The Rolling Stones

Piece of Gold

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It's true what the critics say: after 30-plus years, the Stones should be sick to death of half of these songs, and the audience should be sick of the rest of them. So why is it that no matter how uninviting the prospect of another live version of "Satisfaction" may be, or how much listeners wish "The Last Time" would live up to its title for once, the moment the Stones kick into overdrive, it's as if listeners never heard them before, and the songs are as exciting as they ever were in their prime? Excerpting the 1997 tour's full two-hour-plus show with as eccentric a track list as one could hope for, Piece of Gold lives up to its name in more ways than one -- the disc is indeed gold, but the performance, from Chicago's Soldier Field on September 23, is pretty glittering too. Full show recordings from the Bridges to Babylon tour (and the two before it) have seen later material letting the side down a little, the Stones clicking into lower gear for songs they'll never think about once the outing is over. No danger of that here: "Out of Control" and "Wanna Hold You" notwithstanding, there's not a delinquent ditty in sight. "Let It Bleed" is lascivious, "Spend the Night" is seductive, and as they're the weakest oldies in sight, the rest of the set is superlative. More gems include "Bitch," bursting out of a magnificent horn riff and packing a fiery guitar solo, a deliciously soulful "Under My Thumb" with Jagger wondering aloud if he still remembers the ending, and a scintillating "Miss You." Stick the Stones in the studio and ask them for a new album, and odds are that listeners will never want to hear it more than once. But they remake and remodel their past every time, and they never put a foot wrong. Jagger even sings "Little Queenie" like he means it. And if that's not an achievement, what is?

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