Welcome to dad rock minute, a column where BTRtoday editor-in-chief Adam Bulger indulges his obsession with classic and near-classic rock.
My love for the Rolling Stones embarrasses me. I know it isn’t cool. They’re evolved into the Goldman Sachs of pop music, a vampiric and inescapable corporate institution that’s kept the world in a stranglehold for decades. Despite their advanced age and Keith Richards’ atrophied musical abilities, they charge thousands for concert tickets and monopolize oxygen rightfully belonging to younger generations of rock groups.
And while the Stones have a nearly unrivaled wealth of amazing songs, the tracks featured on classic rock radio often aren’t among them. And even on their almost uniformly stellar run in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, a clunker brings the dad rock party to a screeching halt. These 10 songs that help keep my Stones obsession in the closet.
10. “Gimme Shelter”
OK, I’ll admit I’m trolling a little with this one. “Gimme Shelter” isn’t bad at all. It’s pretty great, in fact. Amazing guitar, great groove, fun-but-sinister mood and both Mick and Merry Clayton kill it on vocals. Still, the song is far too familiar after 30 years of signaling menace in movies, commercials and TV shows.
9. “You Gotta Move”
When the Stones covered Mississippi Fred McDowell’s delta blues classic “You Gotta Move” for Sticky Fingers it became the worst song on their best album. While it probably sounded fine in the ‘60s, Jagger’s vocals sounds like a minstrel show performance today.
8. “Loving Cup”
“Loving Cup“ is just barely a Stones song. The hippy-dippy “beautiful buzz” lyrics lack the Stones’ signature edge and the wall-to-wall piano makes the song feel like the Stones are Nicky Hopkins backing band.
7. “Midnight Rambler”
Writing a song about a serial killer? Kind of try-hard edge lord, don’t you think?
6. The Choir at the Beginning of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”
Thanks to the boy’s choir opening, I spent decades as a Stones fan thinking “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” was one of their lesser hits. The angelic voices make the otherwise funky and agreeable tune feel pompous.
5. “Get Off Of My Cloud”
“Get Off of My Cloud” is an attempt to copy/paste “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” but instead of hooks, a driving beat and anger at the emptiness of consumer culture, it’s a herky jerky lament about haters dragging you down over a discount store Motown beat.
4. “Mixed Emotions”
The Stones’ 1989 “Mixed Emotions” comeback song was played incessantly on the radio at the time but has since been erased from history for obvious reasons: it seems designed to be forgotten.
3. “Start Me Up”
The opening chords and words of “Start Me Up” are so rousing that everybody forgets the rest of the song goes absolutely nowhere before the tedium is marginally interrupted by Mick Jagger saying “make a dead man come.”
2. “Has Anybody Seen My Baby”
By the time the Stones released “Has Anybody Seen my Baby” in 1997 they’d completely surrendered to their identity as a global corporate commodity. They do the minimum to sound contemporary, accidentally lift a melody from “Constant Craving” by K.D. Lang and make a video with international celebrity Angelina Jolie.
1. “It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll”
When classic rock radio plays the Stones, more often than not it’s this meandering slog. “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll” was a sign the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world was running low on gas and ideas. It’s the Stones chasing T. Rex and the wave of mid-‘70s glam who were chasing what The Stones did in the early ‘70s. I fully endorse the video’s jaunty sailor outfits, however.