"Angry"..Yeah nah not "Sway"-ed - new Stones single reviewed
"188.8.131.52" Mick Jagger counts/shouts in accompanied by a metronomic beat that may as well be a machine but is in fact Steve Jordan (identified by the brief high hat lift before the other processed sounds kick in). Yes with the start of new single "Angry" I'm reminded for a split second of Jagger doing the same count in to "Sway" from the iconic Sticky Fingers but here the comparison ends and the contrasts begin.
I miss Charlie already and I'm barely a few seconds in. he would no doubt would be adding an interesting fill or two or something by now .During "Sway" post count in the Stones settle into a glorious groove courtesy of Charlie that never sounds rushed and breathes in and out all complete with a Bill Wyman wrong note halfway through the song. Jagger supplies dirty guitar alongside Mick Taylor who alternates between slide and regular lead lines all playing together in the same room and conjuring Stones magic in the process.
On "Angry" , the first single from the upcoming Hackney Diamonds , the guitars sound like they have been sucked through a blending machine laden with white noise, the closest comparison sonically is 1983's "Undercover". Surely they would know that revisiting the Stones in the 80's would never seem to be a good idea. So we are left with Jagger over emoting (hear him stretch the 1 x syllable "you" pronounced Yeeeeeeew! in verse 2 ) with what sounds inextricably like an auto tune treatment for good (read bad) measure.
The lyrics, a sample below from the first verse , this is the man who once wrote "I'm just living to be dying by your side" ("Moonlight Mile" , track 10 Sticky Fingers)
We have the following from Mick Jagger aged 80:
Don't get angry with me, I never caused you no pain
I won't be angry with you, but I can't see straight
It hasn't rained in a month, the river's run dry
We haven't made love, and I wanna know why
Why you angry with me?
Why you angry?
Contrast with this wisdom at age 26:
Did you ever wake up to find A day that broke up your mind Destroyed your notion of circular time
It's just that demon life has got you in its sway It's just that demon life has got you in its sway
As for the bass playing it can surely only be Richards stabbing away aggressively per his occasional contributions over the years (you can always tell a Keith heavy picked bass (Sympathy for the Devil, Gimme Shelter, Happy) as opposed to Bill being so in the pocket with Charlie it always brought new meaning to the terms groove and elastic. We only seem to get any sense of the "old" Stones in teh last minute with the "Angry, don't get angry with me" fade out amongst "real hand claps". It's similar to the ending of "Start Me Up" so holds some onterst but by then is too late.
It's only rock n roll but I don't think I like it, however it needs to tempered with the fact that the Glimmer Twins are now 80 and Ronnie a mere 76. At this age any day above ground is a good day and for any one else a walk to the gate and back might be termed a success (though one imagines it would be a long walk for each Stone to their letterbox) as opposed to putting out new music as a group in their 61st year . So fair cop they are battling on and wishing to be contemporary in 2023 whatever that means . And there is a zero benchmark for this - as the Stones have been doing since the 70's no band has lasted longer with this sort of catalogue or profile - "destroyed your notion of circular time" indeed.
The launch with Jimmy Fallon last week was telling on several fronts:
Despite wanting to be "hip ", Jimmy Fallon represents dinosaur media via late night television in the US - if you want to be "hip" surely TikTok and an "influencer" would have been better.
Jagger describes the new track recorded with Bill against one of Charlies remaining drum tracks on a new song on the upcoming album as "retro". Yet the accompanying video for "Angry" showcases the band displayed on LA billboards in their 1970's heyday via a decidedly retro "rock chick" actress dressed in leather in a 70's Mercedes. "Nice video, shame about the song" was a refrain from a "Not the Nine o Clock News" parody in the 80's ..yes the 80's again
Richards in the Jimmy Fallon launch that when the "singer wants to record seize the moment" suggesting again this is all Jagger
There is a shopping list of guests anticipated on Hackney Diamonds - Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney (!!) yet so often when these things happen "quality does not mean quantity"
The title of one of the better recent Stones books "The Sun & the Moon & the Rolling Stones" paraphrased Richards oft quoted soundbite that planet earth expects the Rolling Stones to always be here like night follows day. The music will always be there thankfully but as their ages suggest this really really is the "dying of the light" for the three remining Stones, It seems appropriate that the lapping Tongue logo is cracked for the new single.
My advice, find anything from the 70's instead for your listening pleasure...