December 2005

The Rolling Stones - Bigger Bang
Virgin Records/EMI 094633006720
Format: CD
Released: 2005

by Doug Blackburn

Musical Performance ***1/2
Recording Quality **
Overall Enjoyment ***

The biggest problem with new Rolling Stones music is that it isn’t classic Rolling Stones music. It will never be played on the radio while you're necking in the backseat. It won’t get played at the party in Peggy’s basement while you smoke weed and blow the smoke out windows seven feet off the floor. You won’t hear it over the high-school PA system that Rusty rigged.

Had this music come in decades earlier, there are tunes here that could easily resonate with listeners as well as "Backstreet Girl" or "Under My Thumb." This does not sound like the lame-ification of the Stones by the 60+-year-old men they have become. That is the miracle here. These guys can still make a rock album that doesn’t stink. If I were into prostrating myself in front of celebrities and rock stars, I’d do it for these guys. This is more than a 1960s-hippie-wish-he-was can catch and hold in strained synapses.

Don’t bother adding this to your collection for the sound quality. It is infested with lo-fi disease, first predicted by Brian Eno more than 15 years ago. Crap for sound from "new" groups (see Train, Keane, and Coldplay) is the gold standard in CD production today. But you hope the grownups won’t play in the same morass of inferior fidelity. The sound quality of these tracks ranges from "I could live with that" to "blur around every instrument and voice." The MP3 crowd will never notice.