Not Beige--The Rolling Stones Several Years After Painting it Black

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The Rolling Stones are the polarizing group of rock music, spanning centuries now, fostering geriatric jokes since the 80s, generating conflicts between otherwise sedentary music lovers. They may not be controversial for the reasons they were back in 1964 when they emerged as the bad boys of the British Invasion, but they have never ceased to generate debate, often among stoned and/or drunk people.  I remember hearing they were washed up when they put out Emotional Rescue, a weird mix of disco influenced Stones and Stones, back in 1980. Thing is, “Send it to Me” and other tunes from that album sound decently fresh today while many of the cooler works of the time sound like 80s music.

So a new album of old Stones’ tunes will sound like what? Dated? Retro? Sad? Not at all, actually—2013’s Hyde Park Live is a refreshing, live version of the tunes they are known for, a fifth or so of them that is. 


The Stones have never done the rehash, never settled for the replication of yesterday.  They really do jam it up and work the songs, whether it’s “Satisfaction,” “Emotional Rescue,” or “Doom and Gloom.” The result is that Hyde Park Live is something like a greatest hits live album, though an elliptical one.  Considering a fan who was 27 in 1964 when the Stones broke onto the scene is now 77, time and space are major factors in the production of this release.

The Rolling Stones were derided in 1980 as old dudes, a grand example of that horrible word, “ageism.”  Their revisiting of Hyde Park, in honour of a milestone concert performed with Mick Taylor just days after the death of Brian Jones in 1969, in 2013 is bold. Brian Jones fans are not necessarily Rolling Stones fans. Any fan of rock music, though, has to recognize these songs as the spirit of rock and roll of the last five decades. Of more importance is the fact that over half of their albums over this span—and in many cases their best—are live ones, at least 18 live albums officially released.

Not Beige

This version of “Paint it Black” is one of the best, as is “Honky Tonk Women,” “Gimme Shelter,” and—even—“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” They are still a live band and can prove it even when Jagger is 70.  It is one of those moments when you wish a guy like Jones could show what he can do at 71.


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