Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rolling Stones 41: Live Licks

In an amazing turn of events, the Stones broke pattern somewhat by issuing a live album as a follow-up to a hits collection, which itself had followed a live album! They’re nothing if not innovative.
Live Licks gets its title from the tour supporting the Forty Licks collection, and it’s to their credit that it’s not simply all the songs from that album played live. That would be silly, of course. They only pulled that trick for the first disc, which serves up eleven of their Classic Rock radio staples, the newest of which was over twenty years old, with the key addition of Sheryl Crow on “Honky Tonk Women”. (We’ll pause while you try to contain your excitement.) And the man who said he wouldn’t be singing “Satisfaction” in his forties is doing it at 60.
The second disc is slightly more interesting, with three—three!—solo vocals by Keith, some deeper catalog selections, a few choice covers and a guest appearance by gargantuan legend Solomon Burke on “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love”, to which most people will respond, “Hey, they’re doing a Blues Brothers song.” It’s still the more interesting of the two discs.
Live Licks sounds good, of course, with technology helping Chuck Leavell and Bobby Keys replicate the sounds of the records. The boys sound great and the band is tight. But by now we’ve been used to seeing the “post-production” credit in the liner notes of a live Stones album, so who knows how much tweaking happened between the performances and the CD pressing? It remains just another souvenir, and one that certainly wasn’t purchased by everyone who’d bought a ticket on this crazy 14-month tour. If you were there, you probably had a great time. If not, the excitement doesn’t likely surface.
And what’s a Stones album without a little controversy? To ensure their stature as the world’s favorite dirty old men next to Hugh Hefner, Live Licks was released in some of the more liberated countries worldwide with an uncensored cover, showing the lovely lady riding the tongue topless. In the US we were left to wonder what was under the bikini. Hot-cha!

Rolling Stones Live Licks (2004)—3

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