Yes, they may be old and yes, their best music is decades behind them, but with their newest release, the Rolling Stones have proven one thing – they can still rock.

Unlike their last release eight years ago, “Bigger Bang,” is a quality and consistent work. There is no studio sounding gloss of the Stones work of the past – this entire album plays tribute to their blues and rhythm roots.

Back is the sex and gram – a bit weird given the fact everyone in the band could be my grandfather, but nonetheless, the sound equals a total band effort – heard for the first time in a while – with the locked rhythm pounding on each and every track.

The band’s age is demonstrated on the politically inspired track “Sweet Neo Con” whose lack of gloss leaves no doubt to whom the song is about. This is a rare move into the world of politics for a band who dared to enter this world only on a few songs in 40-some years and tip-toeing the issues at best when they did. The track shows that with age comes wisdom. But, thankfully, the album is not all wisdom, but mostly kick ass.

Not to be out done, another elder statesman of the music world, – one forever linked with the Stones – also released an album harkening to his groundbreaking past. Paul McCartney’s “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard” is a solo album in the truest sense, with McCartney playing virtually every instrument on the album. Bring in producer Nigel Godrich – Beck and Radiohead – and you are granted a recipe for renewed success.

While the Stones get back to their rock roots, McCartney attacks the listener with the same veracity, but not with the same volume. Most of the tracks are spare and haunting, like his best work both with and without The Beatles. The work is surreal and impeccable, ushering in a possible new wave of a career many thought had faded.

In a way, McCartney’s work is all about fading and growing, which is captured by the eerie non-rock elements of the work giving way to the seldom yet powerful rock infused car riffs.

In true McCartneyism, what stays is love and what fades is basically everything else, harking back to his own lyric, “All you need is love.”

This is what all music, but especially rock music, which has been slumped in a traumatic haze in recent memory, has needed – a fresh start from some of its founders. If these guys, men in their sixties, can do it, maybe all the young, pretending whippersnappers can as well.

I, for one, hope they can.

Allard can be reached at dallard@campustimes.org.



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