The Rolling Stones – Top 5 Modern-Era Tracks

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The Stones have only released four albums since becoming an enormous multi-million dollar money-spinning stadium-filling travelling rock’n roll museum. What these indestructible rock ‘n rollers have released, however, has teetered on the edge of back to basics rock, and a voyage of discovery of rock ‘n roll relevance.

What has always made the Stones so great was Keith’s bluesy traditionalism being nicely balanced by Jagger’s pop-chart-driven opportunism, and vice versa, and this latter-day Stones stuff is no exception. It has in fact received positive critical reception in most cases, and time has afforded these albums an unassuming grandeur.

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The recorded output, while far from prolific, is strong Stones product, filled with economical riff-trading, serviceable mid-tempo balladry and rock-tastic standoffs. While the band are not as creatively stagnant as Bill Wyman labelled them upon his departure in 1992, or as artistically irrelevant as the public consciousness would lead you to believe, it’s not all Sticky Fingers and Let it Bleed quality.

There’s harmony but inevitable lapses of judgement and pedestrian misfires side-by-side strong content on hard rocking Voodoo Lounge (1994), the uneven technology-driven extravaganza Bridges to Babylon (1997), lengthy late-career classic A Bigger Bang (2005), and the scintillating post-war Chicago blues covers surprise LP Blue & Lonesome (2016). Over the decades there’s also been countless greatest hits packages and best of’s that feature inevitable new fare like the underwhelming Doom & Gloom.

They don’t make rock stars like the Stones anymore, they are a permanent institution in the annals of rock history, and always will be, whether it be in the studio or on stage running rings around performers young enough to be their grandchildren. So with the imminent release of the Goats Head Soup (1973) expanded edition, and continuing talk of a new album of originals, now is as good a time as any for a deep-dive into five true classics from the Stones’ modern era.

5. Sweethearts Together

This great mid-album track off the Don Was-produced Voodoo Lounge finds Mick and Keith in sync, harmonising Everly Brothers-style, eyeball-to-eyeball with an acoustic guitar each, symbolising the (tongue-in-cheek?) reconciliation of childhood friends the Glimmer Twins. Ron Wood adds some beautiful lap steel touches, and the track has a Tex-Mex vibe thanks to first-take overdubs from Portuguese musicians Luis Jardin (percussion) and Flaco Jiminez (accordion). Top-drawer veteran singer Ivan Neville and Bernard Fowler also feature on backing vocals.

4. Back of My Hand

A Muddy Waters-style blues number, A Bigger Bang’s Back of My Hand, surprisingly features Jagger on a supple slide guitar for the first time ever on a Stones record. A hidden skill! He also plays bass and maracas, leaving only Keith to lay down a subtle rhythm part on top of Charlie’s simple bass drum. And that’s that. Back of My Hand is down-and-dirty and authentic, and would’ve slotted in nicely on Beggars Banquet.

3. Everybody Knows About My Good Thing

Jagger had been performing this song for a few decades and actually appears as a B-side to one of his 90’s solo singles. Resurrected for the Stones labour-of-love covers album Blue & Lonesome, it’s a standout track on a strong LP, vividly capturing the band live in the studio loyally rendering the music of their heroes. Eric Clapton, who was recording next door, guests on some nice lead guitar flourishes.

2. I Go Wild

I Go Wild is delight with a classic Stones groove brimming with energy. This essentially Jagger-penned track is a major highlight on Voodoo Lounge heavily featuring Keith’s signature open G-tuned five string Telecaster and Ron’s accompanying slide work. Jagger’s nuanced vocal delivery works well on this track and even includes some adrenaline-charged spoken-word fun towards the end, Shattered-style.

1.Saint of Me

A minor hit single in the UK, Bridges to Babylon’s menacing Saint of Me begins quietly with a guitar and voice before sliding into a nice groove before building to a rock crescendo Stones-style, featuring for the first time since Goats Head Soup the great Billy Preston on organ. Built up from a Jagger/Watts demo, the experimental Bridges To Babylon is certainly a ‘Jagger’ album, but despite Richards’ absence here (that’s right Keith is not on this track!), Mick dazzles on Saint of Me, seeking redemption from his past sins via a Gospel vibe and lyrical references to symbolic figures from Christianity. Eventually a beautiful bridge creeps in with great backing vocals and it does alot to add to this Stones classic and golden modern-era moment.

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4 Responses to The Rolling Stones – Top 5 Modern-Era Tracks

  1. While I’m generally more fond of the Stones’ earlier work (with “Sticky Fingers” being my favorite album), I agree these are pretty decent tracks. I also thought their “Blue & Lonesome” covers album came out well. I had not appreciated Mick Jagger’s blues harp chops!

    Based on recent interviews Jagger gave, it also looks the Stones have enough gas left for another album with original music. Their recent single “Living in a Ghost Town” sounded promising.

    • Agreed christian. I’m big on the Stones 60s and 70s albums – even have a soft sport for their 80s work. I thought LiaGT was a decent track, and yes I keep hearing about a new album of originals. Lets hope so!

  2. Pingback: The Rolling Stones – Fully Finished Studio Outtakes | THE PRESS | Music Reviews

  3. Pingback: The Rolling Stones – Emotional Rescue Outtakes & Demos | THE PRESS | Music Reviews

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