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Faraway eyes

I was involved earlier today in a discussion surrounding a piece in the Guardian by a columnist who took it upon himself to rate, bottom to top, all of The Rolling Stones’ studio albums. It seems that its editor thinks that such acts of self-indulgence sell newspapers: and she’s right for here I am writing about it.

Needless to say I don’t agree with Alexis Petridis’ ranking, but that’s not unexpected. Nor is it unreasonable, since he wasn’t born when the earliest of them were released and can have no first hand knowledge of their social impact at the time, which was considerable and should be part of such a judgement, IMO.

When I was 17, early 60s, a guy I knew was lifted at a Stones gig in a hotel in Hamilton (really). The police turned up mob handed and laid into everyone at the first sign of over exuberance, including my classmate who was doing no more than waiting to collect his sister. That’s how they were viewed in those days, and so a simple listing of their edited work is banal without a parallel study of their life and times.

The Guardian’s is banal also because it trots out the old ‘world’s greatest rock and roll band’ label. Most famous, yes, but greatest, how could they be, particularly when that is the assessment of a study that excludes their live work?

The best live music experience I’ve ever had, recorded or witnessed, involved Bruce and the E Street Band performing Racing in the Streets in St James Park, 30 something years ago. They’ll have had better nights and they’ll have had worse, but then I thought they were gods.

In my library I have five live versions of ‘Rain King’, a Counting Crows anthem, them being among my favourite bands and Adam Duritz being among my favourite writers. Each one is different and each one I like, most of all the most recent, when Adam really loses it. Which is the greatest of the five? You tell me.

My point? That my opinion is of no less or greater value than yours, or than that of the guy in the Guardian. My resentment? That he gets paid for expressing his.

Now I am off to listen to Dylan’s ‘Desire’. The greatest studio album ever made? I think so.

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