Rolling Stones Start 50th Birthday Bash With New Songs

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The cover of "Grrr!," the new album by the Rolling Stones. The collection includes the U.K. band's greatest hits over 50 years and two new songs, available as a 3-CD set or a box set with 80 tracks and 1960s demos.

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Source: Universal via Bloomberg

The cover of "Grrr!," the new album by the Rolling Stones. The collection includes the U.K. band's greatest hits over 50 years and two new songs, available as a 3-CD set or a box set with 80 tracks and 1960s demos. Close

The cover of "Grrr!," the new album by the Rolling Stones. The collection includes the U.K. band's greatest hits over... Read More

Photographer: Tim Whitby/Getty Images via Bloomberg

The Rolling Stones perform on Dec. 8 at the Barclays Center. They are on their 50th anniversary tour. Close

The Rolling Stones perform on Dec. 8 at the Barclays Center. They are on their 50th anniversary tour.

Source: Thames & Hudson via Bloomberg

The cover of "The Rolling Stones 50" by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood. The book is out in the U.K. now and is published in the U.S. in October. Close

The cover of "The Rolling Stones 50" by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood. The book is out... Read More

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The Rolling Stones band members, Charlie Watts (drums), Keith Richards (guitar), Bill Wyman (bass), Mick Jagger (vocals) and Ronnie Wood (guitar) pose for a poster for their European tour that ran from April to June 1976. "The Rolling Stones 50" by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood is published by Thames & Hudson. Close

The Rolling Stones band members, Charlie Watts (drums), Keith Richards (guitar), Bill Wyman (bass), Mick Jagger... Read More

Source: Irish Photo Archives via Bloomberg

Charlie Watts, right, signs an autograph for a fan. The band's Irish tour of 1965 is the subject of the movie "Charlie Is My Darling." Close

Charlie Watts, right, signs an autograph for a fan. The band's Irish tour of 1965 is the subject of the movie "Charlie Is My Darling."

Source: Irish Photo Archives via Bloomberg

Brian Jones, guitarist of the Rolling Stones, left, and Mick Jagger, lead vocalist of the Rolling Stones, perform at the Adelphi Theatre in Dublin. The band's Irish weekend tour in 1965 is captured in a new movie. Close

Brian Jones, guitarist of the Rolling Stones, left, and Mick Jagger, lead vocalist of the Rolling Stones, perform at... Read More

Source: Thames & Hudson/ copyright Mirrorpix via Bloomberg

Members of the U.K. rock group the Rolling Stones in the 1960s. "The Rolling Stones 50" by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood is published by Thames & Hudson. The photo shows (from left) Watts, Jagger, Richards, Bill Wyman and Brian Jones. Close

Members of the U.K. rock group the Rolling Stones in the 1960s. "The Rolling Stones 50" by Mick Jagger, Keith... Read More

The Rolling Stones attend the premiere of "Crossfire Hurricane" during the 56th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon Leicester Square on Oct. 18, 2012. From left, Charlie Watts (drums), Ronnie Wood (guitar/bass), Keith Richards (guitar), Mick Jagger (vocals). Photo by Invision/ London Film Festival via Bloomberg. Close

The Rolling Stones attend the premiere of "Crossfire Hurricane" during the 56th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon... Read More

The Rolling Stones’ new CD is aptly titled “Grrr!”

That applies both to its content (only two unheard tracks in a $145 box) and the online prices of their sellout shows. Tickets are changing hands for $2,000.

Mick Jagger is still repeatedly complaining of getting no satisfaction even after 50 years. That hasn’t stopped him spotting a golden opportunity to start up his money machine.

The portentous “Doom and Gloom” and “One More Shot” are the first new songs in seven years, recorded in Paris. Both are quintessential Stones. Swaggering lyrics, solid riffs and beats go in a blender for yet another variant of the rock cocktail.

The 89-track, 6-disc version of “Grrr!” also includes 12 early demos from the 1960s, though most people will be coming to this collection to catch up on why the Stones have endured.

Even in its shorter three-CD, 50-track form, “Grrr!” is a chronologically sequenced hits set that’s more comprehensive than many predecessors such as “Rolled Gold” or “40 Licks.”

While some songs are needlessly edited, the rabble-rousing numbers still jump out of the speakers: “Get Off of My Cloud,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “Brown Sugar.” It sounds best when they turn down the volume a notch and get a little folky or bluesy -- “Little Red Rooster,” “As Tears Go By” or “Wild Horses.”

So far the tour to support the album consists of a handful of dates in London and Newark, New Jersey. While another concert has just been added for New York, “this may be the last time,” as the words of one song go.

Pushing in the 70s

Of the groups marking their half-century, the Beatles of course can’t reform, but Mick’s men, like the Beach Boys, are pushing into their 70s. The Stones can pretty much charge what they like -- and they do.

Some VIP tickets had a face value of more than $1,000 even before touts got their hands on them. The most optimistic price on eBay, for seats right by the stage, is $15,000: It remains to be seen if anyone pays as much as this.

I expect the audience will be made up of the long-term faithful, wealthy devotees and corporate-hospitality clients.

If you can’t make it to the shows, it’s worth catching up with “Crossfire Hurricane,” premiered at the London Film Festival and showing on U.S. TV. Drawing on similar video material to Martin Scorsese’s “Shine a Light” and Julien Temple’s “Stones at the Max,” this has Keith Richards trying to remember the deadly 1969 Altamont festival and Jagger recalling how the death of band founder Brian Jones still hurts.

Stone Memories

More memories are captured in “Charlie Is My Darling,” a grainy documentary of a 1965 weekend tour of Ireland, and the lavish photo book “Rolling Stones 50.” That follows a raft of bios offering contrasting views of Jagger -- tabloid-journalism style by Christopher Andersen and a sober account from Philip Norman.

I’ve seen the Stones many times, so I look forward to reporting back on the first London show and determining whether they can still cut it. If you believe the reports, they still sound tight. Perhaps best to avert the eyes from Sir Mick’s leggings and “Keef’s” crazy hairdos. Sympathy for the Zimmer frame? We’ll see.

The “Strolling Bones” bandwagon is still rolling, gathering no moss, just a lot of money. People will be in ecstasy with the final encores as Jumpin’ Jack Flash does it again.

The Rolling Stones play the O2 London on Nov. 25 and 29, Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, New York, on Dec. 8 and the Prudential Center Newark on Dec. 13 and 15.

Information: http://www.rollingstones.com/

(Mark Beech writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

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To contact the writer on the story: Mark Beech in London at mbeech@bloomberg.net or http://twitter.com/home/Mark_Beech.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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