Thursday, January 6, 2011

Keith Richards - Life

Unless you have strong negative feelings about substance abuse and/or rock music, Keith Richards ranks pretty high on the list of generally fucking cool cats. I've always ranked The Stones above The Beatles, and the contrarian in me has always ranked Richards above Jagger. The X-pensive Winos records with Waddy Wachtel and Steve Jordan (and Charley Drayton, of course) are better than any or the late period Stones releases, and without question stronger than any Jagger solo material. I can't say that I have a huge interest in paying a million dollars to see The Stones in an arena, but the prospect of solo Richards material remains a compelling proposition.

As none of the parties are getting any younger, the time seems ripe for a Richards memoir. Consider that done. Said memoir is Life and is a pretty damn good read. Our boy calls a spade a spade, turning the light on all parties (including himself) and exposing a couple skeletons in the offing. He generally comes off likeable and a pretty straight shooter. Jagger somewhat less so.

Having viewed the Scorcese doc A Bigger Bang almost immediately upon finishing the book, you can see a palpable amount of tension between The Glimmer Twins. One of the bigger points Richards makes in Life is the irritation that Jagger has felt post-Richards clean-up. It has long been obvious that Jagger considers himself The Rolling Stones and a more present Richards has made it that much more difficult for Jagger to run the day-to-day affairs of The Stones in the arguably monomanical fashion he had previously. Tensions aside, The Stones are still a compelling live entity, but Bill Wyman is right in that its a much safer, by-the-numbers Rolling Stones in the second decade of the 22nd Century.

Life is an engaging read that anyone with even a passing interest will enjoy. Revel in the tales of Richards and the wayward path he has taken over the past seven decades. I'm sure it's sold a bazillion copies during the holidays. I got one of them and you should as well. Those that enjoy being read to should look out for the tag-team audio book narrated by Johnny Depp and Joe Hurley. Evidently the CD version is 20 cds, which seems a tad excessive, but its a great story regardless of whether you enjoy Life virtually or actually.


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