The Rolling Stones Release 'Bridges to Babylon'
Bridges to Babylon is the 21st studio album by The Rolling Stones and was released in 1997.
It would prove to be their final studio album of the 1990s and their last full-length release of new songs until 2005's A Bigger Bang. The album was supported by a massive year-long worldwide tour that met with much success.
Following the Voodoo Lounge, Voodoo Lounge Tour, and Stripped projects of 1994/1995, the Stones afforded themselves a brief respite from their recent spate of prolific work before leaders Mick Jagger and Keith Richards began devising new numbers together in the summer of 1996 with demos to follow at the end of the year. Although the band would use Don Was as a producer again, Jagger—impressed with their work on Beck's Odelay—wanted to bring The Dust Brothers in to work with the band. Richards, typically, wasn't keen on the idea, thus the only tracks that would bear their influence would be "Anybody Seen My Baby", "Saint of Me" and "Might as Well Get Juiced"; it was thus the first, and so far only, Stones album to feature sampling. A few extra producers would also contribute to give the project a more rounded feel.
Bridges to Babylon was recorded during the spring into summer months of 1997 in Los Angeles in a matter of four months—one of their most concise periods of recording in years—and was being mastered just as projected lead single, "Anybody Seen My Baby?", was discovered to sound like another famous song. Richards' daughter, Angela, brought it to her father's attention that The Rolling Stones' new song bore a striking resemblance to k.d. lang's 1992 hit "Constant Craving" in its chorus. Seeking to avoid any possible future legal entanglements, lang and her co-writer Ben Mink were credited with Jagger and Richards on the potentially offending song. Upon its release, it would reach #22 in the UK and become a US radio rock hit.
Bridges to Babylon, containing an unprecedented three solo moments by Keith Richards, was released to mixed reviews and it reached #6 in the UK and #3 in the US, where it was certified Platinum by the RIAA in November 1997. As of January 2010, Bridges to Babylon has sold 1.1 million copies in the U.S. Further singles "Saint of Me" and "Out of Control" were also minor hits.
Eight different musicians played bass on the album: Jeff Sarli, Jamie Muhoberac, Blondie Chaplin, Don Was, Danny Saber, Darryl Jones, Me'shell Ndegeocello, and Doug Wimbish.
The Stones had become a touring phenomenon by this point. The Bridges to Babylon Tour in 1997 consisted of 108 shows, making it the second largest grossing North American tour of all time.
Opening track 'Flip The Switch', though, is a slice of prime-time Stones. Charlie's whipcrack snare and those familiar jagged riffs frame Jagger's tale of a man on Death Row. An unspectacular if reassuring start. Things improve with first single 'Anybody Seen My Baby' with its burbling, funky bass and haunting keyboards. Jagger even does a little rap.