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CD Reviews:  Mick Jagger: Goddess in the Doorway

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An old friend and fellow music companion once told me to be very weary of those albums whose best song or hit single is the opening track on the record. Unfortunately for those expecting a whole lot more from Mick Jagger's first solo release since 1993's Wandering Spirit, the first song on Goddess in the Doorway is the radio-ready "Visions of Paradise," and it's arguably the best this new project has to offer.

Jagger's legion of loyal fans will not, however, be disappointed with this fresh, ultra-high fidelity, over-the-top collection of pumped up rock sonnets, dance club ditties and signature ballads. "God Gave Me Everything" flat out rocks, with Lenny Kravitz's flailing guitar and backup vocals. "Hide Away" enlists the production help of Wyclef Jean, and flirts with a South American tempo and Spanish guitar to result in something that could have been accidentally left off the Rolling Stones' Tattoo You record from 1981. Weaker moments do exist here, as Jagger's clumsy songwriting ruins the title track, "Goddess in the Doorway" -- "Demons in the bedroom, dogs are on the roof / I am in the basement, looking for the truth" -- and proves that even the 58-year-old Jagger is not immune to the dreaded writer's block. But the truly lame segments of this project are small, and Joe Perry's stunning guitar work on "Everybody Getting High" kicks things back into a rock-and-roll gear. Meanwhile, it's the vintage Mick Jagger ballad that really keeps this album afloat. "Don't Call Me Up" and "Brand New Set of Rules" are just magnificent! The latter even features Mick's daughter, Elizabeth, on backing vocals. 

One would be tempted to drool all over this new record, what with the all-star cameos from Bono, Lenny Kravitz, Joe Perry and Pete Townsend, not to mention some of the finest mixers in the business (Tom Lord-Alge and Jack Joseph Puig). All things considered at this late stage of his career, Jagger probably has over-achieved here. But with the measuring stick having been raised so very high through the past four decades, the case could also be made that what Mick has produced with Goddess is simply average.

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