Stones Take Their "Licks"

Jagger and Richards talk new songs

The Rolling Stones' first ever career-spanning compilation, Forty Licks, will be released on October 1st. The two-CD set will bridge the band's early ABKCO material and their more recent Virgin albums; each will be represented by one twenty-track CD.

The latter disc will also feature four new Stones tracks -- "Don't Stop," "Keys to Your Love," "Losing My Touch" and "Stealing My Heart" -- which were recently recorded with producer Don Was, who worked on the band's last two studio albums, 1997's Bridges to Babylon and 1994's Voodoo Lounge. "They're not old tunes that we dug up or even things that were relatively new. These are new new," Mick Jagger told Rolling Stone. "'Don't Stop' is the single-y one. 'Stealing My Heart' is more like garage rock with a hook. 'Key to Your Love' is kind of like a soul ballad, but not very slow. It has a kind of 'Beast of Burden' tempo. And 'Losing My Touch' is Keith singing a ballad. And that is very slow."

Keith Richards says the new songs were an essential exercise before the group began rehearsals in Toronto for an upcoming world tour. "If we came straight to Toronto and hadn't played together since the last show of the last tour, then it would have been straight into the trench, without feeling like we'd done anything in between," he says. According to Richards, the band planned to cut only three or four songs, but ended up with twenty-eight. "I'm not saying they're finished or anything," he says. "But they are basic tracks. They just started piling out. And we've kept going ever since. I daren't hardly say it, but it's probably the best Stones yet -- at least for a long time. With the Stones, it usually takes two or three weeks to knock off the rust. Yet somehow, we were all well oiled. Something was right."

Prior to Forty Licks, the Stones' early years will be remastered and reissued in a series of more than twenty reissues by ABKCO on August 27th. The reissues cover the group's entire Sixties output starting with 1964's England's Newest Hitmakers, running through classics including Aftermath, Between the Buttons, 12X5, Now! The Rolling Stones, Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed (the band's last studio album for ABKCO). Live albums from the era, including Get Your Ya Ya's Out (1970) and compilations including Hot Rocks: 1964-1971 and the three-CD Singles Collection: The London Years will also be reissued.

The band's material following Let It Bleed and Ya Ya's -- starting with 1971's Sticky Fingers -- was remastered and reissued by Virgin in the mid-Nineties.

The reissues mark the Rolling Stones' fortieth anniversary. The band is also marking the occasion with a world tour that will begin in Boston on September 3rd. Forty North American dates are scheduled before the band shuttles off to Europe, Asia and Australia. No Doubt, the Pretenders, Sheryl Crow, Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang are among the opening acts for select U.S. dates.