The Rolling Stones – Live Licks

Live Licks (2004)

B

1. Brown Sugar 2. Street Fighting Man 3. Paint It Black 4. You Can’t Always Get What You Want 5. Start Me Up 6. It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll 7. Angie 8. Honky Tonk Women 9. Happy 10. Gimme Shelter 11. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction 12. Neighbors 13. Monkey Man 14. Rocks Off 15. Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’ 16. That’s How Strong My Love Is 17. The Nearness Of You 18. Beast Of Burden 19. When The Whip Comes Down 20. Rock Me, Baby 21. You Don’t Have To Mean It 22. Worried About You 23. Everybody Needs Somebody To Love

 

Man, when I get to a point in a band’s catalog where I have to review two live albums in a row, shit starts to get depressing real fast. Well shit, at least the Forty Licks tour, which Live Licks is culled from, didn’t use a freaking live album as an excuse to tour like the 1999 No Security tour. Nope, just a goddamn greatest hits album. Yeah, that’s the way the prove to the world that you’re still a viable, hip act that transcends nostalgia, Mick – release a double disc blowout live album from your greatest hits tour. All the kids will go apeshit.

As you might imagine, I hate this album. But it’s also great. Here are a few reasons why both are true:

Reason I Hate This Album: Disc 1 as a whole is the most pointless piece of shit the Stones have ever foisted upon the public and yes, I include “Indian Girl” in that assessment. It’s basically “the Stones’ 11 greatest hits – played by a bunch of old guys, and versions that will add absolutely nothing to your life if you’ve ever heard the originals!” Do several of the entries in the greatest hits parade sound great, especially for the band’s age? Absolutely. Does that mean I have to fork over 25 bucks so I can experience the privilege of hearing the 167th officially released live version of “Brown Sugar,” as played by the still very solid but increasingly unspectacular, lumbering and backup musician-dominated Rolling Stones? Fuck no. But I did it anyway when this album came out, because I was 13 and stupid and apparently unaware of how to use the internet. That’s money I’ll never get back that I could’ve used on plane tickets to see my girlfriend or beer or one of those little robots that clean your house that they sell in SkyMall.

Reason This Album Is Great: Disc 2’s tracklisting is essentially No Security 2; it’s comprised of obscure cuts and other classic songs that the Stones had never put on a live album before. “Worried About You!” “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’!” “Neighbors!” “Monkey Man!” Great, great songs that would be most other bands’ “greatest hits,” but for the Stones are buried gems that only devoted fans know about. And they still sound terrific. Most of them, anyway.

Reason I Hate This Album: Father time has finally caught up to Keith Richards. And by “father time” I mean “rheumatoid arthritis.” With his knuckles now swollen to the size of grapefruits, Keef can no longer lean back and squeeze all the rock juice out of his guitar like he used to. Sure he can still let ‘er rip when all he has to do is break out the same Chuck Berry licks he’s been playing since he was 16 (“Neighbors,” “When The Whip Comes Down,” “It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll,” not coincidentally three of the strongest performances on the album), but he’s most just noodling around here instead of fucking slaying those riffs like he did in the old days. Don’t get me wrong, he can still play, but thanks to his debilitated joints and an increasingly clownish stage act that often seems to involve more smiling, hammy gestures and pointing to the audience than, you know, playing the guitar (perhaps devised to cover up for his diminishing skills, hmm?), the old Keef is pretty much gone for good.

Reason This Album Is Great: the mega-heavy rendition of “Street Fighting Man” is the one song on disc 1 that sounds totally reinvigorated – it’s refreshingly different from any version they’d played on any previous tour. In a word, it rocks.

Reason I Hate This Album: For no reason whatsoever, they edit out the final verse of “Rocks Off” (“the sunshine bores the daylights out of me!”), which, as I’m sure you’re aware, is the best part of the song. MOTHERFUCKERS.

Reason This Album Is Great: Ronnie’s solos are by and large among the least sloppy and embarrassing that he’s played on Stones live albums. He even does a great job approximating Mick Taylor’s solo on the jazzy part of “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’,” which, amazingly, totally rules!

Reason I Hate This Album: Keith coughing up “The Nearness Of You” from the pit of his drug-ravaged innards. They could reanimate Hoagy Carmichael’s corpse right now and it would probably sound better doing this song. Just dreadful.

Reason This Album Is Great: The Stones have no business sounding as awesome as they do here at dusting off old the old vintage ’65 soul covers “That’s How Strong My Love Is” and “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love.” Mick’s soul testifying chops are better than ever, and he drags up the since-deceased soul great Solomon Burke for a cameo on “Everybody.” Fun!

Reason I Hate This Album: Sheryl Crow guest appearance on “Honky Tonk Women.” Ugh.

I could go on, but you get the point. Some of it’s infuriating and some of it’s awesome. It’s the Rolling Stones. The most controversial thing that they’ve done in the last 30 years is put a cartoon chick’s tits on the cover of this album (seriously, people were upset about that. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, since it came out in the same year as Janet Jackson Nipplegate). You know what you’re getting. They just don’t stop.