The Rolling Stones

A Bigger Bang

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2LP : 180-Gram Abbey Road Half-Speed Master.

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A Bigger Bang captures the Stones simply being the Stones, playing without guest stars, not trying to have a hit, not trying to adopt the production style of the day, not doing anything but lying back and playing.

Far from sounding like a lazy affair, the album rocks really hard, tearing out of the gate with "Rough Justice," the toughest, sleaziest, and flat-out best song Jagger and Richards have come up with in years. It's not a red herring, either -- "She Saw Me Coming," "Look What the Cat Dragged In," and the terrific "Oh No Not You Again," which finds Mick spitting out lyrics with venom and zeal, are equally as hard and exciting, but the album isn't simply a collection of rockers. The band delves into straight blues with "Back of My Hand," turns toward pop with "Let Me Down Slow," rides a disco groove reminiscent of "Emotional Rescue" on "Rain Fall Down," and has a number of ballads, highlighted by "Streets of Love" and Keith's late-night barroom anthem "This Place Is Empty," that benefit greatly from the stripped-down, uncluttered production by Don Was and the Glimmer Twins. Throughout the album, the interplay of the band is at the forefront, which is one of the reasons the record is so consistent: even the songs that drift toward the generic are redeemed by the sound of the greatest rock & roll band ever playing at a latter-day peak. And, make no mistake about it, the Stones sound better as a band than they have in years: there's an ease and assurance to their performances that are a joy to hear, whether they're settling into a soulful groove or rocking harder than any group of 60-year-olds should. But A Bigger Bang doesn't succeed simply because the Stones are great musicians, it also works because this is a strong set of Jagger-Richards originals -- naturally, the songs don't rival their standards from the '60s and '70s, but the best songs here more than hold their own with the best of their post-Exile work, and there are more good songs here than on any Stones album since Some Girls.

  1. Rough Justice
  2. Let Me Down Slow
  3. It Won't Take Long
  4. Rain Fall Down
  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