4 Out Of 5 Stars
Just as 40 Licks was released to cover the Rolling Stones' 40th anniversary, it's time for a 50th Birthday set. "Grrr!" states the story of The Stones in multiple formats: you can purchase this album in 2, 3 or 5 disc sets. Way to market yourselves, guys.
That doesn't take away from the power of The Stones and their often ingenious singles. The first CD alone is a primer for rock and roll history, with "Satisfaction," "Jumping Jack Flash" and "Sympathy for The Devil" alone being the kind of songs bands would chew their hind legs off to compose...or even come up with a guitar lick as memorable. You'll also get a trio of the early, greasy Stones with "Come On," a cover of Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away" and Mick and Keith laying down some early blues with "Little Red Rooster." It's the kind of early material most compilations tend to skip over.
Disc two contains plenty of latter classics, like "Miss You," "Brown Sugar" and "Start Me Up." But it also reminds you why the band once titled one of their single disc sets "Sucking In The Seventies." It makes you stuck with weaker material like "Angie" or "Emotional Rescue," along with the 80's material that was the band turning into a polished hit machine. Some of these songs hold up surprisingly well, like "Undercover of The Night," but "Anybody Seen My Baby" could have been left off and I don't think I'd have noticed.
Of the new songs, "Doom and Gloom" has serious swagger while "One More Shot" runs on fumes, really. But that still makes a whole batch of Jagger/Richards composition (along with a couple covers, like the aforementioned Buddy Holly song and "Harlem Shuffle." And no-one keeps a beat like Charlie Watts. Like all Stones collections, you can't always get what you want (She's So Cold"), but sometimes you get what you need. Or depending on which set, what you pay for.