year or 5 years time, I might feel different.

Stones albums often take a while to grow on me, probably because for 30 years or so I've been too emotionally attached to the band's music to get a proper perspective on the first few listens, but I liked this one right away. Plus, I waited until I listened to it for a week to properly review it to make sure I wasnt making some kind of snap judgement on it. About 30-40 listens later and i still love it.
August 18th, 2005 08:09 PM
Soldatti wrote:
Thanks Gazza!
Do you know the album length?
I heard 66 minutes.

well, theres one track I havent heard yet but the 15 songs I have clock in at close to 59 minutes, so I'd guess its around 63 minutes
August 18th, 2005 08:18 PM
Some Guy I smell a Grammy.
August 18th, 2005 08:22 PM
LadyJane WOW!!!!!!!

Thanks Gazza!!!


August 18th, 2005 08:30 PM
Some Guy wrote:
I smell a Grammy.

That ain't what I'm smelling!
August 18th, 2005 08:55 PM
time is on my side
glencar wrote:

That ain't what I'm smelling!

I'm smelling A GREAT ALBUM!!!!
August 18th, 2005 08:58 PM
Bruno Stone Gazza I love you too!
August 18th, 2005 09:04 PM
Some Guy Biggest Mistake – this is the real sleeping beauty on the album.

I heard the 30 second Voodoo version and then the other 30 second version and really liked that one! I am all nipply about this one!
August 18th, 2005 09:06 PM
time is on my side wrote:

I'm smelling A GREAT ALBUM!!!!

As am I! Grammy & great are almost mutually exclusive.
August 18th, 2005 09:20 PM
Soldatti Thanks Gazza.
August 18th, 2005 09:24 PM
Gazza - you da man.

way to go boys.

August 18th, 2005 09:44 PM
VoodooChileInWOnderl About "Dangerous Beauty" since you didn't review it I want to add that it has a killer bass during the whole song but specially during the great guitar solos, probably the best instrumental part of the album. It rocks--- When I listened the album the first day at Virgin I rated it with 5 stars because of the instrumental portions.

August 18th, 2005 09:50 PM
Some Guy wrote:
I smell a Grammy.

I smell a good
August 18th, 2005 11:32 PM
IanBillen What did I tell you Gazza.
I knew they could do it if they really put themselves to it like they used to and that is what happend. I got EXTREMELY TIRED of waiting on it but I knew if they put it together they could.

What if someone told you six months ago you would be writing an article of your own personal review of this next Stones album and you would say it was better than good is "terrific" and is the best album they have made in 24 years since Tattoo You actually.

Don't ever under-estimate the power of The Rolling Stones my good man.

And just think.....this album will only get better to you!

Cheers buddy


[Edited by IanBillen]
August 19th, 2005 12:28 AM
Nasty Habits Good review, Gazza. I've heard the bulk of the album, too, and at the moment I think your individual song assessments are generally spot on the mark.

I think I like Infamy and Neocon a bit better than you. The groove to Infamy is a thousand miles wide and the harmonica is just funky. I hope that Jagger deigns to perform in Keith's set when they do this song - I can't imagine it without Mick's great harp. It's nice to have a new Stones album that ends on such an up musical vibe.

Neocon is respectably brash, if not brilliant. And it's mean. Which is what it wants to be. No one in their right mind would ever mistake it for a lecture. The song has got a really taunting edge to the vocal and performance that does bite. When the band crashes in after Mick says "I'll eat my hat tonight" I actually do become convinced that he means it.

Driving Too Fast rocks my ass into the dirt, and I love the back up vocals on Laugh, I Nearly Died, too - they remind me of Dr. John's Night Tripper records.

So far, so good. As an album overall, I would agree with you - this is the album they were going for, but botched, when they made Voodoo Lounge - it is so much looser and livelier than that record was. It's definitely not in the same league as Some Girls, but I think it can stand proudly with anything they've released since.

Bring on the vinyl and then I'll really know what I think.
[Edited by Nasty Habits]
August 19th, 2005 12:39 AM
Nasty Habits wrote:

Bring on the vinyl and then I'll really know what I think.

I can't wait to get the vinyl! I really like what i've heard so far, and Gazza's review was great.

Any word on the Red vinyl 7 inch?

August 19th, 2005 12:51 AM
beer Also, how will the tracklist break down on the record? It's a double album, right? I cant imagine the 2nd record opening with "This place is empty".

1 Rough Justice
2 Let Me Down Slow
3 It Won’t Take Long
4 Rain Fall Down
Side 2?
5 Streets Of Love
6 Back Of My Hand
7 She Saw Me Coming
8 Biggest Mistake
9 This Place Is Empty
10 Oh No, Not You Again
11 Dangerous Beauty
12 Laugh, I Nearly Died
13 Sweet Neo Con
14 Look What The Cat Dragged In
15 Driving Too Fast
16 Infamy

August 19th, 2005 12:57 AM
HardKnoxDurtySox [quote]Gazza wrote:

...Back Of My Hand - a lot more like it. You all know it by now, so not much point dwelling on it. A gorgeous minimalist blues, with Mick stealing the honours with some nifty slide guitar and harp. 8/10.

[Edited by Gazza]

very interesting that mick play slide on this one. or maybe i should say that it's interesting that he's "allowed" to play slide on this one.
August 19th, 2005 02:30 AM
Jumacfly thank you's so far the best review I ve read about BB!
Now I m really looking forward this fucking september 5th and have decided to tape all my posts with my left ball...
August 19th, 2005 02:33 AM
keithriffhard yeah! Biggest Mistake is an awesome song it sounds really cool, like Waiting on a friend almost. It's great. It won't take long is brutal. Awesome
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