20 Years Ago: The Rolling Stones Unplug on ‘Stripped’
What's a band to do when they find themselves with a hit album on their hands? Why not drop another one right behind it? That's basically what the Rolling Stones did after the success of Voodoo Lounge, releasing the live album Stripped in November 1995.
When Voodoo Lounge arrived a year earlier, the Rolling Stones didn't make a comeback so much as enjoy a strong shot in the arm. Producer Don Was encouraged the band to push itself, as songwriters and as musicians, to write and record the sort of classic R&B that made them famous. As a result, Voodoo Lounge became a big success, pulling the Stones – still cohesive as ever – into the '90s.
The subsequent tour also proved to be wildly successful for the band. By the time the Rolling Stones loaded up and hit the road, their tour schedule was massive, lasting two years and becoming one of the highest-grossing tours of all time. This tour also found the band in fine form.
During the tour, the Rolling Stones took some time to record parts of their live sets, capturing their newfound energy in some of their classic songs. They captured recordings in locations such as Tokyo, Amsterdam and Lisbon, as well as at some smaller London shows. They also spent some time recording live in-studio.
The result was Stripped, a retelling of sorts, introducing a new generation to the music that made legends out of the Rolling Stones. Its live production and loose feel could be seen as a retort to the highly produced Voodoo Lounge. But just like Voodoo Lounge, the music-loving masses ate it up.
One of the songs to do well from the album was the Stones' cover of the Bob Dylan classic that contained their name, "Like a Rolling Stone." The single even had a music video featuring Patricia Arquette.
"Well, melodically I quite like it," Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger said of the track, in a talk with journalist and friend Jann S. Wenner. "It’s very well put together; it’s got a proper three sections to it, real good choruses and a good middle bit, and great lyrics. It’s a really well-constructed pop song, in my opinion. ... It's very much to the point, it doesn’t waffle too much. I sang it a lot of times on the European tour – maybe 50 times. So, I really got inside it, and I enjoyed it. I love playing the harmonica on it."
The Rolling Stones also pulled out a choice Exile on Main St. deep cut in "Shine a Light," though Jagger was surprised by how well known it, in fact, was. "We had never done that before, being something that was just hidden," he told Wenner. "And I was really surprised when we first did it – that people knew it."
Stripped kept the decade's momentum going, after both Jagger and the seemingly immortal bandmate Keith Richards released solo albums prior to Voodoo Lounge. They'd close things out with Bridges to Babylon, the Stones' third straight platinum album of the '90s, and one more massive world tour.
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