Music Blu-ray Review: The Rolling Stones - Bridges to Bremen

Awesome 1998 show by the Stones, featuring a clutch of tunes from then-current Bridges to Babylon.

By , Contributor
Another Rolling Stones vault release from Eagle Rock Entertainment? Yes please! Recently-released Bridges to Bremen follows last year's Voodoo Lounge Uncut with a full concert from September of 1998. The Stones were trucking along full steam ahead on their support tour for the Bridges to Babylon album. The city of Bremen turned out to show their support (well, kind of... the show was far from sold out). The tour, which began in September of '97, was nearing its end. The band, road-hardened once again by the extended trek, was in sharp form.
So here with Bridges to Bremen we have another of Eagle Rock's "standard definition" Blu-ray titles, as the concert was taped prior to the high definition era. So no, while it's not exactly visually stunning, this is a music release after all. The point of this being viewed on Blu-ray is the audio, presented here as an option between uncompressed LPCM 2.0 stereo or lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1.

From the crack of Charlie Watts' snare to the deep, fluid rumblings of touring bassist Darryl Jones, the rhythms are on point. The oft-intertwined guitars of Keith Richards and Ron Wood are easy to distinguished. And of course riding above it all, front and center, are the throaty, muscular lead vocals of Mick Jagger. Unless you're skittish about late-era Stones in general (and I've encountered plenty of people who have particular cut-offs for what they care about, Stones-wise, be it Tattoo You, Some Girls, or even Exile), this audio presentation will be warmly welcomed.

So how do you feel specifically about the Stones' somewhat polarizing 1997 studio release Bridges to Babylon? That's what they were promoting on this tour, of course. Me personally, I find it be among their weaker late-era releases but a lot of that had to do with the album's production (not wild about the handful of Dust Brothers-produced "modern" tracks). That said, the five selections offered throughout Bremen fare considerably better in their live arrangements. The presence of songs like "Flip the Switch," "Saint of Me," "Anybody Seen My Baby?," "Out of Control," and "Thief in the Night" (most of which didn't become live staples) adds a unique flavor. At least to the first half of the show where they're all bunched up.

A very cool nugget in the set for this show is "Wanna Hold You," a seriously deep cut from 1983's Undercover. Like most Stones shows, the second half is one mega-classic after another, but it's hard to complain when the band is in such polished form.

Terrific bonus footage from a Chicago show (the tour began with two at Soldier Field; both sell-outs) for nearly 20 mintues of additional music. Best part? The four songs do not appear in the Bremen show. Sixties classics "Under My Thumb" and "Let It Bleed" are joined by a magnificent "Rock and a Hard Place" (a now semi-overlooked hit from Steel Wheels) and another true deep track, Richards-sung Emotional Rescue's "All About You."

And like so many Eagle Rock releases, buyers have the option of going with the highly recommended Blu-ray/double-CD edition. Personally, I find it great to have a convenient way to revisit the audio (Bremen concert only, the four Chicago track aren't part of the CD tracklist). Available in a variety of formats, including vinyl.
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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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