CD Review of Shine a Light by Rolling Stones
Recommended if you like
Rod Stewart, the Faces, the Animals
Label
Polydor/Interscope
Rolling Stones: Shine a Light

Reviewed by R. David Smola

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S
hine a Light, the soundtrack to the Martin Scorsese concert film of the Rolling Stones joins 1982’s Still Life, 1991’s Flashpoint, 1995’s Stripped, and 1998’s No Security as fairly recent documents of the Stones’ live act. This doesn’t include the 1996 release of The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, which was a live show from 30 years ago with Lennon and the Who. The point is that their live act has been put to record quite a bit, so do we need another live set from them?

The record contains versions of Stone staples like “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Shattered,” “Brown Sugar,” and “Start Me Up.” These are solid versions that feature the band giving it a solid go with ample exuberance and panache. The album’s merits lie in the collaborations with guest artists and the stellar versions of songs like “She Was Hot” (from 1983’s Undercover) and a fabulous version of the Temptation’s “Just My Imagination.” “All Down the Line” also sizzles with the brilliant time keeping of Master Charlie Watts. One of the greatest things about listening to a live Stones album mixed at the highest quality is being able to hear the skills of the incredibly steady drum technician. Watts’ playing on this record is solidly fabulous. He never seems to make mistakes and is the rock of that band, which, on this album, features eight additional musicians alongside Jagger, Watts, Wood, Richards and bassist Darryl Jones.

Rolling Stones

The jewels of this release are the three collaborations: Jack White on “Loving Cup,” who sounds as if he is having the time of his life hamming it up with the ageless Mick Jagger, Buddy ‘Motherfucker’ Guy (as Jagger so eloquently announces) on a ripping version of “Champagne & Reefer,” and the talented Christina Aguilera on “Live With Me.” The Divine Ms. A stands toe to toe with the greatest front man in the history of music and sings the piss out of the song while Richards riffs it up. These three tracks make the album worth adding to your collection.

Why does the guitarist have to sing one song? Jagger probably needs a blow from his two-hour aerobic workout, but can’t we get a Charlie Watts drum solo, or Bernard Fowler singing a song? No, we have to put up with the absolutely shot voice of Keith Richards. Yechhhhh! “Connection” is 3:38 of pure torture. There are several points in the song when I thought a dog got caught in a bear trap as Richards tried to yelp out the higher notes. Please, please, put this horrible custom out to pasture. Other than that horrible misstep, this is a good record that sounds excellent.

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