The Rolling Stones

Record review

Phases & Stages

The Rolling Stones

A Bigger Bang (Virgin)

"Life is short – one look and it's over. Comes as quite a shock. All I got is some memories stuck in an old shoe box." Memories like Exile on Main Street's "All Down the Line," which lends newest opener "Rough Justice" A Bigger Bang. At 65 rocky minutes, the Stones' first studio album since 1997's Bridges to Babylon, and rootsiest since '94's Voodoo Lounge, could've been whambangthankyoumam at 40. Sadly, Stonesian justice today means that when Jagger places one of his tuneless Alfie-type ballads ("Streets of Love"), Keith reciprocates with one of his hoary old blues plodders ("Back of My Hand"). Richards continues George Jonesing to whiskey-pickled perfection ("This Place Is Empty"), his overall riffage banging gloriously off Ronnie Wood's as if both were ornery jazzmen. Bigger's midsection is nowhere as lean as Jagger's, but there's good circulation at the extremities, like the quoted "It Won't Take Long" at the top, and Bush basher "Sweet Neo Con," red hot Brian Setzeresque INXS knock-off "Look What the Cat Dragged In," and Richards' closer "Infamy," sounding like it was left off one of the guitarist's finely aged solo albums, at the opposite end. Life's too short for another compromised Stones LP, but it's hardly a shock. (The Rolling Stones play the American Airline Center in Dallas Tuesday, Nov. 29; the Toyota Center in Houston Thursday, Dec. 1; and the SBC Center in San Antonio Tuesday, March 7, 2006.)

**

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