With Stones in town, old rock debates reignite

It’s hard to top the sort of passionate squabbling that accompanies sports teams, but with the Rolling Stones concert tonight, this is one of the few days when old rock fans — and maybe a few young ones — can give the jock talkers a run for their money.

It’s also one of the few times when it’s worth reading the comments section attached to newspaper articles about tonight’s concert.

Let’s summarize the various beefs currently underway.

In the Star Tribune, music critic Jon Bream starts us off with the assertion that the only good rock band is a band that’s releasing new material.

Weren’t you cynical about the Stones not too long ago?

Yes, indeed. I get cynical about classic acts that don’t bother to make new albums but can’t resist the reunion paychecks — Crosby, Stills & Nostalgia, the Grateful Done and the Two, who used to be the Who but only two of them are still alive. When was the last time those groups made a recording of new music?

On the other hand, it’s easy to admire Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Prince because they challenge themselves — and their fans — by creating music even if it doesn’t often measure up to their Hall of Fame standards. However, one could argue that they are solo artists who work with bands rather than members of a band.

Although the Stones released “A Bigger Bang” the last time they performed in the Twin Cities in 2005, they haven’t delivered a significant album since 1994’s “Voodoo Lounge.” (Or was it 1989’s “Steel Wheels”? Debate amongst yourselves.) Two years ago, they introduced two new songs from another new greatest-hits package, and they played both new numbers regularly on tour. Frankly, I lose the skepticism as soon as I hear Keith Richards’ guitar cranking at full volume and the goose bumps kick in.

Fair points, we think. But we’re also guessing the Stones do a lot of old material tonight. Why? Because that’s what the patrons want. Does that make them musical illiterates? We think not. Rock ‘n roll and snobbery don’t mix. Or, at least, they didn’t used to.

In the attached comment section, however, we’re finding the type of debate that makes us wonder if there’s a niche to be filled with an all-music talk station in town.

Start with these assertions.

“Can we all agree that Queen would still blow the competition out of the water if Freddy Mercury was still alive?”

Richards is a rhythm guitarist, so yes, Taylor and Woods are better than him. But nobody has invented more chords that have entered the lexicon of rock guitar work than Richards. And the Stones are still the greatest rock band in history.

Richards? He is but the third best guitarist to ever perform with the Stones.

A Rolling Stones album is 2 or 3 good songs and a bunch of garbage for filler. A Led Zeppelin Album is just about all good songs. Really good songs.

Over at the Pioneer Press, this insight into the idea of the band touring well into their ’70s, which is pretty young by the standard set by the artists who inspired them.

Re the Rolling Stones and age – the key thing to remember is, they take a lot of inspiration from bluesmen like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, etc. etc., who, well into their 60s, got out on the road and played music for people. Given the incredible advances in recent years in anti-aging medicine, given how much money the Stones have at their disposal, and given that they live in jaw-dropping comfort on the road, it’s entirely reasonable for them to say, “If the blues guys could do it well into their 60s without much of a support network, we can do it well into our 70s, why not?” The way it will end will be, Charlie will decide to hang it up, Keith will say to Mick, “We can’t go on without Charlie,” Mick will be OK with that, and that’ll be it, the end of a great run. The Twin Cities are blessed this week. What would make the concert perfect would be if Rob Sherwood were to introduce them.

At least for today, the Twin Cities rock fans are much more interesting to listen to than their sports counterparts.