Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Stones return strong- musically and financially

At this point, no one but a hardcore fan should notice or care that the Rolling Stones have a new album out. They wisely schedule a tour around it so it might become news. Since the late '60s, they've devised a crafty idea to only do shows every few years to keep demand high. They can afford to do this since they have a built-in fan base and making people wait only whets their appetite to see their heros.

But the strange thing is that their new one, A Bigger Bang, is actually half a good record. It's not a great one and they're never going to put out anything that's going to change the music world (that's Radiohead's job right now). But just the fact that they can remember (with a lot of help from producer Don Was I bet) what made them great and recapture this on an album is news itself. "Rough Justice" does start things with a... bang but then they waffle around until the old-time bluesy "Back of My Hand" (Eric Clapton wishes he was this soulful at this point) and then give up a couple of good old-fashioned pieces of raunch. Charlie pounds out his 4/4 beat, Keith does his driving rhythm guitar bit and Mick mouths off- viola, classic Stones. Granted, they're not competing with a strong catalog when people say it's their best since Some Girls (is anyone going to defend Steel Wheels, Bridges to Babylon? Also recall that they don't exact keep up a regular release schedule nowadays). But just the fact that they can pull over even a couple of songs now that you would wanna hear in your MP3 player, car stereo or at home is pretty remarkable. It's nice to see that they still care, sometimes.

Not about their fans though. If you're a sucker enough to pay $100 to their fan club, you get the honor of then being first in line to pay top dollar for concert tix. The worst seats at their Madison Square Garden gig? $100. The best seats are over $450 (not including Ticketmaster's 'convenience charges') which means that a couple will dish out about a grand for the honor of seeing their heros up close, without binoculars. Compare that to Sir Elton who's also playing the Garden this month- the nosebleed seats are half the price of comparable ones for the Stones. It's supply and demand, right? When someone asked them at a press conference if they're in it for the moola, they laughed it off. Surely, it's obviously that they're already richer than we'll ever be but then why do they need to bilk their fans unless they think it'll prove that they're such a great commodity that they must charge them top dollar just to see them.

Strange that no one's pointed out how greedy these guys are. Maybe they don't expect any better from them nowadays? Maybe it's also because this isn't the first time that they've been accused of shaking down their fans. On their 1969 tour, they were pestered about the high prices for their shows. To answer the charges, they offered to do a live show at the end of the tour as a present to their fans. That would have been Altamont. Since we all know how that turned out, maybe it's just as well that they stay greedy bastards.


Post a Comment

<< Home