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Stones, Enemies, and Death
2005-09-02 08:48
by Will Carroll

I got my hands on some advance copies of three albums I've really been looking forward to, so while I typed up today's UTK and "Four Downs", I gave them a good listen.

The Rolling Stones "A Bigger Bang" has been coming for a while and is really the first Stones album in a while that seems to be fully engaged. I'm not a big fan of their last few albums with Don Was, who seems more focused on making them 'sound like the Stones' than challenging them. That makes for one or two good songs and a lot of filler. "Bang" isn't like that; it's as if finding the roots of their music in the blues has re-energized them somehow. There's the mix of swagger and stagger, as Material Issue once said, that makes the Stones the Stones and surprisingly relevant as they head into their fifth decade.

Okay, that bears some looking at - are the Stones relevant? Does a band that flaunts Roger Daltrey's wishes really mean anything in today's fractured market? Yes. The Stones are like Babe Ruth coming back to play and still hitting sixty home runs. They're fully capable of mailing it in, showing up to be a museum piece rather than a rock n' roll band, but don't. Keith Richards hasn't lost a step, Ron Wood takes a bigger role than he has since "Under Cover", and Mick Jagger is, well, he's still Mick Jagger.

So, is the album good? Yes. It's the best Stones album since Tattoo You, fully resonant yet fully Stones. There's nothing classic here in the way of Gimme Shelter or Satisfaction, but there's also nothing bad. 'Sweet Neo Con' has got a lot of press and it's the closest the album has to a throw away. 'Look What The Cat Dragged In' sounds a bit too much like INXS's "Need You Tonight" for my tastes.

And speaking of INXS, "Rock Star" has been my top show of the summer. "Prison Break" looks to be the new "24", but "Rock Star" has been everything "American Idol" hopes to be. Down to the bottom five now, there's absolutely no one who doesn't belong. The phenomenally annoying Ty is gone now, exiting while playing the race card and killing one of my favorite songs of all time, leaving an interesting mix of modern and classic. I still think Dave Navarro might be better suited than any of the remaining contestants, but the results of this show are solid. I'm looking forward to next season.

Back to the Stones - what's good? "Rough Justice" is nearly a classic. It's growing on me, with the growling Richards groove and great lyrics spit out by Mick. "Streets of Love" should be the next single, a moaning broken heart plea that shows just how solid this band still is. "Biggest Mistake" is another great slower piece. Overall, I'm giving this one four stars and recommending everyone give it a listen.

I'm also listening to the new Public Enemy. Again, they sound like the old Public Enemy, the one that broke down every barrier put in front of them in the 80's. Twenty years down the line, Bush is keeping them relevant and no one in rap has the dense, haunting sound that PE has. The lyrics are pretty typical PE, with Flavor Flav taking a slightly reduced profile. The epic album closer "Back In The Building" should be required listening. It's equally good whether you're turning the sound up in your car on a Friday night or angry as Anderson Cooper was last night on CNN.

Finally, the new Death Cab For Cutie album is worth a listen. "Plans" expands on the promise of "Transatlanticism" without being derivative. There's no moment that sticks out, which is my only criticism. This is a band that could be great that seems to be stuck too much in one place. It will sound great on the soundtrack of "The O.C." but it might not stick in your brain much. Worth hearing, but I expect more with their next album.

2005-09-02 09:52:13
1.   RickM
I've picked up the new Stones and Kanye West' latest. I'm saving the Stones for the 5 hour flight to the west coast I'll be making Tuesday. I've listened to Late Registration, and I'm impressed.
2005-09-02 10:07:55
2.   Tom
I'm really pumped about Prison Break too. I like what I've seen so far, but I'm a little nagged by some questions:

1) Is there enough here for a whole season and, if successful, another season after that? I'm really frightened by the idea that they will try and get another season out of this premise. It's called Prison Break. There's got to be a Prison and somebody's got to break out. Cf. What was going to become of Skin if it had lasted? We know, we know, his FATHER is the district attorney.

2) Am I going to watch this all season and be left with the nagging feeling that this belongs on HBO?

3) Will Adibesee (sp?) make a cameo? If not, why not? I'd like to see him as a guard, but he could still wear his rakish little hat.

2005-09-02 11:04:57
3.   Will Carroll
Tom - my understanding is that "Prison Break" wasn't their choice for the name. It's more like an updated "Fugitive" and there's plenty to do on the outside, a la 24. The pilot set up a lot of stuff - Sucre and his fiancee, Abruzzi and the mafia power struggle, and this rogue Special Forces/Secret Service thing.

And Adebise is on "Lost" now. I was wondering about the hat, too.

2005-09-02 13:41:44
4.   Smed
Will - CBS dumped Rock Star onto cable, so I doubt if it will be back. None of the summer reality shows really had a big audience. Heck, after Hit Me Baby One More Time, I've been catching up on my TiVo (and feeding a baby...)
2005-09-02 15:15:12
5.   Will Carroll
No, Smed - they dumped the reality portion onto VH1, where the demographic worked better. It's actually doing reasonably well in the American ratings, but it is KILLING in Europe and Australia, where INXS is bigger than they are here. (Though Kick was still pretty damn big.) I think they'll tinker some with the format and have it back, though it's harder to find bands that need singers. I'm wondering if this format might work for a band that needed a guitarist, or "Rock Star: Spinal Tap" could be next.
2005-09-02 20:39:48
6.   Tom
He's on Lost? How much am I missing by not watching that show?

It always bothered me that the Emerald City had dropped ceilings. I'm not prison designer, but I can guarantee you that there are no dropped ceilings. If it weren't for that, he never would have died.

2005-09-02 22:06:59
7.   Smed
Thanks for the correction - I was just reading what I had posted since I had no interest in the idea of that hack band coming back to life (and I can say they're a hack because I spent money on 4 of their CDs back in the day!)

They should give the air time to great bands of the 80's that didn't get their due because we suck as a music buying country - stuff like the Paul Collins Beat, the Three O'Clock, the Long Ryders, Green on Red, etc.

2005-09-04 05:10:02
8.   Marc Normandin
I just finished blasting Transatlanticism, and am about to pop in the new CD.

Have you ever seen them live Will? I saw them with Pearl Jam here in Boston to kick off that Vote for Change tour. Excellent show.

2005-09-04 08:04:57
9.   ESiegrist
Best thing about Rock Star - the talent on display. Jordis (my God, Jordis... she finds the actual song at the heart of the cliche that Imagine has become, and gets bottom threed for her trouble. People are just plain dumb), Mig, and Marty are light years better than anybody who's ever been a finalist on any Idol show. JD and Suzie aren't half bad either. And that house band shreds. I'm not sure how anyone can take Idol seriously (if they ever could) again after watching ten minutes of this.

Worst thing - the lack of drama. Mig's a foregone conclusion to win, isn't he?

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