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On tour - again


It's almost cliche to say that Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones need to hang it up: Wow! Those guys are old. They're so past their peak. They're richer than God. Why in the world are they still touring? But it's impossible today to top or even match the phenomenon that was McCartney and the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

Both acts will release new albums this fall to coincide with national tours. The Stones will play Washington's MCI Center Oct. 3, and Sir Paul Oct. 8. (The Stones will return for an encore at Baltimore's 1st Mariner Arena on Feb. 1.) A Bigger Bang, in stores Sept. 6, will be Mick and the gang's first new album since 1997's Bridges to Babylon. Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard, due Sept. 13, will be the former Beatle's 20th studio album since leaving the Fab Four.

Say what you want about these old, rich dudes, there's no denying that they're pop titans.

The Stones, the sexier, harder-edged antithesis of the Beatles, presaged punk by a decade. Studying and covering the works of Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Slim Harpo and Howlin' Wolf, the band helped introduce a generation to the blues. And they didn't just steal the styles of those blues men. The band used them as a foundation and expanded on them. The Stones never forgot their roots.

In 1966, the guys brought Howlin' Wolf, one of their idols, on the teen show Shindig. John Lee Hooker was a guest on the group's 1989 Steel Wheels tour. The Stones, in a major way, helped broaden the audience of these blues masters.

McCartney never garnered much critical respect during his solo career. But he sold more records than his former band-mates. His hits with Wings or alone were, at times, unabashedly hollow. (Remember "Silly Love Songs"?)

But the man's effortless gift of melody is a marvel. He's a master craftsman of pop. Besides, McCartney is allowed the occasional mindless tune. He has penned substantive, poetic gems such as "Yesterday," "Eleanor Rigby," "Let It Be" and on and on.

As long as he and the Stones feel the need, and as long as there are fans out there willing to shell out the bucks for a ticket, the guys will deliver. And the pop world is all the better for it.

For ticket information on the McCartney and Stones shows at MCI, call Ticketmaster at 410-547-SEAT or visit

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