Friday Top Ten Random Tunes
So, without further ado, here are mine:
- Bob Dylan, Blowin' in the Wind
- Joy Division, Day of the Lords
- The Yardbirds, Hot House of Omagararshid
- Led Zeppelin, Dazed and Confused
- The Cult, Medicine Train
- The Rolling Stones, Salt of the Earth
- Prefab Sprout, Faron
- The Clash, London Calling
- David Bowie, Telling Lies
- Marvin Gaye, Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)
Speaking of classic rock, though, I happened to pick up the new Rolling Stones album, A Bigger Bang. Not having purchased a new Stones album since the 1980's sometime (I believe it was the rather lame Dirty Work that finally did it for me--although I have replaced many of the vinyl copies of classics, like Exile on Main Street, with CDs since then), I was swayed by the positive reviews and a couple of songs that were getting some radio play.
And you know what? A Bigger Bang is good. Real good. Surprisingly good. In fact, it's the best that the Stones have put out since Tattoo You in 1981. The only things that keep it from surpassing Tattoo You are a lack of one or two instant classic songs (Start Me Up, Waiting on a Friend, and Little T & A were such songs from Tattoo You, for example) and the lack of some restraint on which songs to include. This is the Stones' longest album since Exile on Main Street (a two-album set back in the days of vinyl), and it shouldn't have been. For example, the album would have been stronger without trifles like She Saw Me Coming. And, for all the minor controversy it caused among rightwingers when the album was released, Sweet Neocon just plain sucks, with embarrassingly inane lyrics fused to a lame melody that lurches along seemingly endlessly. And, no, it has nothing to do with the song's politics, which I tend to sympathize with. It's just a bad song.
On the plus side, Rough Justice, Let Me Slow Down, and Look What the Cat Dragged In are satisfying old school Stones rockers. Back of My Hand is the kind of nasty blues number that the Stones haven't done this well since Ventilator Blues on Exile or even Stray Cat Blues on Beggars Banquet, and Rain Fall Down is a nice little funky number. Streets of Love and This Place Is Empty are nice little Stones-style ballads.
True, this album doesn't really break any new ground, but, really, did anyone expect it too? There are certain bands and performers that one looks to for going into new and unexpected directions (David Bowie and Radiohead, for example), and there are others that one just expects to do what they do and keep doing it well, with only minor changes and slow evolution (AC/DC, for example). The Stones have tended towards the latter category since the 1970's (the last time they shook up their sound being in 1978 with Some Girls) and there's really nothing wrong with that. Besides, most of the members of the Stones are at the age when most of us are thinking about retiring; yet they somehow found it within themselves to put out their most vital album in a quarter century.
Over the next couple of weeks, I think I'll have to review a couple of other of my purchases, because I've found a couple of real gems that I had previously been unaware of. It's also getting close to the time when I think about putting together my list for the top ten best albums of the year, as I did last year...