Friday, January 28, 2011

Misplaced Songs - 1/28/11 - "Rough Justice"

This week's Misplaced Songs entry is by the Rolling Stones which makes it a little hard to put into context.  It's from their 2005 release A Bigger Bang

If you're not familiar with the Rolling Stones then let me be the first to welcome you to our planet. After their phenomenal success in the 60s and 70s, all of their releases since Emotional Rescue have done about the same as far as sales go.  They have a strong following that seems to buy their output and help the albums get to somewhere near #2 on the charts. But the reviews are always something along the likes of: (Album we're reviewing today) "is their best work since Some Girls." You can probably find that phrase in every review of their work from 1986's Dirty Work forward.*

*With the exception of Voodoo Lounge which I've heard referred to as Doodoo Lounge.

But as time goes on the buying commitment to any singles released becomes less strong.  If you think the last "new" Stones song you've heard on the radio is "Mixed Emotions" you're not the only one. That was their last single that reached the top 10 and it's from 1989. "Rock and a Hard Place" is the last one to reach the top 40.  I'll sometimes hear "Almost Hear You Sigh" from the same era as well as 1994's "You Got Me Rocking" (both good songs) from time to time. But songs newer than "Waiting On A Friend" are rarely played.  And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Except in the case of "Rough Justice" it is.  As with nearly all great Stones songs it's riff* driven.  That riff carries the song through lyrics about a longtime love affair. I don't know any other way to describe this song other than it's classic Stones in both sound and lyrics.

*Sometime in 1987 my old housemate Jay (RIP) was inspired by the Rolling Stones which made him remark to our roommate and his bandmate Ed, "We don't need any lyrics. We just need a riff. A good riff will cover up a lot of faults and make songs people want to hear. We've gotta work on our riffs." Not sure if this helped him with Wilco but I do know it didn't help him wash the dishes any sooner.

This song was played at halftime of Super Bowl XL but I didn't remember it from there. I vaguely remember it having a few week radio shelf life. It wasn't until I was reintroduced to it on Little Steven's Underground Garage that I really got into it.  I'm glad I did.

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