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A BIGGER BANG

Released: Sept. 5, 2005 in Europe and  Sept. 6, 2005  in the USA & Canada

Produced by The Glimmer Twins & Don Was

Mick Jagger - Lead & Backing Vocals; Guitar & Slide Guitar; Bass; Harmonica; Keyboards; Percussion
Keith Richards -
Guitar; Bass; Keyboards; Percussion; Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals on tracks 9 & 16
Ron Wood -
Guitar & Slide Guitar
Charlie Watts -
Drums

with:

Darryl Jones - Bass
Chuck Leavell -
Keyboards
Matt Clifford -
Keyboards & Strings on track 5; Keyboards & Vibes on track 4
Blondie Chaplin - Backing Vocals on tracks 7 & 16
Lenny Castro - Percussion on track 14
Don Was - Piano on track 9

All songs written by Mick Jagger & Keith Richards

(Click on song for lyrics and song personnel)

 

SONG RATING
Rough Justice   10.0
Let Me Down Slow     9.3
It Won't Take Long     8.1
Rain Fall Down     8.3
Streets Of Love     8.5
Back Of My Hand   10.0
She Saw Me Coming     8.8
Biggest Mistake     8.4
This Place Is Empty     8.0
Oh No, Not You Again     8.9
Dangerous Beauty     9.7
Laugh, I Nearly Died     7.5
Sweet Neo Con     9.4
Look What The Cat Dragged In     8.6
Driving Too Fast     8.7
Infamy     8.5
Ave.    8.79

 

REVIEW

“This is a damn good album”, I find myself saying that each time I play it. At its release, A Bigger Bang was the most talked about Stones album by fans since Tattoo You, and stirred up the most excitement since Some Girls. Some fans have gone as far as saying it is one of their best ever, many more feel it is their top LP since Some Girls, and yet others feel it is just average at best. Well, in my opinion (and who else’s would you be reading here), it is their best since Some Girls, maybe even better! But let’s be fair here, Some Girls and A Bigger Bang are two different albums. A Bigger Bang has a bit more rock to it, and has 16 songs, compared to the more mellow Some Girls with only 10 tracks. Some Girls was also more of a band effort than A Bigger Bang, with this new release being more a Mick Jagger and Keith (Keef) Richards effort, with Mick really stepping out front on this one. 

This is one of the best written Stones albums in years. Let’s first take a look at the two best songs on here, its opening song, the rocking “Rough Justice”, and the bluesy “Back Of My Hand”. As soon as you hear the opening guitar riff to “Rough Justice”, your know your in for something great. It’s full of all kinds of energy from beginning to end and never lets up. It’s been years since I wanted to play air guitar to a new Stones song, I’m glad the drought is finally over! This is the best overall song on A Bigger Bang, maybe not my favorite, by still the best. Then we have the Stones finally returning to their Chicago Blues roots with “Back Of My Hand”. Okay, this may not be another “No Expectations”, but it’s still great. Jagger surprises his fans by playing slide guitar on this one, and he’s not bad either. It’s the first time he ever played slide before, and claims what you hear on the record just came to him out of nowhere one day. But let’s don’t forget his great harp heard on here too, which helps push this one to the top more than any other instrument heard on the song. I’m sure that Brian Jones’ spirit is smiling down on this one! 

There are a few other great tunes on this album, even if they don’t score a ten. Two that are somewhat similar are “Sweet Neo Con” and “Dangerous Beauty”, as both have a political bend to them. “Sweet Neo Con” was the one that everybody was talking about before anyone even heard it; since the Stones let it slip out that this song was anti- George W. Bush. Okay, his name doesn’t come up anywhere in the song, and Jagger has stated it’s about his administration, not him, but I think everybody knows who the Christian being sang about is in this number. After the song was finally released and heard by the masses, a right wing Stones fan and cyber friend of mine declared that “Sweet Neo Con” didn’t live up to it’s hype and wasn’t that great a song. Well, open up your ears mate, is all I can say to that. Now don’t get me wrong, if you’re a big fan of Bush, you are not going to like the lyrics to this song, period. But dig the music being played here – it is very good! This song is tight and although I agree its lyrics are not as strong as they could have been, they are still right on, as far as this liberal goes.

“Dangerous Beauty” on the other hand is well written and again, indirectly doesn’t shine the best light on the Bush administration, if only because Private Lynndie England, who the song is about, would not have been at the Abu Gharaib Prison had Bush not started the Iraqi war; so in a way this could be called an anti-war song. But damn, and again, too bad Mick didn’t write the same kind of great lyrics for “Sweet NeoCon”, as what we hear on this tune. I’m sure the US military isn’t too happy with this song, as Jagger doesn’t miss anything in describing what went down at the prison. Not only is the prisoner abuse that took place there noted, but Lynndie’s porno shots of her sexual activates with fellow male soldiers come up in this tune too: “I bet you had you fair share of stiffs”. When I rate a song a ten, besides a few other things I consider, are two important ones: 1) When a song comes on the radio, does it pull me away from what I’m doing, and makes me stop to listen to it?.. 2) Does the song make me want to turn up the volume? With “Dangerous Beauty”, it just falls short, in part because I don’t get that desire to up the volume - yet it sure grabs my attention! The problem here lies with how the band plays this number. Not bad, but nothing great either, their performance is average at best. Too bad, because this song with more of a punch from the Boys would have been a pure ten in my book. Funny, “Sweet Neo Con” lacks the great lyrics but the band plays hot on it, the opposite of what can be said about “Dangerous Beauty”. I guess it should be noted that truth being, Jagger plays most of the instruments on both songs. Yes, Keef and Charlie Watts are on both tunes, but Ronnie Wood is MIA on “Dangerous Beauty” (and several other songs, too). Too bad, “Dangerous Beauty” could have made it to the top if maybe Ronnie had added, say his slide guitar, or even a second guitar riff to go with Keef’s somewhat uninspired playing on this one.

Are there any more great tunes on A Bigger Bang? Well yes! The double LP’s second song, “Let Me Down Real Slow” is perhaps its most underrated, with a catchy chorus that sounds great. Again, Jagger shines on this tune, as he does all over the album. Then you have one of the fan’s favorites, “On No Not You Again”. Perhaps the lyrics are a bit weak on this one, but it rocks big time, pure modern Rolling Stones music all the way! You don’t like this song – well then, you don’t like the Stones.

There are a few ballads to be found on the album, too, and ballads are one thing the Stones have always done well. “Streets of Love”, the best of the ballad bunch, was the LP’s first single (along with “Rough Justice”). It seems that Jagger can’t win with all the fans sometimes, and this song proves it. Usually many will bitch that they can’t understand what it is that Mick is singing, but with “Streets of Love”, a few fans claim he is over enunciating! “Biggest Mistake” is another fine ballad that Mick sings to us, with “Rain Falls Down” coming in last on the ballad list, only because one song has too.

Keef sings the lead on two songs on A Bigger Bang, and this is his best one-two punch in years, in that regard anyway. Still, some of his lead vocals on the last several albums have left little to be desired, so that’s not saying much. In fact, I rate “This Place Is Empty” the second lowest on the LP, but again, it isn’t as bad as some of his other past stuff. When ever I hear Keef sing, I think of the Grateful Dead, vocal wise. His gravel-smoked-filled voice would have fitted in with their vocals, not that anybody in the Dead had vocals with their band mates that blended smoothly – yet they still sounded okay in a weird way, and that is why I say that about Keef. You can tell that years of cigarette smoking has taken its toll on his voice, yet sometimes it can still sound cool. Just wish he would stop singing these damn crooner songs, yuck!  Well most of the time yuck, I don’t care when anybody sings in that style, but especially Keef. All of Keef’s best songs with the Stones where he sings the lead have been the true rocking numbers like “Happy”, “Before They Make Me Run”, ‘Little T&A”, etc. On his second lead vocal on the album, “Infamy”, the LP’s closer, he picks up the pace and not only does he sound much better,  the song is much better, too.

Is there anything wrong with this album? Yes. What is it with the LP’s inner notes? If you’re over 40, well your gonna need not only your reading glasses and bright sunlight to read this mess, but a good magnifying glass, too. Not only is the print very small, but the lyrics are laid out in an unusual, hard to follow matter. But I guess I should not complain, since back in the 1960s and ‘70s, Stones fans didn’t get lyrics with their albums. Plus, something is missing from the album’s cover and booklet – the band’s famous trademark, the lips/tongue logo! Yes, you can’t miss then inside the CD case, but damn, there goes another Stones tradition out the window with this release.

This is the Stones best double album, there are no filler songs to be found on it, unlike the fan favorite Exile on Mainstreet. Exile may have had several better top songs on it, but it also had some bombs, too. That’s not the case with A Bigger Bang, as even its second tier songs are at least good. But still, is this one too long? Yes, almost all double albums are. Take away it’s lowest rated songs and make it a single album instead, and you have that much stronger an LP. Why does this almost always seem to be the case with double albums, and why do the Stones feel that they have to record them? Blame it on the extra CD disk space, which wasn’t a factor back in the good old days, when bands only released double albums because they wanted to, not because they felt they had to.

Overall, the Stones finally listened to their fans before they recorded this album, and we thank them for that, as the outcome is grand! They sound like the damn Stones again, finally! I personally waited 27 years for the Boys to release another great LP, and this is the one! A bigger bang from the Stones to their fans, for sure!

- Keno 2005

To listen to some sound clips from A BIGGER BANG, or to buy the CD, click here: Bigger Bang Buy.com icon or  A Bigger Bang (2009 Re-Mastered) - Digital Download

To read fan reviews about this album, go here.

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