Looking at Rolling Stones: Voodoo Lounge, you may be hard-pressed to remember a time when the Stones were capable of making music so tender and brutal it could take your breath away. In fact, so completely does this extruded corporate product misinterpret the idea of multimedia — that text, audio, and video can be combined to create a deeper experience — that it trashes the band’s remaining credibility despite the concurrent release of the acoustic album Stripped.
The CD-ROM’s concept has been lifted intact from last year’s Prince Interactive: You navigate through rooms in a swankily designed fantasy mansion, clicking around to discover hidden concert footage, interviews, and mixing boards that let you control which song plays in which room. But where the Prince disc reflected its star’s randy goofiness, Voodoo Lounge indicates only how superficial the Stones have become. The rooms are full of glam types, few of whom do anything when clicked on. When you stumble on an audio or video interview with Keith or Mick, it’s either unintelligible or trite. You can find lyrics in the bathrooms, but don’t expect to hear music while you read them. Oh, and you’d better like the tepid songs from 1994’s Voodoo Lounge album, because there’s no other Stones music here.
However, just when you’ve written this disc off as a prime example of new-media cluelessness, you may find yourself in the mansion’s VIP room. The walls are covered with photos and information about blues, country, and R&B greats, and there’s a screen showing rare footage of the artists whose music the Stones used as building blocks throughout their career. Here at last, in a grainy black-and-white clip of Howlin’ Wolf snarling through ”Dust My Broom,” is the sense of genuine danger the Stones once manufactured on their own. Too bad you have to endure a lounge act to get there. D