The Rolling Stones: Honk album review

Three-CD set combines post-’71 studio cuts, live recordings and recent tour guest slots from The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones - Honk

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Masters of endurance and generation-spanning branding, the Rolling Stones’ licence to thrill – as medical science-defying freaks of nature – knows no bounds. 

What other band would be permitted to once again offer up Brown Sugar’s lascivious paen to plantation sex but for that delivery, that riff? And everyone, including Florence Welch (Wild Horses) and Ed Sheeran (Beast Of Burden), wants to be part of the debauchery. 

Seven years after their 50th-anniversary, career-spanning compilation Grrr!, Honk reconfigures their story from the point that Mick, Keef and co. took control of their career. 

Old timers and newcomers are invited to reconsider latter-day entries in the Stones hall of infamy. While Doom And Gloom and the sparring couplets of Rough Justice warrant rehabilitation, Streets Of Love’s overblown gaudiness typifies the quality dip that closes disc 2. 

But Teflon-coated Chess studio tributes from 2016’s Blue And Lonesome and recent live cuts show how, keeping connected to their roots, the Stones have defied passing years. 

A cracking Get Off Off My Cloud and lusty, combative Dancing With Mr D (making its first live appearance in 44 years) brim with the stuff that keeps audiences, Brad Paisley, Dave Grohl, Flo and Ed, coming back for more.

Late NME, Daily Mirror and Classic Rock writer Gavin Martin started writing about music in 1977 when he published his hand-written fanzine Alternative Ulster in Belfast. He moved to London in 1980 to become the NME’s Media Editor and features writer, where he interviewed the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, Pete Townshend, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Dury, Killing Joke, Neil Young, REM, Sting, Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Willie Dixon, Madonna and a host of others. He was also published in The Times, Guardian, Independent, Loaded, GQ and Uncut, he had pieces on Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra featured in The Faber Book Of Pop and Rock ’N’ Roll Is Here To Stay, and was the Daily Mirror’s regular music critic from 2001. He died in 2022.