CD Review: Rolling Stones – Shine A Light (Universal)

Note: I originally passed up reviewing this CD when it first came out because I couldn’t stomach this musical abortion but I have recently seen it being talked about as one of the top ten CD releases of the year and it took me over an hour to stop retching. So, I’ve decided I must review this steaming turd for your displeasure. So, enjoy my dancing about architecture about this little shiny piece of garbage. I will try to be as nice as I can.

I could be cruel and say the only light shining on the Rolling Stones right now is the light a person is supposed to walk towards when they die, but once upon a time they used to be my favorite band so I will let the joke pass. Jokes like these, however, are getting easier and easier to make as The Rolling Stones slide ever closer to being the darlings of the geriatric set. While they still put on a great show and it is fashionable to slag them, I am wondering why they don’t hang it up. If I could re-write their story, I would have seen them break up for good after the band’s Steel Wheels album (the last album they have made that is anywhere near decent) and tour. Then, I would have them pursue solo careers for at least fifteen or twenty years until right about now, where I would have them reunite for one last album or tour and then fade into the ether once and for all. The time away would have added to their legend and made fans miss them. Most of their fans don’t know a world without the band in it. In fact, last year was the band’s 45th anniversary! Can you believe that? Not bad for a band, but terribly ancient for a rock and roll aggregation.

This is yet another Rolling Stones comp, albeit for a barely decent concert movie shot by Martin Scorsese, one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema. It’s easy to see what the deal was with this project: The Stones were trying to shoot something as definitive as The Band’s movie The Last Waltz, also helmed by Scorsese. Unfortunately, The Band were at their peak when they decided to split and though The Rolling Stones still carry a lot of mystique and their live show is admittedly excellent, as a band capable of coming up with something new and vital, their day is long past. The soundtrack (and movie) attempts to gather a lot of The Stones B-material in hopes of giving fans something out of the ordinary and also juicing up some of their lesser known songs and giving them new life. While the performances for the most part are okay, it’s just more and more apparent how much the Stones are reaching. They’ve accomplished everything a band could and yet they don’t have enough savvy to finish their story and ride into the sunset. While a small part of me is glad they won’t give up, a larger part of me is sad they can’t see how much they are tarnishing the legacy they have established.

Only a true completist would need this CD. I can see most die-hard fans just shrugging their shoulders at this point. After all the shilling the band has done for their last round of tours and all the live DVDs and collections they have put out over the past few years with very little new material to speak of it just smacks of greed. And The Stones were already the greediest band around, like coming up with the first world tour sponsorship deal with fragrance maker Jovan in the early ’80’s amongst other rock and roll travesties. Any real fan already has the original albums and probably most of the umpteen live albums the Stones have done over the years. Enough’s enough.