September 9, 2004

Test Spin: The Rolling Stones

Print More

A royal rock conundrum: you want to cash in some more on your amazing legacy by issuing yet another greatest hits album, one covering your later (and less famous) material. But any kind of chronological compilation will demonstrate the exact logistics of your decline and fall. But you really want that money. What to do?

If you’re The Rolling Stones, simply continue to claim that your modern material is the equal of your youthful genius and stick tracks from Sticky Fingers throughout the entire compilation. Jump Back: The Best of the Rolling Stones ’71- ’93 manages to make witnessing the descent of the Stones from unfuckingbelieveable to mediocre less painful than it usually is.

The track order plays fast and loose with history, anchoring the center with Exile and the end with Some Girls, so we get to ignore almost the entirety of the unfortunate ’80s. There’s actually an intelligence behind the selection. We’re usually too busy drowning in Jagger’s honey and gravel voice and the masterful guitar weaving of Richards and Jones/Taylor/Wood to notice, but every Stones song is built from and around the bass and drums. Almost all the tracks on the album, from “Tumbling Dice” (tied with “Sweet Jane” for best song in the history of everything) to “Undercover,” are anchored by a syncopated line from Wyman and precision percussion from Watts.

This approach allows the freakish chordal complexity of “Mixed Emotions” and the warmth of “Waiting on a Friend” to shine.

The only thing keeping Jump Back from truly being a “best of” is the omission of “Slipping Away” — the best Stones song for five years in either direction — and the inclusion of the excretion that is “Angie” over the sublime “Winter.”

Archived article by Erica Stein
Red Letter Daze Staff Writer