Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Rolling Stones - Grrr! [album review]

Released November 12th

The Rolling Stones machine gets fired up with a batch of new projects to commemorate the band's 50th anniversary, including upcoming live dates that will feature special appearances from former members Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor, the recent premiere of an HBO documentary, and a new compilation album (badly) titled Grrr!, which has an equally terrible cover. Grrr! was released in a variety of 40 track, 50 track, and 80 track configurations, with the 50 track release being the one reviewed here.

Grrr! gets things mostly right with a song selection obviously heavy on the Stones' 60s and 70s output (36 of the 50 tracks cover the two decades). From their 1963 debut single "Come On", a Chuck Berry cover, through to 1978's "Beast Of Burden", only the inclusions of the psychedelic-era "We Love You" and the plodding cover of Willie Dixon's "Little Red Rooster" raise an eyebrow, although the latter assumedly made the cut as a nod to the band's strong blues influence. Inexplicably missing from this period, however, are "Bitch", "Midnight Rambler", "Mother's Little Helper", "Let It Bleed", and "Heart Of Stone" (some of these do appear on the 80 track version). All the other usual suspects are here, including "Satisfaction", "Brown Sugar", "Sympathy For The Devil", "Wild Horses", et al. 

The last 30+ years of the Stones' career deservedly gets short shrift, as they've proven to be the very definition of the veteran band whose creative peak has long since passed. There's been some fine moments here and there, mind you, as tracks like "Start Me Up", "Waiting On A Friend", "Don't Stop", "Mixed Emotions", and "Anybody Seen My Baby?" prove. Expectedly, there's more than a few head scratchers for both some of the songs included ("Streets Of Love", "She Was Hot", and "Love Is Strong") and omitted ("One Hit To The Body", plus Steel Wheels gems "Slipping Away" and "Almost Hear You Sigh"). There's a couple of obligatory new tracks: "Doom And Gloom" is a decent reworking of musical territory that's been well-trodden by the group, while "One More Shot" is representative of the predominantly sub-standard material the band has released since the 70s ended. 

With a few exceptions, Grrr! proves to be an agreeable collection that serves as an upgrade to the group's 2002 Forty Licks best-of, demonstrating why it is that Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, and Ronnie Wood are still referred to as "The Greatest Rock 'N Roll Band in the World".  

Rating: A

Related post: my April review of Jagger's Superheavy supergroup project