June 2004: La Fourchette (Mick Jagger's home studio), Pocé sur Cisse, France
August-September 2004: La Fourchette, Pocé sur Cisse, France & St. Vincent, West Indies

November-early December 2004: La Fourchette, Pocé sur Cisse, France
March 7-9, 2005: La Fourchette, Pocé sur Cisse, France
March 14-April 2005: La Fourchette, Pocé sur Cisse, France

June 6-28, 2005: Ocean Way Recording & Village Recorder Studios, Los Angeles, USA

Producers: Don Was & The Glimmer Twins
Chief engineer: Krish Sharma
Mixers: Krish Sharma, Jack Joseph Puig & D. Sardy
Release date: September 2005
Original label: Virgin Records

Contributing musicians: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ron Wood, Darryl Jones, Chuck Leavell, Matt Clifford, Blondie Chaplin, Don Was, Lenny Castro.

Rough Justice
Let Me Down Slow
It Won't Take Long
Rain Fall Down
Streets Of Love
Back Of My Hand
She Saw Me Coming
Biggest Mistake
This Place Is Empty
Oh No, Not You Again
Dangerous Beauty
Laugh, I Nearly Died
Sweet Neo Con
Look What The Cat Dragged In
Driving Too Fast


I'm not a great lover of the title for this tour and record, but what it conjures up is fantastic, and that's what sold me.

- Charlie Watts, July 2005



The magic of the band is when Mick and Keith are (writing) together. What would be wonderful is if they ever sat down together and started writing together from scratch.
- Charlie Watts, 2003

If we go out on tour, we gotta do a record. It shows you are an actual functioning rock band. I don't want to be one of those bands that just does hits. People say, I much prefer to hear Brown Sugar than some new song. Well, I don't give a shit what you prefer. If everyone else in the band had said, We can't be bothered, no one listens to our new records, fair enough. We can do more repackages (rolls his eyes). But everyone was up for it.
- Mick Jagger, 2005

We just started again. If we hadn't have had as much material, I would've probably, there was a couple in there I thought could've been really good, or we might want to rework them a little bit. But we never got to that, to be honest, 'cause we had so much stuff that was coming out.
- Mick Jagger, 2005, on why the Stones didn't go back
to the 2002 Licks recordings

It started in June last year, I went to Mick's house in France, and we sat around. And at the time Charlie was pretty ill, and we didn't know, and we were looking at each other across the couches going, Look, this is it. I go, Mick, you're on drums and I'll double on bass. In a way, we had to strip it down, and as it went along we realized that we had something going there and so we'd cut it all in Mick's house. There was a point I'm sure where he wanted to kick us out. But as I said to Mick, Listen, once upon a time, we cut a record in the South of France in my house, and it's called Exile On Main Street, and now it's your turn... Maybe we're good in French houses.
- Keith Richards, July 2005

There was a relaxed atmosphere making it. Some of it was home in France and the Bahamas - it was all small rooms and small technology. You have to work at it. There's always the inspirational moment and then there's the crafting but a lot of it, I found quite easy to write. I didn't write all this with Keith in the room. I like to write a lot of stuff on my own and I don't like people being around when I'm doing the lyrics. Keith always says they're in the air. They're not really, you have to make them up.
- Mick Jagger, August 2005

So I didn't go into a total tailspin. I just carried on making a record.... (I)t affected it insofar as we were worried about how he would be. But I knew he was going to be OK because I'd seen him in London and I'd done a little bit of rehearsing with Charlie on the new tunes and I knew he was going to be fine. The upside of it - the only upside - was that it gave Keith and I a little more time to work on some of the arrangements and things.
- Mick Jagger, August 2005, on finding out Charlie Watts was
battling cancer but with good prospects

We had OK'd the tour. (Charlie) was straight up about it: The doctor says I have a 90% chance of being completely cured. I would have been in such a state. If Charlie had said, I can't do this tour, I've faced mortality, we would have had to change our minds. No one pressured him. But the treatments couldn't have been easy. I kept worrying: Is he eating? I'm like a nanny.
- Mick Jagger, 2005

I didn't think of the Rolling Stones at all. Mick rang a few times: You have to get well. Don't worry about us. I was sorry not to be there when Mick and Keith were writing. In a way, it was fortuitous, because they were on their own. It was a lot of fun for them, to be together.
- Charlie Watts, July 2005

We got so used to sort of being apart when we're not on the road and we sort of write stuff separately while we're, I mean, I might be in Jamaica, he might be in Madagascar or something, you know what I mean? But at the same time, there is a sort of point where you pool everything you've got together and that's the point where I guess I look at Mick and I say, You know, here's this one. What've you got?
- Keith Richards, 2005

It was a reality check. Mick and I eyeballed one another and said, Jesus, no buffers. It's just you and me, pal. Throughout the past year, I've felt that Mick and I were working more closely than we have in a long while. And I think it has something to do with what Charlie went through.
- Keith Richards, July 2005, on starting without Ron Wood and Charlie Watts,
because of an addiction relapse and illness respectively

(We didn't have a plan to go back to basics.) We were kind of strapped for manpower, to tell the truth. Mick and I started putting this together last June. And at that same time we'd just gotten the news that Charlie was diagnosed with throat cancer. Mick and I were looking at each other going, Well pal, this is it. OK, you're on drums and I'll double on bass. Thank God it didn't come to that. But we did start off that way.
- Keith Richards, July 2005

What it really was is, you know, Keith and I started doing a lot of stuff just on our own, and then we were just having a laugh with a lot of it. I'd already written quite a lot of material, and Keith had written some, so it wasn't like we start from nothing.
- Mick Jagger, July 2005

(Mick and Keith) didn't just hang out together in the studio. They went out to dinner. They enjoyed each other's company.
- Don Was, August 2005

(Charlie's illness) pulled (Mick and I) together quicker than I would have expected. Because the man does like to keep his distances. On the basic level of putting songs together, it made us play together more, on guitars and piano. Mick, as a guitar player, has finally gotten there... He's also a good drummer - not in a technical sense. But he's got a great beat, good feel.
- Keith Richards, July 2005

There was quite a lot of (Keith and I together alone). But we have done it before. This was just extended because Charlie wasn't there. I felt Keith always wanted Charlie there too early in the process. It's much better if you've worked it all out, so that when he gets there you say, This is how it goes and it's not hit and miss.
- Mick Jagger, July 2005

I've been writing new songs for the Rolling Stones' next album. We just started, and it will be out sometime next year. We'll start recording in November. It should be good. I've been writing the last month for that, and I'm quite excited by what I've got so far.
- Mick Jagger, September 2004

I just spent two weeks writing songs with Keith and some days they're all songs where I'm there on my own, and Keith walks in and paints the face on what I've written. And some days it's the reverse, and I go in, play the piano on something.
- Mick Jagger, October 2004

The ones I laid on (Mick) were Rough Justice, Infamy, and This Place Is Empty. So it's kind of half and half. Mick comes in far more prepared than I do.
- Keith Richards, July 2005

It's never the same from one song to another. I'm very different from Keith. I like everything organized. I love it when things go wonky and funny, but I want to move forward. I don't want to sit around waiting for shit to happen. This is how it goes, these are the words. Should it be fast or slower? Do you like it or not? This time, I got into this thing where Keith would have an idea and I would put a drum program to it. Then I'd play drums over that, create a groove.
- Mick Jagger, July 2005

Necessity put it together. Mick got on drums. I doubled on bass. We sent songs to Charlie while he was recuperating. It's been years since Mick and I worked this closely together.
- Keith Richards, July 2005

Mick's on bass, harp, piano and guitar. I'm on everything except the harp. It was a good feeling.
- Keith Richards, July 2005

I was playing drums and all that sort of stuff I usually never do and that was fun. So it was very different. Happily for the fans, my drums never made it on the record apart from one or two little hits that were saved. Keith and I were just having a laugh with a lot of it.
- Mick Jagger, July 2005

Keith was very supportive of my songwriting, guitar-playing, bass-playing, drumming.
- Mick Jagger, July 2005

(Mick and I) were sitting across the table looking at each other, like, You. Me. That's all there is. It was all built on two acoustic guitars, and in such a sparse and stripped-down way that if you tried to elaborate on it later you'd lose the whole essence of it.
- Keith Richards, July 2005

I think, actually, yeah, (Charlie's illness) brought Mick right down to the solid ground again, that's my take on it. It's just that there's suddenly Mick and I looking at each other and going, possibly we're the only two left of the originals, you know what I mean? And I think that gave, without us every actually talking about that - you don't talk about that shit, you know? Count on Charlie to be all right and, fantastically enough, Charlie is incredibly on form. So that sort of softened that. But at the same time I think it was, like, Well, this is it pal, this is the Everly Brothers. But at the same time none of us had any doubt that Charlie wouldn't... I mean he's made of cast iron.
- Keith Richards, July 2005

Mick would not have played the bass for any other reason than we didn't have a bass player around at the time. And I guess we were feeling that if there's no Charlie, we had to rethink what we could do, even if it was just because he wasn't there for now.
- Keith Richards, July 2005

I played a lot of stuff. I always play a bit of keyboards, but not so much this time because the record doesn't have a lot of keyboards on it. I did play some bass. I've never done that before. I kept looking at it and going, Four strings, that can't be that difficult. Ha! So that was all interesting.
- Mick Jagger, August 2005

(The idea was: c)oncentrate on what you're doing. No fucking about or jamming for days. I thought, We can't do this album the way we've been doing them, spending months in a studio with hundreds of people. It's difficult, expensive and not much fun.
- Mick Jagger, July 2005

We were in such a confined space - some of it was in France, some of it in the Caribbean - without loads of hangers-on. There was nowhere to hide. Is it good? Is is not good? Then bung it out the window. There were no three-hour blues jams. There wasn't time.
- Mick Jagger, July 2005

(I)t's also a very small group, there's no hiding place if there's only three of you in the room. You know if you have the groove or not.
- Mick Jagger, July 2005

Mick and Keith are writing songs together in a collaborative fashion that probably hasn't been seen since the late '60s. I would say that longtime fans of the Rolling Stones will be thrilled with these results, and new fans will understand why they're the greatest rock and roll band in the world.
- Don Was, December 2004

It's probably the cloest that Mick and I have worked together since Exile on Main Street. Which says it all.
- Keith Richards, August 2005

It was clear from the first day of recording that the Rolling Stones, the band rather than the individuals who comprise it, came into focus on this album.
- Don Was, July 2005

(T)his all seems to be of a piece so far, and is substantially different than anything I've worked on with them. It's really collaborative. It's not done. We can still fuck it up a thousand ways, you know? But what I'm hearing now is very much in the great Stones tradition.
- Don Was, December 2004

I know what (Don Was) means, you know, he just wants everyone to work together and I said, of course we're going to work together, but there's a lot of times when it was just me and Keith and Charlie and we all work together pretty good. And then a lot of times we put Ronnie on afterwards and Keith and I have played a lot of bass, and that was kind of fun.
- Mick Jagger, July 2005

(Don Was) is always worried the songs won't sound like the Rolling Stones. I don't care if it sounds like them - us. It would be an achievement if it didn't.
- Mick Jagger, July 2005

(I)t's certainly stripped down. I just wanted it to be an album where everybody could play together. With this one, we had a minimal amount of people on most of the basic tracks. With just Keith and myself and Charlie, we could knock off five songs in a day and redo them as if we were playing them live, songs like Rough Justice and Oh No, Not You Again. But there are other songs, more concentrated stuff like Rain Fall Down and Laugh, I Nearly Died, that are more created sounds of the studio.
- Mick Jagger, August 2005

Nobody says, What kind of album are we trying to make? We just sit down and check out riffs and songs and ideas that we've got. In a strange kind of way, albums can take on their own personality. This one said to us, Don't put on the violins. Forget the marzipan and candles and icing and just leave me alone. And for once we obeyed.
- Keith Richards, August 2005

We did this record with minimal technology, just suitcases of computers. I didn't want to go into a massive glass-and-stone $10 million studio with all the bells and whistles. All that technology can change the way you play. We pared it down, and the intimacy worked.
- Mick Jagger, July 2005

You can make a record anywhere now. The studio isn't so important. In fact, we don't use studios. We just find a good room that's handy for everyone to get to. Most of this album was done at Mick's house in France. The machinery was inside the room with us. The producer, Don Was, and the engineer - they were in the room with us. So you get rid of that glass barrier between the studio and control room, which can be enormous at times. I know from all those years of working in huge studios. You do your thing in the studio, then you go into the control room for a playback and you're on another planet. They're not getting it in there! So it's much better to do it with the recorders actually in the room, and you can do that these days. The equipment is smaller. You can separate things easier without having to put big booths around them. We just played in a small room for most of this album.
- Keith Richards, July 2005

Only Mick still thinks you have to take things into "real" recording studios to really make a real record. He got proved totally wrong on our latest - at the time of writing - album, A Bigger Bang, especially, because we did it all in his little château in France. We had got the stuff worked up, and he said, Now we'll take it into a real recording studio. And Don Was and I looked at each other, and Charlie looked at me... Fuck this shit. We've already got it down right here. Why do you want to spring for all that bread? So you can say it was cut in so-and-so studio, the glass wall and the control room? We ain't going nowhere, pal. So finally he relented.
- Keith Richards, Life (2010)

We kicked off this album on a small scale and we kept it like that all the way through. There's nobody on it except the band. This album said, Don't elaborate on me. Make me small and I'll give you a big one.
- Keith Richards, August 2005

(Mick)'s a great drummer. He's also playing a lot of guitar, and he's a really good guitar player. He's been playing bass on some things, Keith is playing bass on some things. They're just great - there's a reason that they've been the Rolling Stones for so long. And they can do it four times a day, every day, and they're really good songs. I've never seen anything like it.
- Don Was, December 2004

When Charlie got there, you'd show him how it went with me playing the drums and tell him he better do something better than that. That's me doing you, OK (laughs). Only one of my drum bits survived but my beats survived.
- Mick Jagger, August 2005

(Charlie)'s playing like a lion.
- Don Was, December 2004

(Charlie's) on all of them. But we started off working songs out with Mick on drums. And Mick's a pretty good drummer, you know? He's got a wicked backbeat, and luckily he doesn't have a lot of flash, so he just sticks to the beat. We worked up the songs that way. Then Charlie came back and we were able to say, OK, Charlie, it goes like this. And he came back like a ball of fire. Amazing. I guess he wanted to prove that he was still alive and kicking.
- Keith Richards, July 2005

I don't think that, between us, there was any doubt that Charlie would beat (cancer). I wondered how long and debilitating it might be, which Charlie answered in spades when he came back. He looked exactly the same, like he hadn't done anything more than comb his hair and puit a suit on... When he came in, we were still running down songs, rehearsing. You don't usually go into fifth gear in rehearsal. You lay back a little. But Charlie came in as if to prove I'm back. He played every rehearsal like a show.
- Keith Richards, July 2005

(Mick and Keith are) getting on very well at the moment. I think it was the way this record was done - simply. Even when I came back, it was simple. For a while it was just the three of us.
- Charlie Watts, July 2005

(Ronnie)'s on just about every track. There are a few tracks that Mick and I basically did together with just Charlie, but that's not unusual.
- Keith Richards, July 2005

In the studio, (Keith and I are) not in the same room together. I'm usually with Mick and Don Was. Keith will often do his bits first. But One-Take Ronnie - that's what they call me. I'm always better on the first take. They'll play me the song, then they'll play it again for me to play on, and I'll do my thing: a lick here, a lick there, and sometimes bring in the slide. The new album was so improvised. I did all my overdubs in four days.
- Ron Wood, July 2005

(Mick's) harp playing blew me away all year. He's Louis Armstrong on that. Also his guitar playing is a lot better. He did a lot of rhythm guitar on this album. There's a lot of three-guitar stuff there - Ronnie, Mick and me. That's been interesting. Mick is a lot more proficient on guitar now. If he wants to play, I say, Play! I'd never be the guy to say, Stop it. Forget about it... (H)e's finally starting to get the electric stuff down. Realizing that it's a different instrument than acoustic, especially if you want to use effects and stuff like that... We're slow learners.
- Keith Richards, July 2005

(I)t was a better vibe than last time but you never know why that is. We weren't only in my house in France but wherever we were, yes it was (kept simple). We were in places where there wasn't a lot of distraction. And there wasn't a lot of sort of hangers on and all that sort of thing. If you record in the studio in L.A., for instance, like we'd done before in the past, you do get a lot of distractions and you do get a lot of hangers on. So there wasn't any distraction, so we just got on and did what we did with this small group of people and we were very focused.
- Mick Jagger, July 2005

The record ain't finished yet but it sounds promising, everybody's happy.
- Keith Richards, early 2005

The songs are kind of relevant, hard hitting, insidious and contemporary, yet classy.
- Mick Jagger, early 2005

My idea..., which I discussed with Don (Was), was I like all kinds of different music, popular and otherwise, but I do think it's very important to do great rock tunes, to provide the essential core and, you know, a couple of great ballads, but not too many ballads because I don't like too much. I like the very good ones and then I don't want anything mediocre. And then outside of that, there's other strands of the musical themes that I like to touch on. You know, dance music and country music, and just about anything, so as long as you've got that central core you can go outside it and no one is unhappy.
- Mick Jagger, July 2005

We tried to make this album a direct album, very simple as far as lyrics and ideas are concerned.
- Mick Jagger, May 2005

(T)here's a lot of stuff like personal stuff, but it's leavened with a lot of humor and odd rhymes and things to keep it (from getting) too serious. And there's other stuff... which is perhaps more serious...
- Mick Jagger, July 2005

Of course, you are as vulnerable as anyone else. It's crazy to think someone can't be hurt just because he's famous or he struts across a stage. If you go back through Stones albums, I'm sure you'll find vulnerability along with the swagger. It may not have been as easy to see, though, because it's not my temperament to share that feeling. I've often hid my feelings with humor. This time the songs were written very quickly, and I was in a certain frame of mind. I thought about some of the words afterward to see whether they were too personal, but I decided to just let them stay. Keith was very encouraging... Translating that vulnerability into a song is very cathartic for you. You have to write it down and examine it and decide what you wanted to share. There's something in the process that helped me get past the hurt.
- Mick Jagger, August 2005,
on the lyrics

I thought it was about time (Mick) owned up and stepped out of that closed shell. I know he went through bad periods, even if he didn't want to write about it. I used to wrestle with that too. As a writer, you don't want to bore people with your own story. But you eventually realize that you're not the only one who is lonely or having problems.
- Keith Richards, August 2005

When you're young, you tend to be angry a lot. Later, you're able to express diverse emotions. I do draw from my life. But sometimes I don't know who it's about. And you have to be inventive. You draw on memories, you observe other people, and you embroider.
- Mick Jagger, July 2005

It's a mixture of your diary amd creative imagination. That's what being a writer is about. Totally autobiographical songs are cringe-y. Teenage girls love that shit. When Britney broke up with Justin and he did that tune, my daughter was explaining to me, You see the scene in the video? That actually happened, Dad. If I wrote about what my life is really about, directly and on the money, people would cringe.
- Mick Jagger, July 2005

There is a lot of humour on this album, even in Sweet Neo Con which is a very direct song. There are some really heartfelt songs but there's only so much you can lay on an audience without starting to sound a bit maudlin. It is a very English thing to temper that with a sense of humour. You don't get that in French or Italian songs. The Australians understand it... For me, it's more fun. Don't you hate that, when people use songs to do their therapy?
- Mick Jagger, August 2005

We're having a great time recording.
- Mick Jagger, May 2005

The record company felt (the album) was too long. But I said, What's the favorite Rolling Stones album of all time? - Well, Exile On Main Street. - There, you see? Exile. And how long is that? - It's over an hour. - And the problem is? - Uh, nothing.
- Mick Jagger, July 2005

It's been eight years (since Bridges to Babylon). At sixteen songs, that's just two a year.
- Keith Richards, September 2005



(It'll be) very vibrant and very contemporary, yet hard-hitting... classical Rolling Stones.

- Mick Jagger, May 2005

We tried to make it very wide-ranging and we tried to make it very hard-hitting, but it's got its sensitive moments.

- Mick Jagger, May 2005

I think that the songs are very varied and there is a lot of very different musical content. And a lot of different emotional content. I think it's a pretty well-rounded piece, if I say that myself!

- Mick Jagger, August 2005

It's easier to write about conflict. Try writing I'm at peace with the world in a rock tune. See where that gets you. But if you went into some country singer's songbook, you'd find a lot more heartache than in the Rolling Stones.

- Mick Jagger, July 2005

It kicks some ass.

- Keith Richards, May 2005

A lot of our studio stuff is too overdubbed. (But this) is a very basic record, and I hope people like it, because it will make us do another one like it.

- Charlie Watts, July 2005

A lot of people say this track reminds them of Exile or that one reminds them of Between The Buttons, or whatever. But (what) they are talking about, more than specific albums, is that these songs capture the spirit that they like about the Rolling Stones. And I wanted that spirit back too. In this band, it's almost a necessity to have new songs we are excited about, otherwise we go out like the Beach Boys and just play the old favorites. Please, no.

- Keith Richards, August 2005

You get too close to it (to evaluate it). You have to wait for the reaction. So far I gotta believe (the praise) because nobody has said anything else so it must be cool. For a little while when you've finished them... I wonder.

- Keith Richards, 2005

This is Charlie Watts' finest album. If you listen to the drumming, it's as if he came back and said, A minor flesh wound!

- Keith Richards, July 2005

I like hit albums, hit singles, hit anythings. You just want people to hear what you've done. We're pretty excited about this record, we think there's really good stuff on it.

- Mick Jagger, July 2005

The band is really getting into these songs. I think maybe because we did start the album off in such a Me and Mick area, the stuff is eminently playable onstage. Everybody's really up for it.

- Keith Richards, 2005

There is a certain feeling on this one, an excitement. There were no huge obstacles to overcome, like, What about that tuba part? These songs lend themselves to live work. They are beautifully ready to play, and everybody's ready to play them.

- Keith Richards, July 2005

We all like it and now we'll see what the critics think and so far people have said they like it but whether you write that is an entirely different matter. Critics don't tend to write unqualified reviews. And then there's the public acceptance which is kind of hard because I'm not really sure if anyone's going to be that interested. A lot of Rolling Stones people like the old material and are not really interested in what you're doing now. Or maybe they didn't like what you did last time, so fair enough, they're not interested. What we've gone and done is make a Rolling Stones album.

- Mick Jagger, August 2005

Yeah, we got some good reviews for that. A lot of times we put out a studio album for starters and people are like, Forget about it. I think it's a pretty good record and people responded accordingly, you know. We like to think it works really good. When I listened to it in the end, I thought, Yeah, that's pretty good.

- Mick Jagger, November 2005

(W)e have a special edition coming out that has the two (songs) we didn't put on there. They're pretty good as well. We finished eighteen, and it was sort of difficult to leave them off.

- Mick Jagger, November 2005

There's some good stuff on there, but I don't know... There's something about the way it holds together, for me. I don't know if we got the tracks in the right order or something like that. Sometimes, it can make the difference on a record, the way it flows. But I enjoyed making it very much.

- Keith Richards, September 2015



Eight years separate 2005's A Bigger Bang, the Rolling Stones' 24th album of original material, from its 1997 predecessor, Bridges to Babylon, the longest stretch of time between Stones albums in history, but unlike the three-year gap between 1986's Dirty Work and 1989's Steel Wheels, the band never really went away. They toured steadily, not just behind Bridges but behind the career-spanning 2002 compilation Forty Licks...  (A) bigger surprise is that A Bigger Bang finds that reinvigorated band carrying its latter-day renaissance into the studio, turning in a sinewy, confident, satisfying album that's the band's best in years... (T)here is a big difference between this album and 1994's Voodoo Lounge. That album was deliberately classicist, touching on all of the signatures of classic mid-period, late-'60s/early-'70s Stones - reviving the folk, country, and straight blues that balanced their trademark rockers - and while it was often successful, it very much sounded like the Stones trying to be the Stones. What distinguishes A Bigger Bang is that it captures the Stones simply being the Stones, playing without guest stars, not trying to have a hit, not trying to adopt the production style of the day, not doing anything but lying back and playing. Far from sounding like a lazy affair, the album rocks really hard, tearing out of the gate with Rough Justice, the toughest, sleaziest, and flat-out best song Jagger and Richards have come up with in years. It's not a red herring, either - She Saw Me Coming, Look What the Cat Dragged In, and the terrific Oh No Not You Again, which finds Mick spitting out lyrics with venom and zeal, are equally as hard and exciting... A Bigger Bang doesn't succeed simply because the Stones are great musicians, it also works because this is a strong set of Jagger-Richards originals - naturally, the songs don't rival their standards from the '60s and '70s, but the best songs here more than hold their own with the best of their post-Exile work, and there are more good songs here than on any Stones album since Some Girls.

This may not be a startling comeback along the lines of Bob Dylan's Love and Theft, but that's fine, because over the last three decades the Stones haven't been about surprises: they've been about reliability. The problem is, they haven't always lived up to their promises, or when they did deliver the goods, it was sporadic and unpredictable. And that's what's unexpected about A Bigger Bang: they finally hold up their end of the bargain, delivering a strong, engaging, cohesive Rolling Stones album that finds everybody in prime form. Keith is loose and limber, Charlie is tight and controlled, Ronnie lays down some thrilling, greasy slide guitar, and Mick is having a grand time, making dirty jokes, baiting neo-cons, and sounding more committed to the Stones than he has in years. Best of all, this is a record where the band acknowledges its age and doesn't make a big deal about it: they're not in denial, trying to act like a younger band, they've simply accepted what they do best and go about doing it as if it's no big deal. But that's what makes A Bigger Bang a big deal: it's the Stones back in fighting form for the first time in years, and they have both the strength and the stamina to make the excellent latter-day effort everybody's been waiting for all these years. 4/5

- Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide, September 2005

Let's just get this out of the way: A Bigger Bang isn't a good Rolling Stones album considering their age. It isn't a good Rolling Stones album compared to their recent work. No, A Bigger Bang is just a straight-up, damn fine Rolling Stones album, with no qualifiers or apologies necessary for the first time in a few decades... Whether fueled by their notorious competitive camaraderie or inspired by their oldest mate's brush with mortality, the results sound like a genuine band effort - loose, scrappy and alive. A Bigger Bang recalls the best things about rough, underrated Stones albums like Dirty Work or Emotional Rescue, though it's also impressively consistent. The key here comes from surrendering to the groove. Most of the tracks are built around the incomparable spark that's lit when Keith's guitar and Charlie's drums lock into a rhythm. There's never been another team that can drive a band quite like these two, but on their post-Seventies work that magic has usually been buried in the mix. On hard-charging songs like It Won't Take Long or the rave-up single Rough Justice, the Stones reassert themselves as the World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band, and not just as the Greatest Show on Earth.

Mick and Keith have always said they want to grow old like the bluesmen they idolize, and on Bang they finally figure out how: The album revels in the Chuck Berry boogie and classic R&B pulse that's always been their lifeblood. The latter-day Glimmer Twins have often felt the need to coat their songs with layers of winking irony or studio gloss. Here, the dance-floor strut Rain Fall Down and the soul ballad Laugh, I Nearly Died are powerful because they're played straight, never turning cartoonish or mannered. Jagger's voice throughout is a knockout, deeper and more forceful than seems possible after forty-plus years of rocking the mike. The subject matter on A Bigger Bang, though, is thankfully a bit less mature. The album mostly sticks to familiar, nasty Stones territory: being heartbroken and breaking hearts, the evils that women (and, sometimes, men) do... Of course a disc that clocks in at sixty-four minutes (just two minutes less than Exile on Main Street) is too long. In their defense, there isn't a single track that's a real lemon... A Bigger Bang may not be a perception-shattering comeback like Bob Dylan's Time Out of Mind/Love and Theft combo, but by returning to their roots and embracing their age, the Rolling Stones have come up with an album that's a worthy successor to their masterworks. Jagger and Richards are still standing - grumpy old men, full of piss and vinegar, spite and blues chords, and they wear it well.  4.5/5

- Alan Light, Rolling Stone, September 2005

I'm obviously not to be trusted, since when I finally pulled out my vinyl on Dirty Work, which nobody else likes, I still loved its booming Steve Lillywhite Charlie, its studious chicken-scratch Keith, its bitterness and cynicism and spiritual desperation. On this one desperation is in remission. But despite its lack of an anthem to replace Start Me Up, it certainly beats Tattoo You or anything else going back to Exile except Some Girls. Long the weak link, Mick--come on: Keith and Charlie are gods, Ron is for sound effects, and Darryl Jones is an improvement--once again proves capable of relating on what we humans pathetically call a human scale. Not that I credit his "vulnerability," but I'm touched that he cares enough to lie about it. Together with clear evidence of prolonged cooperation between or among the principals (meaning two-man songwriting and a living groove, respectively), the effort suffices to provide or simulate the mattering considered so crucial in veteran bands. It also helps that the opener really rocks. As for the anti-Bush song, duh. Next time they should vet their corporate sponsor instead.  A-

- Robert Christgau, Consumer Guide (Village Voice), September 2005

(A) certain Carry On spirit seems to permeate much of the album, from the title to a Keith Richards number that reworks the old Kenneth Williams they've all got it infamy gag, to the question raised by Rough Justice: they've certainly pulled it out, but can men of their age keep it up for an hour? The answer is: almost... There's plenty of spirit here but, sadly, the songwriting runs out of puff long before the performances do, lending a hammy tone to the album's weaker moments... There is a sense of finality about A Bigger Bang. It may not be quite the blazing ship to Valhalla they intended, but then nor is it the unmarked grave you might expect. 3/5

- Alexis Petridis, The Guardian, September 2005

Throughout the Nineties, we got used to hearing that the latest Stones album was rather better than one might expect, despite the likes of Steel Wheels, Voodoo Lounge and Bridges to Babylon ultimately being regarded as little more than audio fly-posters for the band's latest globe-girdling tour, each ekeing out the usual one or two decent tracks with acres of half-hearted filler. So it's with a certain trepidation that I welcome A Bigger Bang as, yes, better than one might expect; a lot better, in fact - good enough to put on instead of reaching for the band's former glories again. Let's put it this way: if albums were still only 10 or 12 tracks long, and all the fat was trimmed from the 16 here, the result might well be fit to stand alongside Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed and Sticky Fingers. Which is about as good as it gets.  5/5

- Andy Gill, The Independent, September 2005

Un nouvel album tendu et accrocheur. Cette fois, inutile de faire semblant pour se convaincre, A Bigger Bang a de l'allure, du mordant et trouvera sa place de choix dans la discographie du "plus grand groupe rock du monde", marque déposée. Le titre joue sur le double sens du Big Bang et de baiser, to bang. Sur seize chansons, seulement une poignée est relâchée, le reste variant du très acceptable au très bon, emmené, propulsé par endroits par la frappe déterminée de Charlie Watts (profondeur sonore, swing) et les moulinets méchants de Richards. Du Stones post-âge d'or qui tient la route et pourra se réécouter régulièrement pour plus d'une ou deux chansons, comme c'est également le cas pour Some Girls (1978), Tattoo You (1981), Steel Wheels (1989) et, dans une moindre mesure, Voodoo Lounge (1994).

- Sylvain Siclier, Le Monde, September 2005

A Bigger Bang is business as usual. It's an improvement on its predecessor, '97's listless Bridges To Babylon. But it blows hot and cold. That the Stones are still a legitimate, fully functioning band 42 years after their inception is a unique achievement. And of their peers, only Bob Dylan still makes great records. But... the Stones have been "the Stones" for so long now that their creative process is essentially a conditioned reflex; an intuitive reversion to old habits. Every new song ends up sounding like one of their old songs, only never quite as good... It's not all bad news, though... Yet for this album to really matter, the Stones needed four or five truly great songs, and there are just two. Back of My Hand is a blues track steeped in the tradition of Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker that really wouldn't sound out of place on Sticky Fingers, their most perfectly formed album. And, better still, Laugh, I Nearly Died is their finest broken-hearted love song since 1976's Fool to Cry. Here, especially, Jagger proves what a great singer he can still be... 3/5

- Paul Elliott, Q, October 2005

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