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Published: 2014/03/11
by Brian Robbins

Sticky Fingers
Like A Rolling Stone

Capitol

It’s a piece of work – it really is: the opening seconds are a bit of sweet and wistful late-night bass work, way up high on the neck, supported by gentle acoustic guitar and shimmering keys. The bass retreats to allow the acoustic guitar to step into the foreground, all snuzzly with the keyboard … and just when you expect someone to reach over to the nightstand and turn the light off –

WHAM!

A big ol’ honkin’ chord hits; and you can’t help but wonder – just from that one chord – if it isn’t … yes! That follow-up suspended chord has gotta be :::KEITH!::: fo’ sho’; and as the guitars begin to snap and growl, eager to be unleashed, there’s another

WHAM!

as the drummer hits the 1 like it was the last drumbeat on Earth and you hear two words:

“Yeah – alright!

with enough drawl and swagger applied to get at least a half-dozen syllables out of the two words and you just know that voice belongs to :::MICK!::: and by the time that all registers, the whole band is rolling and tumbling like the old days, nasty horns and all.

Holy shit: new tunes from the Stones? Old treasure unearthed from the vault?

Would you believe: neither?

The track is “I Miss The Good Times” from the album Like A Rolling Stone – the best Stones album the Stones themselves never played on.

That Keef-as-Keef-gets guitar is none other than Mr. Richards’ wingman in the X-Pensive Winos, Waddy Wachtel. Keep digging into the album credits and you’ll find good ol’ Bobby Keys on sax, who’s been a part of Stones history since the Let It Bleed sessions; keyboardist Ian McLagan, who’s been there and back himself with the Stones; and Bernard Fowler, who’s been adding his vocal muscle to the Stones sound for years. The undeniable shake-your-butt rhythms throughout are courtesy of rock ‘n’ roll vets Kenny Aaronson on bass and Kenny Aronoff on drums.

And what about that voice – that voice? Well, that would be Glen Carroll, boys and girls: a longtime master of Mr. Jagger’s sound and vibe – but pulling it off with the right blend of bawdy Mickness and rock ‘n’ roll soul as opposed to mimicry.

Carroll formed the original Sticky Fingers tribute band in 1989, made up of other players who admired the Stones sound and onstage hoodoo. The band’s talents led them to gigs around the world, and eventually found them crossing the paths of the Rolling Stones family. Paying his dues with fierce dedication to creating the vibe of a vintage Rolling Stones performance in a live setting, Carroll’s talents earned the respect of players such as Keys, Wachtel, McLagan and Fowler – and the recording sessions for Like A Rolling Stone ended up being the work of a supergroup with strong family ties to the Glimmer Twins themselves.

While the aforementioned “I Miss The Good Times” is the loaded-for-bear single off the album – packed with everything from McLagan’s two-fisted piano and powerful soloing by Keys and Wachtel to classic Exile -style barroom chorus vocals – there’s also plenty of music on Like A Rolling Stone that could easily be mistaken for just-leaked bootlegged Stones material from various periods.

The album opener “One Way Street” and the fiery “As Good As It Gets” both have a Steel Wheels vibe, while “Her Very Last Time” could be a kiss-off from the Some Girls era. The country rocker “White Roses” (which gets right down to bizness with the line “I can’t send you white roses with your husband hangin’ ‘round”) combines the soul of “Sweet Virginia” with the twang of “Faraway Eyes”; “Lady Blue” and “At First Sight” both nail that Jaggeresque mix of broken heart and cool; and tunes such as “Christine” and “You Baby You” acknowledge Chuck Berry’s standing as the granddaddy of rock ‘n’ roll geetar. (Bo Diddley gets his nod with “Tribute”.)

Whether you want to close your eyes and pretend this is a lost Stones album from an alternate parallel universe or take it for what it is, Like A Rolling Stone is a great album that stands on its own two legs. Possibly the album’s oddest moment is a run-through of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” – which basically asks the musical question, “What would it sound like if the Stones covered this Dylan tune?” … and even then, it’s a solid performance.

So get your head around the fact that no matter who these folks sound like, they play some wicked rock ‘n’ roll – and most of it is original material, to boot.

Jonesing for some new Stones? Until the day comes – if it does – that Mick and Keith lead the rest of the gang back into the studio for one more go at it, Glen Carroll and Sticky Fingers are just what the doctor called for.

*****

Brian Robbins lives in an alternate parallel universe over at www.brian-robbins.com.

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