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Rolling Stones Gather Some Dust (Brothers)

You know there’s something big happening at a recording studio when they’ve got valet parking.

That’s the scene these days at the Ocean Way complex in Hollywood that has become, for another month or so, the Rolling Stones’ world headquarters. It’s where the Stones are working on their next album, which is expected to be released in the summer in advance of a huge (what else?) tour in the fall.

Outside it’s been a beehive of activity, with musicians and friends coming and going throughout the evening and late-night sessions.

Don’t pull your car up to the valet expecting to be ushered in, though. Security is very high for these hush-hush proceedings.

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And the valets might be needed just to handle parking for all the producers involved.

Rather than using one producer for the whole album, as in the past, the Stones are branching out this time. Don Was--who produced the last Stones studio album, 1994’s “Voodoo Lounge,” and 1995’s unplugged-style “Stripped"--is back handling the bulk of the tracks.

But the Stones have also been working with two of the hottest names in the pop world: Babyface, who has topped the charts producing artists ranging from Toni Braxton to Eric Clapton, and the Dust Brothers, the Silver Lake duo behind Beck’s “Odelay.”

And the sound?

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“The basic tracks I heard were very raw, with guitar-driven tracks by Keith [Richards],” says one observer, who asked that his name not be used.

In addition to the Stones themselves--Richards, Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts and Ron Wood--there have been musical contributions from L.A. drummer Jim Keltner, keyboardist-singer Bernie Worrell (who toured with the Stones last time), singer Blondie Chaplin (who was in a ‘70s version of the Beach Boys) and bassist Darryl Jones (who took over for Stones co-founder Bill Wyman on the “Voodoo Lounge” album and tour).

That’s just for the Don Was material, though. The Dust Brothers and Babyface tracks remain more of a mystery, though word around the studio is that both grew out of Mick Jagger’s driving desire to give the band a current edge.

“Mick needs to get [Stones songs] on the radio,” one source says. “The others just want to make a good record. They did a ballad with Babyface, and everyone’s real happy with that. But not everyone sounded blown away so far by the Dust Brothers things. It might be a little experimental for them. But there wasn’t any tension about it or anything.”

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