“What’re we gonna do?! We’re 5% short of our targets for this quarter!” said the accountant. “Well, how about rush releasing a hasty compilation just in time for Christmas?” replied his pinstripe-clad comrade.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the integrity-strewn creative process behind the new Rolling Stones offering. With a career as long as theirs, you’d hope that all the live tracks, B-sides, remixes and assorted guff left on the cutting room floor might yield a few gems. And they do – but don’t we have perfectly adequate versions of “Wild Horses” and “Tumbling Dice” already?
Nonetheless, the fact that the best tracks here are the needless re-runs of already established classics just goes to prove that there’s normally a reason B-sides didn’t make the final cut. A few outtake curios from Exile On Main Street or Beggar’s Banquet might’ve been interesting, but tracks that weren’t even good enough for inclusion on 1997’s sub-par Bridges To Babylon? Wow Mr. Jagger, you’re really spoiling us. He (or more likely, the office teaboy) probably thought that the inclusion of some ropey blues covers was a real treat as well. It may have been during their enormo-dome live shows, but such self-indulgent pentatonic twiddling doesn’t come across quite as well on record. It doesn’t give you the chance to get up and stretch your legs in the aisle or nip to the bar, so what’s the point?
The same question could be asked of this whole album. It’s too esoteric for the middle-aged dinner party brigade, and the fans are best off holding out for a box set with some real meat. But it’ll keep the accountants happy and, at the end of the day, isn’t that what life’s all about?
More reviews and articles just like this on my music blog Bloody Awful Poetry.