LONDON The Rolling Stones released new single "Doom and Gloom" on Thursday, their first new song in over six years, and early reviews were mixed.
Celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, the British rock veterans behind "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and "Honky Tonk Women" have gone back to their roots in a fast-tempo, blues track described variously as "gritty", "dirty" and "swampy".
Doom and Gloom is one of two new songs on their upcoming greatest hits album "GRRR!", which hits shelves on November 12, and there was a sense of relief among critics that the track sounded like the Stones of old.
"Received music industry wisdom has it that new Rolling Stones material exists purely to flog compilation albums or tour tickets," wrote Dan Silver in the Mirror tabloid.
"It's with some relief that we report it's actually rather good," he added in a three-out-of-five star review.
Neil McCormick of the Daily Telegraph also gave Doom and Gloom three stars, saying it was "business as usual" for the band and drawing comparisons between the song and the "basement rock" of their acclaimed 1972 album "Exile on Main Street".
Both critics argued that the song's weakest point was lead singer Mick Jagger's vocals.
"The best bit is when he stops singing and starts blowing," said McCormick of the harmonica interlude.
Silver praised the "nicotine-stained chords" of Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards on guitars and Charlie Watts's "customary magic" on the drums, but added:
"If there's a weak link here then it's actually Jagger, who honks and caterwauls over the track like one of his own tribute artists. His extended enunciation is excruciating - almost to the point of parody in places."
Music magazine NME called Doom and Gloom a "'Gimme Shelter' for Generation Wii.
"The ... new Stones song ... is a revitalizing reminder of what made them great in the first place, a tune that will sit seamlessly amongst their classics. Are you listening, Macca?" it concluded, in a challenge to ex-Beatle Paul McCartney.
Doom and Gloom and GRRR! are part of a series of events to celebrate half a century of the Stones, one of the world's most successful and influential rock and roll bands who started out on July 12, 1962 at the Marquee Club in London's Oxford Street.
The rockers walk the red carpet at the London film festival next week for the premiere of a documentary called "Crossfire Hurricane" and they also published a photograph album in July.
The Museum of Modern Art in New York stages a film retrospective opening on November 15 and the Stones are even helping to decorate London's famous Carnaby Street this Christmas.
(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)