Disclaimer: Those looking for a brief description of the album will find what their looking for in the "Review Body" section. The section titled "Track Reviews" is meant only for those who want to read detailed descriptions of the songs, and they do not constitute the essence of this review. Lastly and most importantly, this review is not written in the point of view of a Rolling Stones fan.)
Overall Score: 4/5
Best Song: “Paint It, Black”
Worst Song: “The Nearness of You” I guess
Two live albums in a row? Surely you jest! I suppose the official explanation was that this was done in support of a highly publicized greatest hits compilation, so why not document it with a live album? But wow. Two live albums in a row. I mean, how many rock 'n' roll bands in the world have ever gotten away with such a thing? That used to be taboo! ......Eh, but I guess if anyone was going to get away with such a thing, then it'd be The Rolling Stones. They were, after all, the greatest rock 'n' roll band to have ever tread on the earth. So, what the heck? I'll gladly listen to another live album! Bring it on, baby!
This isn't as good as No Security, though, and it's a rather expensive double album set. So, the only people who really need to get Live Licks are die-hard Rolling Stones nuts who aren't particularly frugal. But they'll at least get a mightily solid product for their dough. As you probably know by now, The Rolling Stones were incapable of releasing a substandard live album. Even if they're still chugging away as 90-year-olds, I'm positive that sacred principle will still hold true. (Although that would be pretty scary. I mean, Nightmare Before Christmas sort of scary.)
They did something weird and filled the first disc of this live album with their greatest hits and filled the second one with more obscure songs. I can't be too sure why they bothered doing that instead of mixing it up more naturally. .......I mean, I can't even come up with a credible theory for this. That's just the way it is.
Thus, the first disc is filled with the only songs you'd expect them to perform. “Brown Sugar,” “Start Me Up,” “You Can't Always Get What You Want,” “(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction,” blah-be-blah-be-blah. They are all are performed rather sloppily and they're not always inspired, which is the immediate giveaway that this album as a whole isn't as good as No Security. But they're always solid and fun to listen to. I particularly enjoy this rendition of “Street Fighting Man.” While it might not be as frightening as the original version, they could still manage to create quite an appealing piece of anarchic glory! I'm also a huge fan of this exciting rendition of “Paint it, Black.” Oh man, listening to the powerful ruckus they cause is an almost beautiful experience!
One of my complaints of the first disc is the inclusion “Happy,” a relatively boring song out of Exile on Main Street. Was that even a hit? I guess I don't know, but that's a weird song to hear them do amongst their monster classics. My second complaint is a terribly clunky and uninspiring rendition of “Honky Tonk Woman.” They had Sheryl Crow do guest vocals there, which I guess explains why they couldn't have pulled a more solid recording of it from a different performance on the tour! Baaaaah!!!! Who the hell is Sheryl Crow anyway? She sings like a crow!
The second half is probably the most interesting to fans, because they pull out some funny songs from their back catalog. Hearing most of what they come up with is nothing less than a pure treat. “Monkey Man” from Let it Bleed is without a doubt one of their greatest songs of all time, but we rarely get to hear it! It could have been tighter, I suppose, and more atmospheric, but that's just nitpicking. I LOVE THAT SONG! They also resurrect their great punk number “When the Whip Comes Down” from Some Girls, and Keef does an excellent job reenacting those tight Berry-isms! And, wow, they even do a version of “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love,” a gospel-rock cover that opened Rolling Stones Now!. The biggest surprise of them all is they actually bring Solomon Burke (who co-wrote it!!!!) on stage to duet with Mick. Holy mother of Moses, that's a spirited rendition, too. It's better than the studio original, for my money!
With 23 tracks on here, there's no way that I can mention everything in detail up here. Let's just conclude by saying that this album has its ups and downs, but its ups are pretty freaking awesome, and its downs aren't all that bad. (Yes, and many of the downs are the three tracks that Keith sings lead vocals on. He continues to be a spaced-out wheezy bastard, but that's why we all love him, right?) Even though The Rolling Stones are releasing a higher percentage of live albums than studio albums these days, I can't say that Live Licks disappoints. As far as I'm concerned, this is a must-have for the die-hard fans.
Brown Sugar A-
OK, right away, you can tell that these guys weren't in the same *top form* as they were in No Security. The band sounds looser, and Mick seems like he's losing his breath a bit. Not that he was getting terribly old, but I'd imagine that he was still hopping and waving his arms around. You try to sing coherent lead vocals while doing that! ...My, my, there was only one Mick Jagger in the world! Anyway, I needn't tell you that this is a great song, and they perform it well. This is The Rolling Stones. No doy.
Street Fighting Man A
I also needn't say that this is a solid rendition of a great Rolling Stones song. I mean, if you expected anything less than a solid rendition, then you haven't been paying attention! They create quite a nice, dirty ruckus with this one. Of course, they're not trying to play it so much *tightly* as they are just trying to play it rudely, and they can do that just as well. The gruffy guitars flail around most pleasantly and a scaling piano even comes in for the fun. It sounds almost like they're playing for the last time.
Paint it, Black A
Cool! They might not have had the sitar or whatever instrument Brian Jones had, but they have a guitar or something that sounds a lot like it. It creates quite an appealing texture! Of course, Charlie is still here with those incredibly pounding drums, and that's part of the reason this rendition is so spectacular to listen to. Again, the guitarists aren't always playing tightly, but they're playing well, picking up quite a grand ruckus. Jagger's lead vocals teeter on the fine line between spirited and goofy, and that's part of the fun of listening to him. ...The synth-strings someone plays in the background were a surprisingly nice, epic touch. Not bad!
You Can't Always Get What You Want B
Hey, it might have cost you $150 to go to this concert, but at least The Stones have spared no suspense bringing in a horn player for the introduction of this! Although I will say that Mick gets a little lazy here by not singing some of the lyrics, instead expecting the audience to sing it for him. To that, I say, whatever man! I paid $150 to hear you sing! I'm not gonna do your job! ....... OK, I like audience participation when I go to concerts. It's like they're talking to me or something. It's not so great in live albums, but it's not a deal-breaker for me. All in all, this is a good live rendition, although it's not as wholly wonderful as the three previous live songs. The guitar solo in the middle isn't that great. And, besides the audience participation stuff, Mick's doing these weird belch things that we heard him do in Love You Live. I'm also not sure I like them turning it into a TV evangelist gospel song at the end. ...Eh.
Start Me Up B
You make a grown man cry!!! You hear that, Microsoft? The only reason The Stones are always performing this song is because they still can't believe that you wanted to use this song as your theme! ...While this is a good rendition of a great song, I don't think the uber-sloppiness of it turned out to create such a spirited experience as I got from “Street Fighting Man” and “Paint it, Black.” The guitar solos are a little less inspired, and again Mick's lead singing starts to get a bit cocky at times. Man! I thought he was past that stage!!
It's Only Rock 'N Roll (But I Like It) A
I like it too!!! And I like this song, because they get quite an exciting chugging groove going! And when it comes down to it, isn't that what a Rolling Stones concert was about? Them playing a chugging riff and the audience dancing along with it? Hells yeah! There's more of the audience participation stuff in this one, which I guess shows that this live album as a whole won't be as priceless as No Security, but that doesn't matter. This song is fun.
Cool. They do their ballads well on this live album. I remember they screwed one up royally on Flashpoint, which is why I'm always skeptical about this! Anyway, this is a great song, of course, and it's a real pleasure to hear them do. The band plays their acoustic guitars well, the piano is pleasantly tinkling, and Mick is alright until for some reason he stops singing in the middle of this.
Honky Tonk Woman B-
I'm not sure why they made this one more bouncy and bubbly than the original's more confident and rollicking version. Listening to this is still pretty cool, but I've got to say this new approach to the song is the first major gaffe in this live album. It just doesn't seem to have near the amount and drive to it that the original did. Having Sheryl Crow take over Mick's duties was a pretty bad idea, too. Does anybody care about Sheryl Crow? I didn't think so. WE JUST WANT MICK, THANK YOU!!!!!! The guitars are sloppy here as always, but they start to become a bit of a clunky burden.
Call me insane, but this is by far the least well-known song on this 'greatest hits' first half. Was this even a hit? Sure, it's from Exile, one of the most celebrated albums of The Stones' discography, but I can't say I hear this very often. I guess they had to let Keith sing somewhere. And his weird, wheezy vocals sort of inaudibly flail about this. Argh... Whoever told Keith that he should take lead vocals on Rolling Stones songs should be smacked around for this performance specifically! All in all, though, this is a fun, swinging song so... whatever. I won't complain about it. Much.
Gimme Shelter A
It's performed a lot like it was on No Security, which begs the question: Why did they do it again? ...I don't know. Who cares? It doesn't quite generate that sort of intense atmosphere that I remember from No Security, but that doesn't exactly surprise me. But they do generate quite a fun, chugging rhythm again, which I always appreciate hearing out of them of course! Mick gives a rightfully spirited vocal performance even though he lets his voice get overtaken slightly by that female back-up singer.
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction A-
Ah, I always welcome another opportunity to hear them do this song again! I just don't find it as inspiring as it probably could have been. Although I can't blame them for not being terribly inspired with it since they've performed it a billion times by now. Ah well. At least Keith comes in with a nice solo, and of course, they get a good chugging groove going! Mick's lead vocals are so obscured that all I really hear most of the time are a bunch of grunts! Apart from that, I love it!
This must be the beginning of the second disc where they start performing songs that you rarely hear them do live. This little “rarity” from Tattoo You sounds like an ordinary boogie-woogie nightclub song, and they perform it quite well! Although it's far from one of their great songs for a good reason; it's quite generic. That said, we don't really care about that. Keith comes in with an exceptional '50s-oriented guitar solo, and of course the rhythm is 100 percent toe-tapping.
Monkey Man A-
Surely this song is more famous than “Happy.” ...Ah well, I'm gonna quit wondering about that. This is one of the great songs from their best album, Let it Bleed, and I'm absolutely thrilled to hear them doing this again. I mean, aren't you? The original was known for its absolutely impeccable and frightening atmosphere, and they weren't quite able to recreate that feeling in this remake. But whatever. It's a great Rolling Stones song with a chugging rhythm. What more could you ask for, then?
Rocks Off A-
Alright. This song is even more famous than “Happy,” and it's from the same album! ...It must've been the Keef thing. Anyway, do I need to repeat to you what my opinion of this song is? It's a good rendition of an excellent song. The Stones get quite an exciting chugging groove going! Does it get any better than that? Maybe it could have done with a great horn section, but they do great with it of course.
Can't You Hear Me Knocking B
Wow! It's cool hearing them do this song again! It was originally a seven-minute jam tune, and they extend it to 10 minutes for this one. I suppose there wasn't a great reason to extend it for so long. Maybe they could have axed that lite-jazz bit in the middle of it. (And when I say “lite-jazz,” I mean it's still 100000000 times better than everything of Kenny G's career combined. I mean, there's a real saxophone noodling around!) This is a fun experience if a bit too rambly and pointless at times. Hm...... it seems that this song is never going to end........................................... I'm just going to keep on writing dots until it's over............................................................................. OK, I won't keep doing that. It'll just go and mess up the Internet. ...I'll just sit here and listen to it, I guess. YOU STILL ROCK ME, KEEF!!!
That's How Strong My Love Is B
A new track! Finally! Here's a song that I'm sure we all forgot existed. It came after “The Last Time” in Out of Our Heads. It was extremely derivative, but everything was back then. It's certainly fun hearing them do this song again. Of course, the instrumentation didn't stop being loose and undisciplined, but they still sound solid performing it. Mick's vocals are pretty good, although they get flakier than usual there in the middle. (Pssst... why are you whispering?)
The Nearness of You B-
This song is so obscure that I never heard it before! In fact, it's not even by The Rolling Stones! It a song from 1938 written by somebody named Hoagey Carmichael. That's making me hungry! ...And Keef does the lead vocals, which means you can expect a lot of wheeziness throughout this. (Seriously, wasn't there a Toy Story character inspired by Keith Richards?) I sort of like his vocals, though; They always sound better with the more understated songs. I don't think that piano should have sounded so twinkly and cheery, though, and that horn section is just a little too good. It seems a bit too much like Keef is messing up a perfectly decent karaoke song, then.
Beast of Burden B
Yay! I remember this song from Some Girls. I heard it in the grocery store the other day, so I think it probably belonged on the first half of the album! But whatever. I don't care. I just like hearing this great old song! ....I do wish that Jagger would shape up and stop barking those lyrics. Again, I thought he was beyond that stage!! I also don't think that the band created quite the foot-stompin' rhythm that they might have. So. Em. In the end, this is good for reminding us how great that song was!
When the Whip Comes Down A
More yay! They brought back one of their punkish attempts from Some Girls. Everyone likes this song, don't they? Given that it was one of the punk songs, you can bet that this is going to be one of the rollicking moments of the album. The rhythm is exactly the sort of thing that'll make you want to tap your foot with it, and the guitars create quite a stir! This, my friends, is what life is all about. Well, this and cotton candy. And Joseph Cotten. And other things, too. But seriously, “When the Whip Comes Down” rules!
Rock Me, Baby A
The Stones do an excellent job covering B.B. King! Don't you remember in the mid '60s when these guys covered a lot of old blues songs? This is a retread of those days. And it's cool. Keith's bluesy riffs are as solid as ever, and Mick's lead vocals are fun and confident. The rhythm is rocky and swinging. 'Tain't half bad! It's a billion times better than that Taj Mahal song, anyway!
You Don't Have to Mean It B-
Yeah, Mick Jagger had been following that philosophy for years! And, why the hell are they covering this song? I mean, of all the songs from Bridges of Babylon that they could have covered, why did it have to be the reggae one? ...Ah, heck if I know. If I ever had any idea what The Rolling Stones were thinking, I'd probably have invented inflatable toilet paper by now and I'd be lazing around a beach in Hawaii listening to a Jimmy Buffett album right now. (Hey, don't you tread on my dreams!) Anyway. This OK. I guess. Keith is singing this. Hm. (You should go do an image search on Google for Jimmy Buffet's Somewhere Over China. That douche bag is standing on Africa!)
Worried About You B
Not that I'm really a Jimmy Buffett fan so to speak. I'm just fascinated by cheeseburgers who are in paradise. I mean, how did it get there? And why am I stuck here in the Pacific Northwest? Why is a cheeseburger more deserving of paradise than I am? ...That's all I'm saying. ...And, wow, these guys pulled out quite a strange song from Tattoo You to cover here. It's a ballad that Mick had originally did with a falsetto vocal. ...But his falsetto voice turned into something more along the lines of one of the drag characters from Monty Python's Flying Circus. It's so ridiculous that I can't help but freaking laugh. But hey, you gotta give Jagger credit for being completely gung-ho about it. Never doubt his confidence for one micro-second.
Everybody Needs Someone To Love A
Oh! Oh! Oh! I remember this song! It's from Rolling Stones Now! And I'll be danged if this isn't significantly better than the studio version was. Give me that swinging horn section and bouncy rhythm for all the tea in Africa! Undoubtedly the coolest thing about it is one of the cowriters of the actual song, Solomon Burke, comes on stage and duets with Mick for a bit! .......I MEAN, HE ACTUALLY COWROTE THE SONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And what a singer, too! He's all crazy and guttural and stuff! This sounds like the sort of gospel song they threatened to turn “You Can't Always Get What You Want” into at the end, except this is how it's done. And that crazed saxophone solo completely rules. You'll have to listen to it. ...All in all, this is quite a pleasant surprise!
Not a half-bad live Rolling Stones album! Granted they had just released one in 1998, and that one showed The Rolling Stones in better form, but this is nonetheless a worthwhile purchase for the longtime fans!
Read More Rolling Stones Reviews By Starcollector!
England's Newest Hitmakers (1964) | 12 X 5 (1964) | The Rolling Stones Now! (1965) | Out of Our Heads (1965) | December's Children (And Everybody's) (1965) | Aftermath (1966) | Between the Buttons (1967) | Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967) | Beggar's Banquet (1968) | Let it Bleed (1969) | Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out (1970) | Sticky Fingers (1971) | Exile on Main St. (1972) | Goats Head Soup (1973) | It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (1974) | Metamorphosis (1975) | Black and Blue (1976) | Love You Live (1977) | Some Girls (1978) | Emotional Rescue (1980) | Tattoo You (1981) | Undercover (1983) | Dirty Work (1986) | Steel Wheels (1989) | Flashpoint (1991) | Voodoo Lounge (1994) | Stripped (1995) | Bridges to Babylon (1997) | No Security (1998) | Live Licks (2004) | A Bigger Bang (2005) | Rarities 1971-2003 (2005) | Shine a Light (2008)