Despite mumblings that the Stones are past their prime, out of touch, or out of time, the opening line of “Doom and Gloom” seems a perfect example of just how close Jagger-Richard’s ear is to the pop-culture pavement;
I crash landed in a Louisiana swamp/
Shot up a horde of zombies/
But I come out on top.
But the current culture references don’t stop there. Mick & Co. made no secret of their feelings for the Bush administration in A Bigger Bang‘s “Sweet Neocon,” and the Stones once again visit the notion of political turmoil, this time invoking the financial crisis and, possibly, Occupy Wall Street. Mick croons, “Lost all that treasure in an overseas war/It just goes to show you don’t get what you paid for/Battle to the rich and you worry about the poor.” Conceptually, the band has updated “Street Fighting Man” for the Twitter set. Heck, Mick even throws a barb at the oil industry over fracking.
But the core of the song is timeless Rolling Stones:
But all I hear is doom and gloom/
And all is darkness in my room/
Through the night your face I see/
Baby come on/
Baby won’t you dance with me.
Despite the eminently 21st century references to neoconservatism, fracking, and zombies, the Stones maintain their lyrical dependability, conveying innuendo that’s just broad enough – or they’re just old enough – to be innocuous, while remaining winkingly suggestive. Something about “Baby won’t you dance with me” seems to sooner evoke “I Just Want to Make Love to You” than The Beatles “I’m Happy Just to Dance with You.” But who knows, maybe Mick has mellowed? I doubt it.
There is little musical innovation on Doom and Gloom, but that’s okay by me. The song opens with a four-chord Richards riff that follows closely “Rough Justice,” the headlining track off A Bigger Bang. It would be unfair to draw a comparison to Richard’s immortal “Start Me Up” or “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” and so let it suffice to say that “Doom and Gloom’s” musical backbone is certainly up to par with much of the Stones’s post-80s work – the sort of thing that evokes a response along the lines of “Hm, this is simple, but damn, it’s catchy.”
Keith isn’t the only one playing up to spec. Mick’s voice is practically ageless, and sounds as good as it did on pantheon albums like Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street. And drummer Charlie Watts seems to assert himself more, while Ronnie Wood provides a decent bass. Effectively, it’s classic Rolling Stones material.
In listening to Doom and Gloom, I’m reminded of something Kinks frontman Ray Davies called out before launching into a live version of “All Day and All of the Night” on One for the Road. He said, “Rock bands will come and rock bands will go, but Rock ‘n’ Roll will go on forever.” Something about “Doom and Gloom” makes you doubt that first qualifier.