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A Bigger Bang from the Rolling Stones

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The Rolling Stones have released several details of their new album in a statement on their web site. A Bigger Bang will be released September 6th and is the band’s first album since Bridges to Babylon in 1997.

The first single from the 16-song album will be “Streets of Love.” Other tracks confirmed for the album are “Back of My Hand,” “It Won’t Take Long,” “Laugh, I nearly Died,” “Rain Fall Down,” “This Place is Empty,” and “Infamy” (the latter two sung by guitarist Keith Richards). All 16 tracks are Jagger-Richards originals.

I love the Rolling Stones. This is not an earth-shattering proclamation. The Stones have sold tens of millions of records over the course of their now more than 40 years as a band. Clearly, I am not alone.

I am in a relatively exclusive club where the Stones are concerned. The first Rolling Stones’ album I ever purchased? Voodoo Lounge. I am one of the few who thinks the Rolling Stones did anything worthwhile after 1972. Even though it would be easier to pile on with the masses, I like the Stones post-Exile work (and I do not stop at Some Girls).

So I am excited about a new Stones’ album, but I am nervous about it already. I have not heard a single song from the album and I am afraid I already know what is wrong with it. The may have a A Bigger Bang but said bang will almost assuredly be too damn long.

I think there is an excellent album on Voodoo Lounge if you cut four or five songs from it (dropping it from 15 tracks to a nice 10 or 11). This same criticism can be applied to Bridges to Babylon. Bridges was only 13 songs but probably would have benefited from being two songs shorter.

There is no shame in releasing an album of 10-12 songs with a run time of 45-55 minutes. Reasonable people can argue the degree to which quality songs are diluted by filler but it does happen. It happened to the Stones’ more recent efforts and it happens to many other artists working today- this is one of many factors behind the success of the iTunes Music Store. Fans are getting tired of paying for filler and too many artists find their ambitions stretch beyond their reach- they cannot go the distance.

If anyone has gone the distance, it is the Stones. Here’s to hoping A Bigger Bang is more like the all-time classic Exile than the worthy, but bloated Voodoo Lounge.

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About Josh Hathaway

  • I picked up a used LP copy of “England’s Newest Hitmakers” last night – whoa, one of the best things I’ve heard all year. The whole evil magic is there, pure.

  • Barry, it is so funny you mention England’s Newest Hitmakers. I listened to that album yesterday. Allow me to make a suggestion: if what you picked up is not from the remastered series [SACD Hybrid in DigiPak], do yourself a favor and get one of those. The sound is much improved (to my ears) and the material absolutely deserves.

    England’s Newest, 12×5, and Now! are the foundation of rock. Listening to those albums reminds me of why I still listen to the Stones. Their classic ‘original’ albums would not come until later, but those first three records are magic.

  • Hell, I got the worst version, the US faux “stereo” LP. For $3. I’ll have to get at least “Tell Me” on remastered file, for sure. Foundation of rock no doubt, I thought side 1 WAS friggin’ Exile. I’m sure the next one or two are good, too – especially the Chess session. Ever read the second ALO autobio – man, there’s some GREAT stories in that book.

  • I have not read that bio. I will have to pick up a copy. I am so behind in my reading it is pathetic.

    I would have done the same thing for $3. When cash flow allows, it is worth the upgrade. Those first three records are revelations in the remastered form (especially 12×5. It sounds unbelievably good!!).

  • t-roy

    I live in L.A. and have had a chance to either 1) hear bits of this album or 2) talk to people who were there in the studio when Mick and Keith and Don Was wrapped it up off of Sunset Blvd at the old A&M studios. The general consensus is that 1) this is a very hard rocking album 2) it is a considerable step up from every record the Stones have released post Some Girls and 3) The Stones were fully aware of the expectations everyone had and delivered. Big Time. You heard it here first- this album WILL be the comeback.

  • The Stones have loads in their UNRELEASED archives – Start Me Up was originally a reggae song but they bluesed and rocked it up before they released it, a good few years after they had originally wrote it. Most of us know that Sympathy for the Devil was originally a Country & Western song! God and the Stones only know what GEMS we have yet to hear.

  • T-Roy, I am one of the devoted and I hope this album delivers the goods. As I said in the story, I have enjoyed the Latter Day Stones albums. I just think they have been weakened by being overly long.

    Very little would make me happier than to have this album be a stunner. I believe they still have the chops to do it.

  • Andrew, I wish the Stones would do what Dylan has done with the Bootleg series. There is so much in the vaults that we should hear. I know some of it is off-limits due to legal hassles, but the rest should be released. And soon. At one time, Ronnie Wood said they were considering releasing a box instead of or in addition to ’40 Licks.’ It would have been great.

    I hope the new album has the goods. It certainly could. I would have been a bit more encouraged at the possibility if the news release reported an 11-song album as opposed to a 16-song disc. We shall see. I will be there opening day, that’s for sure.

  • Giorgio

    It amazes (and amuses) me to read about people discovering “England’s Newest Hitmakers” and the subsequent Stones LPs released in the US, “12×5” and “Now.” I bought these when they were originally released, and it’s no exaggeration to say they changed my life. “Hitmakers” to me is the first punk rock LP, raw, full of youthful energy, attitude and sexuality. “12×5” and “Now” are hardcore R&B and blues recordings. Jagger and Richards hadn’t yet come into their own as songwriters on these disks, and the few original numbers are imitative of their influences and not especially remarkable. But the band back then had great taste in the tunes they chose to cover, and they unearthed some obscure numbers that were only regional R&B hits in the US, like the priceless “Down Home Girl” (“Lord I swear/the perfume you wear/was made outta turnip greens/and everytime I kiss you girl/it tastes like pork ‘n beans.”) A real hoot, especially considering that back then these limey longhairs probably had never made the acquaintance of either turnip greens or US-style pork and beans.

  • Girgio, the first Stones’ album I ever bought was Voodoo Lounge. It was released a year or two after high school and I really liked “Love is Strong” (still do).

    From there, I started slowly collecting the albums that made the band’s reputation. I don’t have all of their albums (I am still missing a couple of the late 70’s live albums and Satanic…Request (if Jagger doesn’t like that album, I refuse to pay full price for it). 🙂

  • Andrew, the band seems ready to dip into those bountiful archives.

    Can you say, “Cocksucker Blues?”

  • t-roy

    DJRadiohead I agree with you all the way Voodoo Lounge would have benefited from a few of the throwaways being thrown away (“baby break it down?” outta here!) Interestingly enough I am also one of the few people out there who thinks Exile on Main Street was too long (guess who else agrees with me? One Mr. Keith Richards, who has always been on the record as saying it could have been a single album) There is ONE new song I’ve heard where the vocals are a little repetitive (She Saw Me Coming) But everything else is a mindblower. If you like hard rocking Stones this IS your record. Stay tuned.

  • They should be able to come up with a full length CD full of material, considering that it’s been eight frickin’ years between albums. Is two songs a year too breakneck a work pace?

  • Magoo

    I agree, I agree – give us quality not quantity.
    throw those sub-standard extras on the old “B-sides plus extras” cd’s / lp’s us tragic fans love to collect (but rarely play – ABKCO’s Metamorphosis anyone?)
    Or give us a Ronnie Wood style output at great speed as Pearl Jam do with their live stuff. You’ve got the legacy, got the money, give us the good music! We’ll most probably buy up the intermediary stuff as well – at a cheap price!

  • T-Roy… you are building me up big here. I want very much that this album should deliver. I am going into this as a fan. I want to love the album but I will not be an easy sell. These are the Stones. They do not get free passes.

    You seem to have had some access to things. Any word on why Ronnie is apparently absent from much of the record?

    I think Exile could have been shortened to a single disc- most double LPs really could. Exile just happens to be one of the few that works as a double as well. I might explore my ‘single’ version of Exile… just for grins.

  • t-roy

    You are correct Radiohead, the Stones DO NOT get a free pass. Check out Keno’s Rolling Stones website and you will see my SAVAGE reviews of Bridges to Babylon (too many producers, too many bass players, Waddy and not Ronnie?) and No Security (crap in my opinion). So I don’t want YOU to think it’s the best thing since whole wheat bread. But I CERTAINLY think this album kicks butt, and if you go to http://www.rollingstones.com you can download or sample 3 tunes (Rough Justice, which is a full on rocker, and Back of My Hand which is old school dark blues) and you tell me!

    Why no Ronnie? The rumor mill is alive and well (1) continuing rehab after a relapse, 2) the boys wanted it to be a Mick/Keith thing because they really haven’t collaborated in ten years- you can ALWAYS tell who wrote what…until now! but the deep dark secret about the Stones is that Ronnie Wood has always been treated as a sideman (financially, he was still a HIRED HAND until Babylon came out- now think about that for a second- for TWENTY YEARS he was paid just like any other hired gun) and even then Jagger allegedly voted AGAINST him getting a piece of the Stones financial pie.

    The Stones have always been VERY protective about songwriting credits Mick Taylor wrote I’m Going Down and Keith does not even play on it, but it reads Jagger/Richard. Mick Taylor wrote half of Goats Head Soup too (keith does not play on HALF the ALBUM) but didn’t get credit. So Ronnie’s absence may have to do with money or just maybe Mick and Keith wanted to go back to 1965 and lock themselves in a room. Who knows?

    Check out the tunes and get back at me.

  • diehardstonesfan

    i’m downloading the new album on emule:
    i hope i can listen to the whole album before it’s released.

  • T-roy, I hope I did not sound like I was suggesting you were too much of a ‘homer’ to know the difference between good and bad music. Incidentally, I agree with you about No Security, although “Corrina, Corrina” makes me happy for some reason. I actually like Bridges but agree it has a few flaws (mostly the ones you noted).

    As to the Ronnie rumours, they have been all over the place. Booze, emphysema, etc. I actually read in the Stones’ coffee table book and in a RS mag interview that Ronnie got cut in before the Steel Wheels tour. In the book, Ronnie said it was Bill and Charlie who went to bat for him. He did not come out and say that Mick opposed the idea, but that inference was a safe one to draw. Either way, Ronnie was a ‘hired hand’ for a very long time. I had heard the songwriting credits and Mick Taylor being frozen out on some money/credit issues.

    I love the idea of Mick and Keith going back into a room and writing together again. I think it bodes well for the album. I am really looking forward to this one.

  • SheSaidYeah

    long-time stones die-hard, though i am only 27. Exile is my musical bible; but i too love the older and newer stuff: all the way from the mod-60’s stuff (Aftermath baby!!) to the golden era (LIB, BB, Exile, SF go without saying, Goat’s head soup is way underrated) to the beginning of the ronnie years (Black and Blue is also grossly underrated) through Voo Doo Lounge.

    as far as these new tunes go:
    Streets of Love is terrible, sounds like a throw away from mick’s last crapy solo album

    Rough Justice is more like it, very rocking and stonesy

    Back of My Hand is nice but had unreached potential, i kept waiting for the big explosive blues cresecendo that never came, sort of musical blue balls. Overall, I am very excited for this record, i am confident it will be better than steel wheels, voo doo, and B2B, but doubt it will be better than their last “great” record (Tattoo You in my opinion).

    It is too bad they can’t produce the golden years magic like Dylan; Love and Theft and Time Out of Mind are truly breathtaking.

  • Chris

    I have been a Stones fans since the late 1970s. This new CD (I have heard about half of it) is good. Nothing more to be said. They are pure musicians and have stood the test of time. In fact, for guys all more or less in their 60s they still kick ass; and the music is still better than most of the junk that passes from the newer, over-produced, politically-correct, poser bands of today. They can barely play their instruments, and they are too busy trying to appear sensitive to little girls.

  • t-roy

    I agree with Chris. The Stones are better than bands ONE THIRD of their ages. Is anyone really going to tell me that the Killers or the Kaiser Chiefs kick butt like the Stones? No. Unlike Clapton and Rod Stewart and most of their contemporaries who don’t still rock out, the Stones still deliver the goods, as is evidenced by ther fact that they have two of the top attended tours of all time.
    Just picked up my tickets for ther November 13th show, with Metallica as the opener. Would any other “old” band dare to have Metallica OPEN for them? No. But the Stones are NOT just any other old band. Lars and Hetfield will have their hands full that night. Guaranteed.

  • Ok… I have been listening to the Stones for an amazing 17 years… Then again, I’m only 17 and am very blessed to have been exposed to the Stones unlike so many of my friends who listen to Cold Play and Green Day. I have to say this new album is a blast for me, to see this legend come alive again. Rough Justice is amazing, and Back of my Hand and Street of Love are not half as bad as the post-Punk crap the is jamming up ClearChannel airwaves.

    Props out to them, and may the Stones never stop Rolling, and rocking…

  • SheSaidYeah

    there is a secret club gig at the phoenix concert theater tonight in toronto for the stones to warm up for the tour. goddamn why must i live so far from toronto. tix are only $10 to get in. now THAT is the bargain of the century.

  • JR

    DJRadiohead: I think Exile could have been shortened to a single disc- most double LPs really could.

    I’d do a remix, so we could hear the actual tunes behind that muddled mess of horns and keyboards and shit. That mix is almost as bad as All Things Must Pass

  • Scottt

    Just downloaded the 3 new songs from the forthcoming CD. I’ve listened to these several times because 2 out of 3 are stunning. Back Of My Hand is chilling and dark, the very best blues composition I have heard from the Stones since Exile. It’s raw, but not contrived. This song is channeling the spirit of Muddy Waters like nothing you’ve ever heard before.

    Rough Justice is another Exile/Stick Fingers romp, fast paced, machine gun drums and Mick screaming through just like the old days. If this is the Stones last harrah, then they are truly going out with a ‘bigger bang’.

    Streets Of Love, on the other hand, sounds unfinished and not at the level I would expect from a Jagger/Richards ballad. I think most of what bothers me about the song is the lyrics are too simple and cliche, and Mick’s vocals are a bit too warbly and unbalanced. I know he can still hit the high notes and deliver delicate vocals (as heard on his last solo CD), but he really misses the mark on this one.

    Can’t wait to hear the whole album!

  • Neocon

    After hearing 30 second clips of most of the songs from A Bigger Bang that have popped up on the net, I think that we’re in for a treat this time. There is a certain funky minimalism, raw rock and roll brilliance that is refreshing to hear from the Stones (or, for that matter, anyone else) this day in age. Keith is loud in the mix and beautifully unpolished. Mick, though still espousing the trite, corny post-Jerry lyrics that marred his unfortunate Goddess in the Doorway, sings with an emotionally-charged passion that could give soul to a corpse. If anything, cancer emboldened Charlie’s upward advancement that fans have enjoyed since Voodoo Lounge.

    I am a HUGE Stones fan and have been for about 10 years, ever since seeing the Stones’ Voodoo Lounge show at the age of 12. There is nothing I want more than for this album to be great, for critics to recognize its brilliance, and for millions of copies moved off shelves to prove the Stones relevance. This is what I’ve wanted for years, but the one that has stood in the way has been the Stones themselves. While offering scattered moments of greatness and lots of incredible songs, their recent albums have lacked coherence. This one, from what I’ve heard in 30 second snippets, sounds different.

    Combining the rootsy feel of the album and, unfortuantely to this right-wing “neocon,” the press generated by Jagger’s ridiculous liberal tirade against Bush, I think that commercially and artistically, this could be the year that the Stones take home all the awards. Even if I’m wrong on the chart-busting predictions, I am confident enough in what I’ve heard to say that one thing’s for sure: A Bigger Bang will bring Rock and Roll back to a world of fans who’ve needed it for quite some time.

  • WanderingSpirit

    I am a huge Stones fan. Objectively speaking, Exile remains their last truly great piece of work. Goats Head Soup and It’s Only Rock n roll were good but far from great. Since then every album has had it fair share of brilliance mixed with some really bad tunes. I attribute this to general laziness and boredom. The production has been particularly lackadaisical and is most evident in Emotional Rescue. Some Girls (considered a great album by many) has its moments but rocked the world only because of its timing; it was released in the midst of the disco era and was a breath of fresh air then but again, far from a great album

    Tattoo You was a really well made album but again mostly because it was a collection of outtakes from previous sessions. I loved Undercover (mixed reviews by fans on this one though) and Dirty Work isn’t half as bad as people make it out to be.

    In the late 80’s/90’s Stones have ruled the world of Stadium Rock but it is almost more noteworthy that they are a rejuvenated bunch with respect to song writing and studio/album production. They have dug deep into their catalog and have also managed to sound modern. I just don’t get it when people criticize this trio of albums for “over production”. The albums in the 70’s(Goats Head Soup, It’s Only Rock n Roll, Black and Blue) lacked a sonic theme and suffered from uneven production (post Jimmy Miller days).

    In contrast, Steel Wheels, Voodoo Lounge and Bridges to Babylon are all very very good albums with some inspired rockers (Saint of Me, Out of Control, Rock and a Hard place, I Go Wild Gunface) beautiful ballads (Slipping Away, Out of Tears, Blinded by Rainbows, Almost Hear you Sigh, Blinded by Love, The Worst, New Faces) and some adventurous tunes (Thru and Thru, Moon is Up, Continental Drift, Break the Spell, Terrifying, Might as Well get Juiced).

    The above set was nicely interspersed with some fine mid-tempo rockers of this era (Hearts for Sale, Anybody Seen my Baby) and classic rock’n’roll tunes (Mean Disposition, Baby Break It Down, Too Tight).

    Even the filers (Lowdown, Hold on to Your Hats, Can’t Be Seen, Already Over Me) are better than the fillers from the Stones mid-career catalog.

    So what should we expect from “A Bigger Bang”?

    I have heard 3 songs in their entirety: Rough Justice and Back of my hand sound like All Down The Line and Ventilator Blues from the Exile era Stones. Rough Justice is awesome – it flat out rocks and brings out the best in Mick – his tongue and cheek song writing style -“One time you were my baby chicken, now you’ve grown into a fox/Once upon a time
    I was your little rooster, now I’m just one of your cocks” …

    Streets of Love however sounds like a standard Jagger ballad (we’ve heard better ones even recently)

    The 30-second song clips on Amazon.com don’t reveal much but I am excited. Uncut magazine’s article “HOW THE GLIMMER TWINS GOT THEIR GROOVE BACK” suggests: “Jagger and Richards wrote in tandem and the result is the most organic-sounding album they’ve made in decades.” “Early indications suggest that with this is mind, the Stones have defied the odds and raised their game to produce one last great album. ”

    From what I’ve heard all the songs sound stripped down and it is once again time that the critics and the audience gave the Stones their due – this is the greatest Rock’n’Roll band in the world – PERIOD.

  • neocon

    To hear 4 songs, go to rollingstones.com and follow the links for the “Bigger Bang Media Player” listen. They’ve got Rough Justice, Streets of Love and also It Won’t Take Long and This Place is Empty. These last two blow me away. I just get more and more convinced that this is going to be a great album. Possibly an Album of the Year.

  • brownsugar

    Listen to the last half of Out of Control cranked on your car stereo and then say No Security is crap!

    As for Voodoo Lounge – yes, way underrated: “waitresses with broken noses, checkout girls striking poses, and politicians’ garish wives with alcoholic cunts like knives”

  • t-roy

    Brown Sugar, I agree that the version of Out of Control on No Security is great. Saint of Me is cool, too. But the studio version of You Got Me Rocking is WAY better than the Security version. Any live bootleg of the Mick Taylor era has a better version of Gimmie Shelter than the version presented on Security (and Ron Wood played this song far better on the 89 Live in Atlantic City bootleg) Respectable sounds like a cover band (and a bad one at that) and in general, this album lacks the punch of a Ya’s Ya’s or even a Flashpoint. If you can get ahold of any Stones bootleg during the Mick Taylor years or even Live Licks, the party just seems more lively than the slow, boring and generally inferior live versions presented on No Security. Sorry but on this one, they missed the mark.

  • WanderingSpirit

    Since my last post, I have heard three more songs in their entirety.

    1 – It wont take long.
    2 – Rain Fall Down.
    3 – This place is empty.

    I love all three tunes but particularly, the first two. Rain Fall down is classic modern day solo Jagger (reminescent of Hideaway from his Goddess album). I am sick and tired of the losers who just dont know how to appreciate Mick Jagger and start instinctively criticizing his solo efforts. As much as he panders to the commercial aspects of rock’n’roll, Mick’s brilliance as a song writer, musician, showman and artist is obvious if you’re willing to go beyond the first level. This song reminds us that Mick is the adventurous one and the creative one.

    It wont take long is a classic mid tempo rocker with Mick’s singing and Keith’s rhythym guitar in perfect harmony. The playing is tight and I continue to marvel at the brilliance of the Glimmer Twins when they actually work together.

    This place is empty is another predictable ballad from keith BUT it works this time around and I am happy with the outcome. (Keith has his dozens of minions but objectively, his singing is quite pathetic; his limited repertoire and imagination make the Keith ballads very very “hit” or “miss”. His songs on Voodoo Lounge (The Worst and Thru and thru) were stunners according to me BUT ALL THREE of his ballads on Bridges to Babylon were aweful and should have been canned.

    6 out of the 6 songs that I have heard are top notch. I cant wait to hear the whole album.

  • tephe

    My heart has been hooked to the rolling stones and no other band could simply replace them up. In Indonesia is very hard to find their old albums and its price will be double/triple than a new one. I’m so happy they have released their bigger bang and sounds so differently if we compare to their’s No Security or even Bridges to Babylon. Rough Justice is sounding like Brown Sugar and You Got Me Rocking Now. I almost don’t believe Streets of Love was Stones music, its more alike mick’s solo album. Actually i was expecting classic rock n roll style on their new album..i’m really miss that kind of stuff. Anyway its great, its been a long expectation for me to hear a better songs than theirs No Sec OR Bridges to Babylon.

  • jamari franca

    Ill probably get shot here, but i think the stones have lost much of their power on stage and on record. i see them play in DVDs and keith is much more concentrated on everything but playing, ron is not better and Mick has to carry the burden almost by himself. Mick and Keith are comparing the new record to exile on main street and some critics said its a very rough record that resemlbles their best efforts in the sixties. lets hope theyre alright.
    jamari franca
    rio de janeiro – brasil

  • Vern Halen

    “DJRadiohead: I think Exile could have been shortened to a single disc- most double LPs really could.

    I’d do a remix, so we could hear the actual tunes behind that muddled mess of horns and keyboards and shit. That mix is almost as bad as All Things Must Pass”

    No no no no – you’re missing the point – it’s SUPPOSED to sound like that. All jumbly and crazy and long. Clean it up and cut it to one slice of vinyl and it sounds like….. I dunno – the Killers? Green DAY? SOmething that doesn;t sound much like the Stones’ anyways.

    ATMP by ex-Beatle George – yes, this is a weak mix, which doesn’t help to cover up generally weak songs & arrangements.

    Hmmm…..I wonder how Jimmy Page came up with that big bottm end before anyone else did?

  • tony baker

    I agree with jamari franca. “The Human Riff” made him/them famous. He’s gotta stop stuffing around and trying to be “Keith Richards” on stage, and start just playing his guitar. The only other thing they could possibly do, is put the worst lead in rock (Ron) on bass and bring back Mick Taylor.

  • Jumpin Java

    The Real Deal, true bluesmen, still bangin yer head after 35 years, Bigger Bang delivers the expected, full rocking blues. As for Ron Wood, there is more of his slide magic on this album than ever before, his full body riffs fill the gaps making the music stick to your ribs. Keith still has the open-ended, single-handed lead in blues music with strangling, soul stretching chords topped off with short, sharp, to-the-point leads.
    Mick exhibits his growling blues vocals, and mind-bending lyrics, and ruffed up rocking attitude that has made him a legend. The Stones continue to set the pace with Bigger Bang for those that are niether too young, or too old, but true Stones fans.

  • JPGR

    In an online interview with guitarist Dave Navvaro from Jane’s Addiction he’s quoted in Guitar World from 1991 and 1996 saying it surprises people when he says he always hated The Rolling Stones and he always will! There is also an online interview with guitarist Frank Marino of the hard rock Mahagony Rush where he says he can’t stand The Rolling Stones and calls them the worst hoax ever! He said many people are suckers for The Rolling Stones! In several recent online interviews he says he likes and listens to The Beatles,Jimi Hendrix,The Doors and The Allman Brothers Band,

  • RogerMDillion

    I just read an online interview where someone said they never heard of Frank Marino.

  • hailah

    Am I the only one who hears echos of Lynyrd Synyrd on this record? One of those odd twists of history…

  • Mark Dandrea

    While surfing on Amazon, an interview of Jagger and Richards with the Bigger Bang producer asking the questions (whatever his name is with the dreadlocks and all) just started playing automatically. I have since tried to find these interviews again with no luck. Anybody have a clue where to access these? He sure did ask some poignant questions, he did!