The Rolling Stones' "Doom and Gloom": Pretty Good For Zombie Rock
The Rolling Stones, rock 'n' roll's version of a senile third-world dictator who just won't hand over power to the younger generation, have released a new song. "Doom and Gloom" is the first new Stones material in seven years, and premiered only hours ago on Radio 2 in the U.K. It's the first new single off the band's upcoming greatest hits compilation, which is unfortunately titled GRRR!.
All of that aside, however, "Doom and Gloom" is not bad. It shows off a grittier, darker side of the twilight-period Stones, with a rolling bassline and on/off verse riffs that remind us just a bit of AC/DC. The chorus hits like a blast of 1972, with an anthemic chord progression this band must have used 75 times before. But Mick's sticky delivery still suits that kind of thing: "All I hear is doooooom and gloooom," he tapes down over the stretchy riff, "aaaaaaall is darkness in my roooom."
Other lyrical forays include a line about shooting up zombies in a Louisiana swamp, and the unfortunate pre-chorus refrain, "Sittin in the dirt/ feeling kinda hurt." Which really could've used some revision, guys.
How appropriate, though, to get something entitled "Doom and Gloom" on the a.m. of a high-stakes battle for the most powerful job in the world, and when much of everything civilized seems to be unraveling before our eyes. Not that Mick and the boys are out to fix anything: We get some explicitly pissed-off political references here -- "Lost all that treasure in an overseas war/ just goes to show you don't get what you paid for" -- only to find Jagger concluding, "put my feet up on the couch and lock all the doors." Hey, we're old and rich! Let the younger generations solve the problems!
As with many Stones songs, the secret hero of this one is Charlie Watts, whose bone-dry snare/tom work animates many of "Doom and Gloom"'s pregnant pauses. Watts has always been a stupidly funky drummer, and his impeccable feel gives this one a slinky tension that's a signature of the Stones' best uptempo rockers.
So, okay: there's nothing in "Doom and Gloom" we haven't heard from the Stones before, but that's to be expected. At this point these boys are like a band of bickering, anal-retentive zombies, still curiously fighting the battles they fought during their actual lifetime, even though they obviously won. They're apparently out to rule in the afterlife with "Doom and Gloom," and they've given it a solid start.