It’s been seven years since The Rolling Stones last unleashed any new output on their adoring public.
Seven years, granted, in a career that has now spanned across fifty, but seven long years nonetheless.
Anything released by a band that has been on the go for so long is understandably met with trepidation by even those who pride themselves on having the most open mind. Can [insert aging frontman’s name] still hold a tune? Does [arthritic and senile guitarist] still have the wherewithal to recognise a good lick?
Don’t worry. This is The Stones.
It’s fair to say Mick and Keef always had their finger on the pulse in terms of pseudo-political awareness, as has been evident since they first strutted onto the scene back in 1962. And ‘Doom and Gloom’ proves that, even after years of excess, they have lost none of their edge in that respect.
First things first though, importantly, it sounds like a Stones song. Even before Jagger’s instantly identifiable sneer emerges the crunching guitar riff sits comfortably amongst their back catalogue, perhaps most prominently a heavier progression of the ‘Tattoo You’-era harder edged material. Enter Charlie Watts and his resonant drums and everything falls beautifully into place.
The lyrics develop from fantastical if slightly cryptic political implications (‘I had a dream last night I was piloting a plane, all the passengers were drunk and insane. I crash landed in a Louisiana swamp, shot up a horde of zombies but I come out on top. What’s it all about? It just reflects my mood.’) to all out bureaucratic swipes (‘Lost all that treasure in an overseas war. It just goes to show you don’t get what you paid for’).
The release of ‘Doom and Gloom’ is first and foremost a predecessor to the forthcoming greatest hits collection ‘GRRR!’ which hits the shelves next month, but of far more interest are the credence-gathering rumours of a Stones tour in 2013. With Keith already letting slip of planned dates in London and New York, feverish chat has spread like wildfire of what will undoubtedly be billed once again as a ‘last chance to see’ event.
It’s looking likely, and on this evidence it will be every ounce as enthralling as the last time such a label was thrust upon their concerts in 2006.
The Rolling Stones at 50, still shoving two Sticky Fingers up at the doubters.