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Rolling Stones

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No one needs a new Rolling Stones album, of course. But for those who want one--even those who aren't named Jann Wenner--A Bigger Bang (Virgin) is the first real deal since . . . um, Steel Wheels? Tattoo You? Some Girls? Those late-period touchstones are beside the point, actually: the new album is noisier and grimier than classic Stones, and the requisite arena-sized production wallop never smooths over the tangled funk underneath. No younger crew of roots rockers can match the precision of (to pick just one example) Keith Richards's rhythm guitar slashing across Ron Wood's exuberant blooze spew on "Oh No, Not You Again." Mick Jagger still doesn't have much to say, but that's only a problem when he attempts to convince you otherwise, as on the ludicrous "Sweet Neo Con." With "dirty old man" the only persona now available to him, he sinks his dentures into the rockers, waxing unrepentant, unsatisfied, and lecherous. Yet he floats the ballads, particularly the reggae-tinged "Laugh, I Nearly Died," voicing a regret that's too clear-eyed to be self-pity--he sounds fully aware that no reasonable human being will feel sympathy for him. The cracks in Jagger's falsetto and the lines on Richards's face both reveal the same spiritual toll of living like a perpetual teenager--as though Satan's wickedest trick after you sell him your soul is to let you forever strut across the earth without it. Antigone Rising opens. See also Wednesday. Mon 1/23, 7:30 PM, United Center, 1901 W. Madison, 312-455-4500 or 312-559-1212, $450. All ages.

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