The ROLLING STONES – ” Bridges to Babylon ” Released on September 23rd, 1997

Posted: September 25, 2017 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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The Bridges to Babylon Tour

According to Mick Jagger, “The title came from looking at the stage. Because it was going to be the name of the tour as well as the record—it all had to fit together. We were looking at the stage one day and trying to find where we were with it. What does this design say to us? I came up with the ‘Bridges’ idea and a friend of mine came up with the Babylon thing. The bridge to the B-stage worked perfectly most nights, except when it was too cold or too hot, and then it had to be sort of manually got together. It was always my worry that it wasn’t gonna actually open.”

The Bridges To Babylon tour was announced in a press conference held underneath the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City and began on 9th September 1997 with a warm up show in Toronto, Canada, followed by another at The Double Door In Chicago. It officially began on 23rd September at Chicago’s Soldier Field followed by 55 more shows in North America, nine shows in South America, six shows in Japan and thirty-seven shows in Europe.

The production was designed by Mark Fisher, Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger and Patrick Woodroffe and opened with a circular central screen exploding with fireworks, from which guitarist Keith Richards emerged playing the riff to “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”.

This was the first tour on which the B-stage featured at almost every gig; the stage design included a 46 m (150 ft) long telescoping cantilever bridge that extended from the main stage to a ‘B’ stage in the centre of the stadiums. The only issue according to Keith was the fact that out door shows had the unpredictability of the weather to contend with.

“There’s another guy that joins the band on outdoor stages: God. Either he’s benign or he can come at you with wind from the wrong direction and the sound is swept out of the park. The weather normally comes good around show time… but not always.’ Keith

Keith also pointed out that, “The bigger shows are harder to play, even though that’s what we do most of the time, because we are so locked into lighting systems and computers: the more constructed you have to be, because of the size of the operation. When we play on the B-stage or at a club venue, for us it’s just like coming back home—sweating it up a bit.”

Babylon oslo

All in all this was another massive step forward in terms of the number of people who came watched The Stones perform: 4.8 million at 108 shows in 25 countries.

It concluded on 19th September 1998 in Istanbul, Turkey. Five shows were cancelled (in Marseilles, Paris, Lyon, Bilbao and Gijón), and five more were postponed (in Italy, Ireland and Great Britain).

As the ’90s wore on, Jagger became concerned with keeping the Rolling Stones fresh. That led directly to some of the dated experimentation on Bridges to Babylon, released on September. 23rd, 1997.

“There is a great danger when you’ve done all these albums … that you think you know how to make a record,” Jagger said in 1997. “Someone writes a song and there is something in the song that you recognize: ‘Oh, I know what that is. I’ll get my slide guitar.’ I don’t want to do that first thing that comes to mind.”

Over-worried about sounding too much like themselves after succumbing to a kind of easy classicism on 1994’s Voodoo Lounge, the Rolling Stones ended up going too far the other way. That meant bringing in then-hip producers John King and Mike Simpson. Known professionally as the Dust Brothers, they’d most recently been working with Beck.

“Anybody Seen My Baby,” the lead-off single, was doomed to parody by their decision to include a sample of Biz Markie‘s 1986 track “One Two.” Deep cuts like “Might as Well Get Juiced” suffered too, as its generically electronic backing track felt somehow both relentless and largely without detail. Hiding somewhere within this tune is something that could have harkened back to the edgy smack-laced danger of 1972’s Exile on Main St. The loop-driven “Saint of Me,” written in tribute to their late long-time sideman Billy Preston, suffers a similar fate. It’s a pretty good Stones song lost in a maze of studio tricks.

Jagger even brought in the sleek R&B producer Babyface to work on “Already Over Me” at one point, before discarding the tapes. “It’s full of fance – that’s funk and dance put together,” guitarist Ron Wood enthused in a 1997 . Fans were less enthusiastic, as the album became the Rolling Stones’ first ever – including 1986’s lightly regarded Dirty Work – to finish outside the U.K. Top 5. Bridges to Babylon ended up selling a million copies, but that was far less than the multi-platinum sales of their two most recent studio projects.

You could hardly blame Keith Richards. Favoring an abandoned back-to-basics approach, he ended up contributing some of his strongest material, and simply stayed well away from the more modernized stuff. Waddy Wachtel, the ace Los Angeles session guitarist, sat in on “Anybody Seen My Baby,” which was rumored to have been about actress Mary Badham of To Kill a Mockingbird fame. Richards doesn’t even appear on “Saint of Me.”

He claimed there were no hard feelings, despite early reports of tensions in the studio. “You always have to deal with other people’s preconceptions of what their version of the Stones is – and we can’t be everything to everybody,” said Richards “All we can do is be true to ourselves as much as possible, and say, ‘This is us now, take it or leave it.’”

Richards collaborated exclusively with stalwart Stones producer Don Was on the reggae-inflected “You Don’t Have to Mean It,” the soul-drenched “Thief in the Night” and his devastatingly sad album-closing “How Can I Stop.” All of them would have sounded more at home on one of Richard’s then-recent solo projects, For his part, Richards argued that while Bridges to Babylon may not have always worked, it had at least been interesting.

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