Album Review: I don't envy a music producer who is given the task of distilling the best work of a major rock 'n' roll band down to a greatest hits collection. In the case of this Rolling Stones package—Forty Licks—the task was made slightly easier by the fact that the producers were given two CDs and 40 tracks to do the job. This allowed them to include multiple hits from all of the Rolling Stones' phases: (1) From the blues/R&B phase, we get songs like
"The Last Time," "It's All Over Now" and "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?" (2) The tracks from their very productive early rock phase, when the Stones came strongly into their own, include "Get Off My Cloud," "Brown Sugar," "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," "19th Nervous Breakdown," "Under My Thumb," "Mother's Little Helper" and "Let's Spend The Night Together." (3) We get a few songs from the
Rolling Stones' flower-power pop-psych phase: "Paint It Black," "She's A Rainbow" and "Ruby Tuesday." (4) From the grittier, more serious mid-period, we have songs like "Honky Tonk Women," "Street Fighting Man," "Jumping Jack Flash," "Gimme Shelter," "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and "Sympathy For The Devil," as well as two classic ballads, "Wild Horses" and "Angie." (5) More than a dozen tracks come from the
"Miss You" era and beyond, including "Shattered," "Beast Of Burden," "Fool To Cry," "Start Me Up," "Emotional Rescue" and "Mixed Emotions." While writing this review, I found myself surprised and impressed to realize that almost all of the songs on the collection had been hits for the Stones—quite an impressive record of achievement. There are a few greats that were unfortunately omitted from Forty Licks—"Time Is On My
Side," "Dandelion, "Waiting for a Friend," "Time Waits for No One," "Harlem Shuffle"—but with such a huge slew of great songs to choose from, it's a given that, within a 40-track limit, the song-pickers were never going to be able to cover ever single good song the Rolling Stones ever did. Still, you will not find a better overview of the Rolling Stones 40-year body of work than Forty Licks. I know it's only rock and roll—but I like it!