Rolling Stones
" The Biggest Bang "
Blu Ray Disc Vine

Blueswax 9
Rating 8

Once Bad-Boys Mellow Backstage, But Rock On Mightily!, (09/17/09)

The Rolling Stones' The Biggest Bang Blu-Ray video features more than three hours of stunning video and dynamite clear audio. There are thirty songs included, the bulk of which come from their Austin, Texas, Zilker Park performance, plus concert snippets from Italy, China, South America, and Japan. Many elements about this recording fascinated me, as these once vagabond bad boys have mellowed, but have maintained their tour-de-force playing skills and on-stage energy. Make no doubt about it, from their necks up they've obviously aged, but this physically lean and mean high-powered band shows no signs of slowing down, plus their chops are still at near the peaks of their abilities.

Why have they mellowed? On the "Salt of the Earth Documentary" portion, there's a lot of backstage and behind the scenes footage of the Stones meeting their fans and other artists from around the world, and the mood is absolutely laidback. Plus, the Stones have grown to become very accommodating. For example, in a performance from Milan, Italy, Jagger sings in Italian. When they visited China, they contacted the country's most successful rock & roller and rehearsed and performed with him. In Texas they covered (to the delight of the fans) Waylon Jennings' "Bob Wills Is Still the King."

They commented about the zaniness and party atmosphere when they visited Rio and Buenos Aires, but there were no visible signs or commentary about them wanting join in with the festivities. Still, they rocked on mightily. Additionally, there are many interesting segments where the band is discussing which songs might work best for the countries in which they performed.

So, it looks like the Stones have grown up and have at least mentally aged gracefully. They want to put their best feet forward and deliver to the people what they want. I guess there's the feeling of how much time is left for them to still have the ability to perform at the level they desire. But don't let my Stones mellowed-down comments deter you. Their on-stage prowess is still potent and powerful. Check out Jagger's strut like a man half his age as well as his vocal abilities. Bassist Daryl Jones is an excellent addition who locks in smartly with Charlie Watts, as are the supporting background singers, horn section, and the always wonderful Chuck Leavell on various keyboards. But instrumentally it's mostly about the guitars. Ron Wood and Keith Richards certainly can read each other's minds, often melding their lead solos, and rhythm playing with telepathic certainty and boundless energy.

Highlights include revamped and re-arranged versions of "Let's Spend the Night Together," "She's So Cold," "Sway," an ultra funky "Ain't Too Proud To Beg," and "Tumblin' Dice." Richards takes the microphone for two tunes, but the one that works best is "Little T&A." The show is crafted smartly as the slower segments are often segued with up-tempo tunes, but during the last quarter of the set these elderly gentlemen kick into octane overdrive with the likes of "Sympathy For the Devil," "Jumpin' Jack Flash," "Satisfaction," and encore with "Brown Sugar." It's all a rush and demonstrates that the Stones are still one of the greatest rock & roll bands on the planet.

If you are looking for a little flashback hit of roots rock and roll, look no further, as I doubt this disc will offend any Blues lover. And come to think of it, which other commercially viable band did more to help Blues music? Okay, perhaps Clapton, but you have to give it to the Stones for their Blues support and contributions. So, there you have it, after five decades not only do you get to enjoy a phenomenal performance, you also receive some insight into what makes these Rolling Stones tick. It's all highly entertaining, sometimes emotional, but it's all well aged rock & roll. This superbly produced photographic journey and audio transfer is highly recommended listening and viewing. Enjoy.

Bob Putignano: