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.