Sunday Morning: Sympathy For The Stones

The last time the Rolling Stones toured, I sprung for the $50 ticket figuring this would be my last chance to see them play live, and I certainly didn't want to be the only one to miss catching this piece of rock 'n' roll history.

I was as right as I was wrong.

Apparently I wasn't the only one who didn't want to miss out. Their last album of new material Voodoo Lounge, was highly lucrative and successful, but everyone, including myself, who thought it would be their last outing now stand to be corrected.

Sly and unwilling to give in to laws of gravity, the Stones slid into the studio once again and the 50-something rockers have come up with a whole new batch of songs. Thirteen tunes are planned for their umpteenth album Bridges To Babylon, due out soon. And as the Stones have been apt to do with their highly-hyped releases, a tour is coming right behind it.

There's no question, the Stones seem to be hoping for a repeat of their latest success. Like the Grateful Dead, they rely on their fans' loyalty and the hope that people see something beyond their wrinkled faces, a history that they don't want to part with. As for me, I'm young enough not to know any better. I have to rely on word of mouth.

And you know how that can be.

Just in case the draw isn't strong enough this time around, however, the Stones employed a slew of young, hipper guest musicians to beef up their lineup. Recorded last month in Hollywood, Me'Shell N'degocello, who had a hit with her 1994 collaboration with John Mellencamp on Van Morrison's "Wild Night," shows up on bass and Wayne Shorter, famed jazz musican, brought along his saxophone to the studio. Lili Haydn, a studio violinist who's played with Porno for Pyros and Hootie and the Blowfish, also contributed on some of the tracks.

And now, (News Flash!) we find the Stones have even turned to borrowing melodies of today's artists, a la k.d. lang's mega-hit "Constant Craving," to get people's attention. It was reported that one of the band's new songs sounds a lot like lang's masterpiece. So the Stones, to cover their collective ass, gave k.d. partial credit for the piece. Asked about the song, Mick Jagger said he never heard lang's tune before.

Now let's get this straight: The infectious, highly acclaimed composition received a handful of Grammys when it was released a few years back and constant radio play and he never heard it, never, not once. Yeah... A-huh...

And if that isn't enough to convince the kids that the Stones are still down with the funky beat, they've brought in a number of new production staffers to add to the fray. Don Was, veteran Stones producer held things down while fresh faces such as Babyface ("Producer of the Year" at the Grammys) and the terminally hip Dust Brothers (Beck's acclaimed Odelay) have brought new ideas to the mixing board.

Or so they'll tell you. Word is, however, that the songs which have sneaked their way onto the radio already are little more than the same boring three-chord rock the band for two decades now has tried to recreate from their raw rockin' days of ol'. Unsuccessfully, I might add.

Then again, who am I?

I'm just a kid who never knew Jagger and Richards when they were young and full of piss and beer, dressing in women's clothing and pounding about the stage. Only now they usually have company up there. Surely, the new tour, which begins in Chicago this fall, will be a mindblower, whether or not the Stones rock. But how in the world can they top the 50- foot serpent that towered over the crowd on the Voodoo Lounge tour?

If you're the Stones, I'm sure you'll find a way.

My advice is go out and catch them when they hit a major stadium near you. Afterall, you wouldn't want to be the only one on your block who hasn't seen the Stones, would you?

And who knows -- this might very well be your last chance.