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