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Monday, 23 January 2017
The Rolling Stones: Live/Solo/Compilation Albums Part Two 1975-1988
You can now buy 'Yesterday's Papers - The Alan's Album Archives Guide To The Music Of The Rolling Stones' in e-book form by clicking here!
Version: Out Of Time/Don't Lie To Me/Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind/Each
and Every Day Of The Year/Heart Of Stone/I'd Much Rather Be With The Boys/Walkin'
Thru The Sleepy City//We're Wastin' Time/Try A Little Harder/I Don't Know
Why/If You Let Me/Jiving Sister Fanny/Downtown Suzie/Family/Memo From
Turner/I'm Going Down
US edition omits 'Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind' and 'We're Wastin' Time'
"Why when the children grow up and
leave do they still remember their nursery rhymes?"
measure of just how strong the Stones' 19650s had been, this unsanctioned and
unwanted collection of outtakes by old label Decca couldn't have come at a
worst time. Compiled by the 'enemy', old manager Allen Klein, it was released
to combat a run of bootlegs of similar material and 'replaced' one Bill Wyman
had already spent quite some time compiling (effectively this album minus the
run of demo sessions). Released in the gap between low points 'It's Only Rock
'n' Roll' and 'Black and Blue' this set of demos and abandoned studio takes
suddenly seemed so full of life and imaginative, in comparison to the
cul-de-sac the Stones had (thankfully temporarily) found themselves in. Most of
the songs on the album dated back to 1964 and 1965 and half aren't strictly
Stones recordings at all but demo sessions starring either Mick or Mick and
Keith alone with session men (with a pre-fame Jimmy Page on lead guitar). Most
of the songs they never returned to again (the exceptions being the charming
first try at a country-style 'Heart Of Stone' and a noisier 'Out Of Time') and
none of the covers charted (Chris Farlowe's 'Time' aside), making this a highly
valuable set of compositions a little deeper and little more epic than the
average Stones recordings of the day. More than anything else the set reveals what a
great vocalist Mick was even on a day when he was a Stone alone in an alien
studio and only needed to lay down a basic vocal - he never gave less than his
all, at least in this era and 'Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind' and 'Each
and Every Day' in particular are amongst his best work. However the demo songs
that make up almost all the first side are still eclipsed by the glorious
full-on Stones rant of 'Don't Lie To Me', an R and B cover that most definitely
deserved a release on period album 'Out Of Our Heads'.
is patchier but still has its moments, gathering together a run of songs from
1966 to the end of the band's time with the label in 1969. Of these the best
songs are a charming 'Aftermath' style folk ballad 'If You Let Me' (though it
actually dates from the 'Button ' sessions), Mick's solo song from the
'Performance' song 'Memo From Turner', the glorious 'Let It Bleed' band jam
'Jiving Sister Fannie' that's far more fun than anything that made that record
and the astonishing cover of Stevie Wonder's 'I Don't Know Why', which in terms
of backing sounds like a gloriously joyous track. However it's the song the
band were making in July 1969 when the phone rang to tell them that Brian had
died and Mick's haunted, ghostly vocal is anything but joyous, the shrieks and
howls of pain anything but acting. No wonder they left it in the vaults, but
it's one of their most important covers. The rest of the side can't match it,
but is still more important than most similar outtake sets odds and ends, most
notably a guesting Stills guitar part on 'I'm Goin' Down'. The Stones may have
been appalled by it, but actually 'Metamorphosis' was a welcome reminder of
just how important and consistent a band the Stones had once been and came
along at just the right time, with even their abandoned songs a level above
most groups'. The title is a clever one too, with many of these songs in an abandoned
half-state of completion, although the front cover (apparently adapted from
Franz Kafka's description of 'Metamophosis') is typically Decca-ugly, with the
band as a bunch of insects wearing human heads as masks. Oh well, perhaps we
should be grateful that Decca didn't go with their original idea of an outtakes
set named 'Necrophilia' - goodness only knows what sleeve we'd have got to go
"Made In The Shade"
Stones Records/Atlantic, June 1975)
Sugar/Tumbling Dice/Happy/Dance Little Sister/Wild Horses//Angie/Bitch/It's
Only Rock and Roll (But I Like It)/Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)/Rip This
"Baby, Baby, I don't need no
jewels in my crown"
unnecessary bare-bones compilation, given that Rolling Stones records only had
the rights to the post-Decca stuff, with this album covering just the 'Sticky
Fingers' 'Exile On Main Street' 'Goat's Head Soup' and 'It's Only Rock 'n'
Roll' years. It was put together simply to give the band something to promote
during the 1975 tour when Ronnie Wood joined the band and needed to get up to
speed and not really worth buying if you own any of the four original albums,
with only 'shades' of hearing all four records complete. Luckily those three
albums do cover many of the best Stones recordings, but alas not many of them
were released as singles so what we get is the over-rated 'Brown Sugar' and
'It's Only Rock 'n' Roll' alongside flops like 'Doo Doo Doo Doo' and 'Happy'.
We don't even have a complete singles collection here either, with 'Ain't Too
Proud To Beg' going missing. Few fans would rate 'Dance Little Sister' or 'Rip
This Joint' as the band's best album tracks either. What would have been far
more interesting would be for Rolling Stones Records to have revisited each
album in a double set quoting a side per album, padded out with period B-sides
('Bitch' is here, but 'Let It Rock' isn't). The packaging too is ridiculous: a
woman in a deckchair with headphones sunbathing in front of the pyramids: not
sure that's the image I got from listening to these records somehow. The
pyramids have lasted several thousand centuries as the pinnacle of human
engineering; I don't think this album will do the same, somehow. It did,
however, sell enough copies to go top twenty in the UK and top ten in the
States, which is more a sign of how many people the tour played to than this
album's worth and oddly was re-issued in 2005 by Virgin when they bought up the
rights to the band's back catalogue, even though they'd already released all
the songs individually on CD in the previous few years. At least the Stones
carried on their Decca tradition of giving their compilations daft names I
Recorded July 1975, Released April 2012)
Tonk Women/All Down The Line/If You Can't Rock Me/Get Off My Cloud/Star
Star/Gimme Shelter/Ain't Too Proud To Beg/You Gotta Move/You Can 't Always Get
What You Want/Happy/Tumbling Dice/Band Intros/It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I
Like It)/Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)/Fingerprint File/Angie/Wild
Horses/That's Life (Billy Preston)/Outer Space (Billy Preston)/Brown
Sugar/Midnight Rambler/Rip This Joint/Street Fighting Man/Jumpin' Jack
Flash/Sympathy For The Devil
"Rip this joint, gonna rip yours
too, some brand new steps and some weight to lose"
face of it this doesn't look very appetising: a complete gig from one of the
ones mashed up for the official album 'Love You Live' and it's not even the La
Macamba club session. An all too visibly fed up Mick Taylor has already handed
in his notice - this is one of his last shows - and Keith is so far gone he's managing
to stand up only through sheer will power. This is another one of those archive
Stones CD and DVD releases that are much more enjoyable to listen to than to
watch, where the band are struggling to hide up what they're suffering in sight
more than sound. However, this is a fun little gig from a band at the end of a
most marvellous run and of all the Stones tours this is the one that got the
levels of excess and rockstar posing just right: Mick's got his routine down
pat but isn't just going through the motions yet, while the interaction between
the band is still strong, Mick and Keith having great fun making poses on
stage. The set list is heavy on the classics as usual and bang up to date with
one of the very earliest live performances of 'It's Only Rock 'n' Roll' (which
already sounds like a parody of itself even in this early stage), but there's
also an impressive range of more obscure material too - for more or less the
last time. A rocky 'All Down The Line', a hard-hitting 'If You Can't Rock Me',
a fun 'Star Star', a bluesy 'You Gotta Move', a moving 'Fingerprint File' and a
fierce 'Rip This Joint' don't get played very often and on this evidence you
wonder why - all more than hold their own against the classics, with many of
the old war horses from the 1960s making room. Billy Preston shines too on his
two song cameo, his reward for helping the band out on this tour and giving the
Stones a chance to take a breather without letting the momentum of the gig die
out with a full-on break. It's the classics though that still shine the best,
with the greatest live 'Gimme Shelter' played more as a duel than duet by Keith
and Mick Taylor, who seem to be playing out their annoyances with each other on
guitar with Mick J uncomfortably trapped in the middle and a slightly slower 'Doo
Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)' which swaps menace for the daft harmonies of the
original and ends in a voodoo boogie shootout, which sounds like a pretty good
deal to me. There's not quite enough here to make this a Stones golden age or
anything and the band aren't playing with quite the same telepathic powers as
their 1970-1973 live work. But this is still a great band on fine form and hearing
it in all its unedited glory is a lot more enjoyable than sitting through 'Love
You Live' ever was. This LA Friday sounds like the start of a highly enjoyable
Gold: The Very Best Of The Rolling Stones"
(Decca, November 1975)
C'Mon/I Wanna Be Your Man/Not Fade
Away/Carol/It's All Over Now/Little Red Rooster/Time Is On My Side/The Last
Time/( I Can't Get No) Satisfaction//Get Off My Cloud/19th Nervous Breakdown/As
Tears Go By/Under My Thumb/Lady Jane/Out Of Time/Paint It, Black//Have You Seen
Your Mother Baby Standing In The Shadow?/Let's Spend The Night Together/Ruby
Tuesday/Yesterday's Papers/We Love You/She's A Rainbow/Jumpin' Jack Flash//Honky
Tonk Women/Sympathy For The Devil/Street Fighting Man/Midnight Rambler/Gimme
The CD Re-Issue Adds: Tell Me/Heart Of
Stone/Play With Fire/I'm Free/Mother's Little Helper/Dandelion/2000 Light Years
From Home/No Expectations/Let It Bleed/You Can't Always Get What You Want/Brown
can't always get what you want - but if you try sometime you might just find
you get what you need!"
weren't about to let the public buy a modern-day Stones album when they could
be buying some old tracks too, so 'Made In The Shade' was shaded by yet another
double album collection of old 1960s classics, hot on the heels of
'Metamorphosis' (1975 was a good year for Stones compilations). Though less
admired or revered than 'Hot Rocks', this is an even better and lengthier
collection of every single the band released, alongside most of the B sides and
several classic album tracks. Frustratingly the original ran just too long to
fit on a single CD, but Decca do the kind thing and in 2007 fleshed the album
out with most of the more obvious tracks that didn't make the original. No
rarities of course, but still quite a lot of gold in terms of musical currency
for the price.The result is a far more palatable single-shop way of hearing the
60s stones than the discs on '40 Licks' and 'Grrrr!' and highly recommended.
The re-issue even set new standards, being the first release by a mainstream
rock and roll band available on a computer USB stick. Fittingly, it sold enough
copies to go 'gold', rare for a re-issued compilation.
Bill Wyman "Stone Alone"
Stone Records, '1976')
Quarter To Three/Gimme Just One Chance/Soul Satisfying/Apache Woman/Every Sixty
Seconds/Get It On//Feat/Peanut Butter Time/Wine & Wimmen/If You Wanna Be
Happy/What's The Point?/No More Foolin'
"Wobbling like jelly on a jelly
plate, I know it ain't jam 'cause jam don't shake!"
second album comes with the usual clever hi-jinks (the funniest being the
title, one so good he'll be using it a lot from now on) and the usual slightly
detached air of bemusement. You can understand from these albums simultaneously
why Bill was so angry that he felt his work was being overlooked for Stones
records - and why the others felt his material would never have fitted in a million
years. Many Stones fans have scratched their heads over this album's
combination of modern electronic pop (years before it was fashionable) and arty
humour (years after it was fashionable) and wondered how someone could have
spent so long in a rock and roll band without showing any sign in his own music
of rock and roll. However, eccentric as it is, mad as it is, unlistenable as it
frequently becomes, there's an ambition and eclecticism at work here that makes
'Stone Alone' a far easier album to admire than, say, that year's Stones album
'Black and Blue'. Far from resting on his laurels Bill has left his laurels a
world away on an album that only makes sense if you're speaking the same
language: the question is whether you have the patience to learn the new
language. If you do you'll find a hidden poet who actually does know it and is
only a line away from a pun. There's no Chuck Berry riffs to get you out of
trouble, no guitar solos to lighten the mood, no virtuoso instrumentation and
only so-so vocals, while the songs are arty cold-blooded intellectual exercises
rather than warm-hearted emotional responses. On its own terms though, based on
its own rule structure, 'A Stone Alone' is probably Bill's best album and one
of the better Stones solo records.
first album this a 'parody' record in the grand 'Rutles' tradition, but rather
than focussing on rock as before or the rock business as per later, here Bill
laughs at just about everything. Doo-wop, jazz, blues, soul, pop, disco, reggae
- it all gets the Wyman treatment and Bill's sharp ears generally pick up on
all the right clichés: the chord structures, the up-itself egotism, the
instrument sounds. If you ever need a jingle to be played in thirty different
styles, Bill sounds like your one-man shop to go to as all the styles feel
authentic and by giving himself a wider palette the bassist makes it clear he's
laughing at everything, not picking on his own particular brand. The trouble,
like the other Wyman records, is that this record spends so long laughing at
what it's against that you don't get any real sense about what it's for: unlike
10cc, who add karma twists to their comedic wheels or hint at emotion
underneath the humour, there's nothing really here to care about, no characters
to side with, no plot lines to get emotionally attached to. Heard in small
doses this is fine, but heard across a whole LP or even a sequence of them it
can become wearing, like the bloke at a party who won't tell you anything about
himself but keeps talking in one-liners and quips all night. Another record not
for everyone, then, but if you want to start somewhere and don't want to fork
out for the two-disc best of Bill set (schizophrenically divided between comedy
solo and serious Rhythm Kings work) then this is probably your best bet: the
lyrics are funnier, the styles add variety and the poppy electronica twinkle is
impressively ahead of its time, sounding more at one with records made a full
ten years later than period punk and prog.
'A Quarter To Three' is jazz-pop with a real 1950s sound as Bill dances until the
early hours 'all over the room'. So authentic is the girl singer backing, the
parping horns and the boogie woogie piano only Bill's delivery doesn't sound
like the real thing.
'Gimme Just One More Chance' is a doo-wop parody with some of the snappiest one-liners on the
record and another 1950s style backing.
'Soul Satisfying' is the soul genre's turn and equally spot on: 'If you choose me,
don't abuse me, you can try me, gratify me, but baby don't deny me...' Of
course the fact that Bill couldn't sound less like a powerful sexual soul
singer and sings like a robot makes this track all the funnier.
'Apache Woman' sounds like funky Shadows or a more talented T Rex with the best
hook on the album that in different hands could have been a hit single. The
lyrics don't say much more than 'let's get it on', though, which is a shame.
'Every Sixty Seconds' is a country-blues, with Bill listing all sorts of times of the
day and getting increasingly irate as he 'throws his life away' every sixty
seconds, every twenty fours, every twelve months...you get the idea.
'Get It On'
is a boogie woogie pastiche that sounds suspiciously like it has Stu guesting
on the rockabilly piano, while the song comes suspiciously close to a Gilbert
O'Sullivan song as Bill warns his missus to 'get out or get it on'. I can
almost see a medallion flash from here.
'Feet' is the
album's one cover song, with session veteran Danny Kortchmar (he of the
Crosby-Nash record series) getting in on the joke with a song about, well, feet
as you may have guessed. The narrator wants walk away but his wife has him by a
rope and is about to hang him if he wanders too far. By now the laughs are
getting a bit less to be honest.
'Peanut Butter Time' is the album highlight, a sly disco-funk fusion that sounds like
Bill is having fun at his old friend Jagger, with some panting and
over-exaggerated rock hooks as he 'looks for a pick me up'. Does he find it in
sex, drugs or rock and roll? Nope. Peanut butter, which is the part of that
list they always seem to leave out.
'Wine and Wimmen' sounds like Bill laughing at himself with the tale of a
boozed-up sex maniac who wonders why he never gets called to parties anymore.
It's the hardest, roughest, song on the album but together with Bill's hard,
rough voice that's not necessarily a compliment.
'If You Wanna Be Happy' is another cover song, a daft hippie reggae song first released,
as a serious song, by Jimmy Soul and sent up for all its trippy-dippy silliness
by Bill. You sense that reggae purist Keith had a few words to say after this
one, if he ever bothered to hear the album.
'What's The Point?' is a country spoof original because 'it suits my style' and 'the
people round my way don't like me anymore. Cue fiddles and lyrics about getting
back to the old honest faithful land even though the dog is sick and the
chickens ain't laying...actually I think I added those last two points but you
get the idea.
'No More Foolin' is another of the album's high points, a spot on jazz parody
that probably had Charlie not speaking to him either. Bill's Louis Armstrong
style vocals are surprisingly good and suit him more than his natural style,
while the backing captures the floaty-mood-with-speedy-oboes groove pretty
then, a pretty solid second album with some excellent pastiches and only one or
two misfires, with 'Stone Alone' easily Bill's most consistent and eclectic
album. Whether it's a good album depends on whether or not you consider aping
other people's styles and stealing all the best/worst bits represents 'proper'
music making or not. As usual with Wyman the effect is 'Why?' rather than wow,
but there are some genuinely funny moments here.
"Love You Live"
Stones Records, September 1977)
(Fanfare For The Common Man)/Honky Tonk Women/If You Can't Rock Me/Get Off My
Cloud/Happy//Hit Stuff/Star Star/Tumbling Dice/Fingerprint File/You Gotta
Move//You Can't Always Get What You Want/Mannish Boy/Crackin' Up/Little Red
Rooster/Around and Around//It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It!)/Brown
Sugar/Jumpin' Jack Flash/Sympathy For The Devil
"I feel like stroking everybody!
Billy's open for offers, Charlie is a sort of maybe, Bill just wants to take
photographs of girl's legs, Ronnie Wood's gay, Keith of course is completely
soundtrack of the Rolling Stones' decline from one of the most powerful bands
of their generation, feared by establishments everywhere, to stadium-pleasing
money-makers an awful lot of fans hate 'Love You Live' for an awful lot of
reasons. Compared to 'Ya Yas' or even 'Got Live If You Want It' the band are
low on power, ideas and inspiration and the fact that this album exists as a
double when the other two don't seems like some cruel irony played on us by the
music Gods. Ronnie Wood's arrival hasn't yet given the Stones the boost that
they'll receive on 'Some Girls' and the band are clearly still feeling their
way into their new era, afraid to take any risks or play anything too
complicated (although an impressive 'Fingerprint File' that sounds noticeably
tighter than the rest suggests either that the band could have pulled that sort
of thing off rather better as it happened or a lot of overdubbing was going on).
Mick sounds bored though and Keith sounds ill (no wonder really given the
events of the year). Even Charlie isn't really all that good tonight, less in
control of the band than usual and content to let the songs drift with half a
percussive hand on the tiller. Keith's descent into drugs chaos hangs over the
album like a wasted wayward ghost, slowing the rhythms and slurring the riffs, in
stark contrast to the pure joy of the earlier two records, though it's another
tragedy that marrs this album: engineer and tape archivist Keith Harwood had a
lot to do with shaping and cataloguing this album, the band largely taking up
his suggestions for the track listing from a variety of show stretching back as
far as 1975; he died in a car accident, thought to be under the influence of
drugs, shortly before the album's release and receives a special tribute back
on the back cover, unusually warm-hearted for the Stones.
vibes didn't end there: wanting to get an extra set of songs the Stones booked
themselves a short tour In Toronto,
including a club date before the band's smallest audience in years at the El
Mocambo (fittingly, it's known colloquially as the 'El Mo' in part after slide player
Elmo Lewis, Brian Jones' big hero). Keith never made rehearsals and the band
got worried. It turned out that he and wife Anita had been busted for drugs in
his Toronto hotel room, an event that would have major repercussions for the
rest of the decade. Far more serious - and less dubious legally - than the
arrests of a decade before (Keith had so many drugs on him he was being charged
for trafficking because it seemed inconceivable to non-rock and rollers that
two people would need so much for a short stay), for a time it seemed likely that
it would be the end of the Stones, with Keith likely to be behind bars for
years. For a time 'Love You Life' looked like it was about to be the Stones'
last. Only interventions by the Prime Minister's wife Margret Trudeau and a
blind fan who'd Keith had befriended and made sure was looked after by Stones
crew and wrote to the judge on her own merit saved him from jail time. Incidentally
the supporting act, a local act named April Wine, enjoyed such a boost from
being involved with this gig that they released a live album of their own using
the tapes the Stones had made, released as 'Live At The El Mocamaba'. It's a
better listen than the Stones' own, frankly.
for all the record's shoddy reputation 'Love You Live' would have been a
fitting conclusion, of sorts. Live albums generally look back more than they do
forward, but out of all the Stones' concert albums this is the one that feels
the most nostalgic - especially the highlights which all come from the 'new'
club dates. While the Stones are on fumbling, bumbling form throughout this
section (what was originally the album's third side in the days of vinyl)
there's a cosy informality about this date that makes the band feel more like
'real' people than those dots in the distance singing old tunes on auto-pilot.
The first recordings of two very Stonesy cover songs that used to be in their
sets: 'Mannish Boy' and 'Crackin' Up' are worth hearing, while the unexpected
return of 'Little Red Rooster' proves you can still teach an old hen new
tricks. Had the whole album been recorded that way - in fact the 'Checkerboard
Lounge' gig of 1981 released in the 'archive' series and 'Strpped' use a
similar idea - it might have become a really great live album.
there are those other three sides to go, all of which sound like 'Ya Yas'
playing on a slower speed. It's not that the band play badly so much as they
play apathetically: there's no meaning here, just a band trying to play without
falling over while Mick - a more emotional singer than many give him credit for
on his day - depends on the state of his band more than most singers and can't
create feeling all on his own. Sticking so many mid-paced tempo songs together
is asking for trouble too: the band just slide into too similar grooves with
every song sounding the same, more or less, unless you know the songs really
well. There are some terribly misconceived ideas here too: Aaron Copeland's
'Fanfare For The Common Man' must be the most pompous walking-onto-the-stage
opening ever and really doesn't deserve to take up two minutes of the record as
heard through tinny p.a. speakers, while the new addition to the Stones stage
of female backing singers compounds the problems of the band sounding distant
and emotionless. Only on a few of the
'other' songs does the album finally find a groove: 'Hot Stuff' is hotter than
the original on 'Black and Blue' simply because the band know it better and
have turned it into more of a quasi funk-rock Stones song than the full-on
George Clinton parody of the original; 'If You Can't Rock Me' features some
great drumming at last, even if I'm not convinced by Billy Preston's piano solo
or the segue into 'Get Off My Cloud'; 'Happy' features the ugliest gruffest
vocal of Keith's career and he's rarely sounded so miserable or poorly either,
which leads to a whole new level of meaning for this song about celebrating
having nothing. Typically, these are the songs in the set that won't last until
the next tour while everything else here pretty much, all played abysmally,
will be in the Stones' set lists more or less untouched to the present day,
sounding worse each time. 'Love You Life' features the worst version of all the
many 'Sympathy For The Devil's though, turning a fascinating complex epic song
about mankind's capacity for violence into a slow seven minute
percussion-filled chug: the devil of that song is in the detail and this is
just a very basic outlined sketch. Punk exists at least partly because of this
album and that song in particular.
controversy surrounds the album: that cover. The band went back to Andy Warhol
for a new sleeve for the first time since 'Sticky Fingers' and got a far more
traditional cover this time around, a typically Warhol stencilled drawing with
wavy lines and bright colours based around a caricature of Jagger seemingly
eating his own hand. Warhol was under
the impression the Stones would do what they quite often did: keep the band and
album name for the spine. Instead Jagger scrawled 'Rolling Stones - Love You
Live' in his own handwriting over the top before it was sent to printers:
Warhol was not amused and fell out with the band big time for 'selling out'.
Most fans felt the same. Not the best or happiest live album in the Stones'
canon, it remained until 'Live Licks' the longest and gets marks for quantity
of not for quantity. Thankfully an awakening was at hand...
Records, October 1977)
Fade Away/It's All Over Now/Tell Me/Good Times Bad Times/Time Is On My
Side/Little Red Rooster/The Last Time/Play With Fire/(I Can't Get No)
Satisfaction//Get Off My Cloud/I Wanna Be Your Man/As Tears Go By/19th Nervous
Breakdown/Mother' Little Helper/Have You Seen Your Mother Baby Standing In The
Shadow?/Paint It Black//Lady Jane/Let's Spend The Night Together/Ruby
Tuesday/Dandelion/We Love You/She's A Rainbow/2000 Light Years From
Home//Jumpin' Jack Flash/Gimme Shelter/Street Fighting Man/Honky Tonk
Women/Sympathy For The Devil/Wild Horses/Brown Sugar
"You know I used to love them -
but since they left6 the label it's all over now!"
This time Decca don't even release an album themselves but pass the rights over
to the smaller Arcade label who don't have the means to put together a proper
compilation from scratch so they simply repeat 'Hot Rocks' and move the tracks
around a bit, while adding an accompanying front cover of a papier mache mouth
complete with giant tongue. It's hard to challenge the idea that this is the
band's old record label sticking their tongue out at the people who bought it
or the Stones themselves, un-consulted as ever over how their old material was
being marketed. It's a surprise, in fact, that there wasn't a sequel with two
papier mache fingers. The music is of course is a delight. In fact by including
'Lady Jane' and 'We Love You' in place of a couple of the weaker songs from
'Hot Rocks' this record actually improves on perfection and beats even 'Hot
Rocks'. Better yet, it's almost in order, though second single 'I Wanna Be Your
Man' seems somewhat randomly inserted in the middle of a flurry of songs from
1966. At thirty tracks you can't complain that they weren't being generous
either - but, lordy, is any of that worth it given the very negative fact that
we collectors have to live with that sleeve? Suddenly that rejected artwork for
'Beggar's Banquet' seems the height of taste and respectability...
"Some Girls - Live In Texas
Rock, Recorded July 1978, Released November 2011)
It Rock/All Down The Line/Honky Tonk Women/Star Star/When The Whip Comes Down/
Beast Of Burden/Miss You/Just My Imagination (Runnin' Away With
Me)/Shattered/Respectable/Far Away Eyes/Love In Vain/Tumbling Dice/Happy/Sweet
Little Sixteen/Brown Sugar/Jumpin' Jack Flash
"Uh! Shedoobee! Shattered!
Stones' second archive release is another good
choice, taken from one of the earliest concerts with Ronnie Wood as an
official member. Like the 'Some Girls' album the tour was the band's most
energetic in years and is performed with a punkish energy all night, separated
only by ballads that suddenly seem twice as slow by comparison. For once this
is a show worth owning on DVD as well as CD, with a sweating Stones really
putting their all into their performance and Mick on top form as he leers and
cheers with the crowd. Ronnie and Keith are at the peak of their telepathy too,
perhaps the last occasion when both looked they were really enjoying themselves
at the same time. There's also a fun ramble through an exclusive cover of 'Sweet
Little Sixteen', an obvious Chuck Berry number and it's a surprise the band
hadn't recorded it before. The one slight downside is that the band are having
such fun playing the new songs in their set, which all sound fabulous - a
slinky slowed down 'Miss You' and a thrilling one-two punch of 'Shattered' into
'Respectable' taken at speed - that the oldies tend to get rather thrown away,
with a garbled 'Honky Tonk Women' and a tired 'Brown Sugar' clearly less
inspired. 'Far Away Eyes', unbelievably, sounds worse than it did on the record
(Keith sounds like he's being eaten alive while he sings the backing vocals)
and you can tell by the muted reception that the crowd haven't got a clue what
to make of this country music parody. Only 'Happy' works well when played with
the same intensity as the new numbers and it's easily the best the band have
released so far, with Mick amiably growling alongside Keith's fading vocals. Still, with this much energy going on the
Stones had to take a break from this intensity level sometimes. The Stones at
their energetic best, this might even beat the original album for an adrenalin
rush, begging the question as to why so many of the other later Stones concerts
seem so flat and lifeless by comparison. The Stones really should have ended
their career, sounding even younger than they did at the beginning. If the
punks weren't worried by a band twenty years their senior, they should have
been - a candidate for the greatest Rolling Stones live set of them all.
Can't Always Get What You Want/Take It Or Leave It/You Better Move On/Time Is
On My Side/Pain In My Heart/Dear Doctor/As Tears Go By//Ruby Tuesday/Play With
Fire/Lady Jane/Sittin' On The Fence/Back Street Girl/Under The Boardwalk/Heart
"You can turn off and on more
times than a flashing neon sign"
Decca's set of rock and roll songs here, inevitably, are the ballads, though
'Soft Stones' would have been a better name given that songs like 'Dear Doctor'
and 'Under The Boardwalk' aren't exactly slow, just slower than normal. Though
impressively lengthy in terms of running time, this set features some curious
selections all round, passing over, say, 'She Smiled Sweetly' and 'I Am
Waiting' in favour of obscure early cover songs even the band themselves had
probably forgotten they'd ever done. Nice to see 'Play With Fire' and 'Lady
Jane' given another airing, though, and there's enough here to prove that even
the Decca-era Stones were more than 'just' a rock band with a penchant for
ballads that were cut above most period band's attempts.
Waits For No One: Anthology 1971-1977"
(Rolling Stones Records, June 1979)
Time Waits For No One/Bitch/All Down
The Line/Dancing With Mr D/Angie//Star Star/If You Can't Rock Me-Get Off My
Cloud/Hand Of Fate/Crazy Mama/Fool To Cry
crossed in pleasure, the stream flows on by"
don't know about you, but to me 'Anthology' implies something big and epic,
covering a momentous journey from starting point to a final ending several
twists and turns later, across decades. Limiting it to six years and ten tracks
seems more like a 'highlights' than an 'Anthology', but title aside this is the
best of all the many goes the Stones had at trying to condense their difficult
1970s onto a single disc record. Impressively the band digs deeper than just
the usual hits and offers at least a song apiece from every album from 'Sticky
Fingers' through to 'Love You Live'. Curiously the album best represented is
not 'Fingers' or 'Exile' but 'Goat's Head Soup' with three selections, but
given what an unsung classic that album is in the Stones pantheon of classics
I'll let that pass (though not before wondering why these three songs were
chosen over 'Winter' '100 Years Ago' or 'Can You Hear The Music?') By and large
the better songs are chosen and it's a relief to hear a 70s Stones set without
having to sit through 'Brown Sugar' or 'It's Only Rock 'n' Roll' all over
again. Unfortunately, though, the packaging leaves a lot to be desired (a
questionable collage of Stones flyers and ticket stubs) and being a
British-only release, never issued on CD, it's the hardest of the 70s
compilations to track down as well as the best. Typical!
Jacket/Alabama/Slow Blues/Baby I Want You/Broken Hands//Giddy Up/ SW5/Spanish/A
"Where is the life that has
actually been lost to the living?"
his earliest interviews, Taylor wasn't talking about the Rolling Stones being
the be all and end all of his career the way that Ronnie Wood was. Taylor, the
shyest and quietest of all the Stones in private as well as public (though
Charlie came close) was unusually adamant on that point, that this was a phase
in his career, not the end of it. The rest of the Stones didn't notice or
comprehend the idea - being a Stones was for life wasn't it? - but it shouldn't
perhaps have been as big a surprise as it became when Mick decided to leave
just five years and five albums into his time with the band. Legend has it that
it was a dispute over songwriting credits on the 'It's Only Rock 'n' Roll'
album but even the band have admitted that was too simple: Taylor just felt
that he'd run as far down the same path with them as he could and go and needed
to go somewhere else now - after all he'd never promised to live his life as a
Stone. The general consensus amongst the Stones camp still seems to be one of
lingering betrayal - Keith is defensive and Mick's successor Ronnie Wood oddly
aggressive about what a chance the guitarist gave up. But it wasn't easy being
the only non-original in one of the leading and most hedonistic rock and roll
bands of their day and Taylor had given his all for as long he felt able,
joining the Stones as a vegan tee-totaller and ending it with a drink and drugs
problem that would have felled anyone with a constitution weaker than Keith
Richards. The split was as inevitable as any split in a band can be - what wasn't
inevitable was what came next.
was too clever a guitarist to just walk out after burning his bridges. He saw
out all his contracts with the Stones (though they still complained that he'd
left at short noticed before making a new LP in 1975), playing some of his best
live work during his final tour in 1973 (as captured on 'The Brussels Affair').
He had a 'new' band to go to, as a double-act with bassist Jack Bruce who was
trying to put together a new 'Cream' (which, sadly, like all his other new 'Creams'
fell apart before recording anything of note - except for a great live gig
recorded for the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1975). He'd hung around the sessions
for the first Ronnie Wood album, easing his replacement and friend into the
band. And he'd also got a lucrative solo contract with CBS on the back of his
work with the Stones. The future seemed secure - so it seems ridiculouswith hindsight that it took five years from
leaving the Stones to make this record - and that there wouldn't be a follow-up
to this record for eleven years (and then only if you can find it!)
ways 'Mick Taylor' shrugs off everything the guitarist had learnt with the
Stones - it's much more in keeping with his pre-Stones work with John Mayall's
Bluesbreakers. While even the Stones had been woken up by punk by 1979, 'Mick
Taylor' is one of those middle aged rocker albums that goes 'la la la I'm not
listening!', with nothing here that couldn't have been recorded back in the
bluesy sixties. That's both a strength and a weakness: you got the feeling with
'Some Girls' that the Stones had never really bought into the new genre but
embraced it's energy and spirit as a reminder of their own beginnings now that
the band was almost 'new' again anyway with Ronnie in the band. 'Mick Taylor'
is often slow and sluggish, repetitive and flat while Mick is far from being a
natural lead vocalist without even Keith's off-key charisma. However, one thing
he always is is sincere and there's a real emotional connection across this
album the Stones hadn't managed in years. Far from being an exercise in guitar
solos, as expected, this is an album of real songs and heartfelt songs that you
sensed Taylor had to release somehow - the idea of having a career off the back
of them was immaterial. 'Mick Taylor' isn't an album to excite the blood the
way that 'Some Girls' does with none of the flashiness you might expect from a
former Stones and you can see that the Stones' drift into prog-rock through
'Goat's Head Soup' and 'It's Only Rock and Roll' may have had more to do than
we ever expected with the band's lead guitarist. However 'Mick Taylor' is a
nice album that repays close attention with some under-rated songs by an
under-rated writer whose vocal also grows on you the more you get to hear it. Mick
deserved so much more of a career than this, though against all odds this album
did chart - briefly - and should surely have sold enough copies for at least a
sequel. Unlucky with timing, Taylor was simply ignored by a musical movement
that shouted much larger than he did - not for the first or last time, sadly.
'Leather Jacket' is reportedly a song started during the 'Exile' sessions - the
Stones may well have been a bit miffed they couldn't 'recycle' it for
'Emotional Rescue' the next year as it's a very Stonesy song. The song may well
be about his old group too, with lines like 'Rock and roll circus - best I've
ever seen' and a chorus that runs 'it's time to be moving on' (the lyrics
perhaps polished off later when Mick was leaving the band). 'You move through
the world as though it's a dance' is also a pretty good summary of the Stones'
touring troupe. A nice energetic start.
is an urgent upbeat blues that's played solo for the first half and is clearly
a hark back to the Bluesbreaker days. Mick's vocal works well here on another
song that seems to be trying to make sense of the big career break: he's spent
the last few years 'living in big hotels, praying for something else' - yes
this life is smaller and poorer now but it's a lot more 'real'.
is much as the title suggests, but it beats most Stones blues courtesy of some
sterling guitar work and a tempo just fast enough not to be sluggish.
minutes 'Baby I Want You'
is the epic of the album and sounds not unlike the melody for 'Time Waits For
No One'. Mick had just got married to first wife Rose in 1975 and this sounds
like a rare love song for her before their marriage turned sour all too
'Broken Hands' is the one track that tries hard to go for the old Stones sound,
with a stinging guitar riff not unlike 'Soul Survivor' played on the steel
guitar and some fascinating lyrics accusing someone of playing mind games.
Presumably it's the Stones 'always hiding behind your shades' while Mick's
sheer joy at having escaped such a confining time to 'run free' is infectious.
Mick seems to agree with his old paymasters on something though: 'Life's so
hard, hit and run'.
is the album's weakest track, a gutbucket blues that features some lovely
guitar work but not an awful lot more, for five long-seeming minutes. Still,
period Stones album 'Emotional rescue' would have probably made it the lead
'S W 5' is a
tribute song to a postal area - the Ear's Court Square area of London. Mick
can't quite bring himself to write a love song so instead he writes about how
happy he is in his new home with a loved one by his side and a baby on the way.
Sweet, though not that memorable.
ends on a 12 minute prog rock suite 'Spanish/A Minor' , which is basically a
set of guitar changes that haven't quite coalesced into a full song. Had Mick
released this immediately on leaving the Stones it would have slotted in well
with the likes of Cat Stevens' 'Foreigner Suite' and Jethro Tull's 'Thick As A Brick' but in 1979 music fans must have
scratched their heads and thought Mick had lost the plot.
second side isn't up to the first, then, but even that it well played and
professionally recorded without the muddy sound or questionable subject matters
of many of the period band songs. Though the album sleeve pictures Mick
literally backed into a corner - with only his guitar for protection - this is
a record remarkably free of recriminations or nasty bickering, just a sense of
disillusionment with the music business replaced with the joy of turning family
man. It's not enough to launch a truly great career, but there's enough here on
this first record to make you wish there'd been a second an awful lot quicker
than there was.
"Sucking In The Seventies"
Stones Records, '1981')
Is Turning To Gold/Hot Stuff/Time Waits For No One/Fool To Cry//Mannish
Boy/When The Whip Comes Down (Live)/If I Was A Dancer (Dance Part Two)/Crazy Mama/Beast
"Laughter, joy and loneliness and
sex and sex and sex!"
popular but rather basic compilation, 'Sucking In The Seventies' tries to sum
up the second half of a difficult decade where 'Made In The Shade' left off.
The drawback of this design is that the band have only released four albums
since then, one of them a live record, with 'Time Waits For No One' thrown in
from 1974's 'It's Only Rock and Roll' for good measure. Thankfully the
compilation improves on 'Made In The Shade' if only because the Stones have
their comeback 'Some Girls' to draw from and the burst of adrenalin from the
three songs picked for this album makes it a more interesting and balanced
listen, while the introduction of rarities such as 'Mannish Boy' from 'Love You Live' and the non album
B-sides 'Everything Is Turning To Gold' and 'If I Was A Dancer' make this a
more rounded and useful set to the collector. There's even an exclusive version
of 'When The Whip Comes Down' recorded on tour in Detroit in 1978 (a show that
surprisingly isn't out in the archives series yet - it's one of the band's
best). However be warned: all the tracks bar two were also pruned for release
here, losing fades or solos along the way for no other reason than to stuff
more tracks onto the original vinyl before losing sound quality and you can
find all of this stuff (barring that one live recording) on other compilations
now, making this set rather superfluous to the modern age Stone man. Bizarrely,
too, the band's only real hits of this period - 'Miss You' and 'Emotional
Rescue' - are both missing, which makes the idea of this being as 'best of'
(With Muddy Waters) "Live At The
Vision, Recorded November 1981, Released July 2012)
Don't Have To Go/Baby Please Don't Go/Hoochy Coochie Man/Long Distance
Call/Mannish Boy/Got My Mojo Workin'/Next Time You See Me/One Eyed Women/Clouds
In My Heart/Champagne and Reefers
"Well you know they sure done hug
and kiss me, telling me 'Muddy - you're the best!' "
this gig is, I'm amazed that the Stones have sanctioned both the CD and
particularly the DVD release. Band hero Muddy Waters effectively uses the band
as his back-up group - but not all at once; instead Mick and Keith/Ronnie sit
at separate tables, called up to do different jobs and barely look at each
other all night. Recorded in the middle of a lengthy 1981 tour (plugging
'Tattoo You') the band have clearly simply had enough of each other and backing
another singer just muddies the waters, as it were. Actually even Muddy himself
gets little to do despite his star billing, with club owner Buddy Guy doing at
least as much work. It's a welcome chance to hear where the band's influences
started, although strangely despite the much-discussed match up there's only
song that the Stones had already recorded (and then only on a recent live LP:
'Mannish Boy'), with a slightly lost opportunity to play, say, 'I Just Wanna
Make Love To You' or 'Rollin' Stone' itself, the track that gave the band their
name. Though everyone's all smiles on stage, you can't help but think that a
few cases of professional jealousy and aggravation are taking place backstage
and that this live set is ultimately a lot more revealing about the 'true'
state of the Stones in 1981 than we were ever supposed to have seen. Once a
legendary bootleg, hailed as the meeting of minds between father and sons, is
actually a pretty boring listen by the standards of both acts.
"Live At Hampton Coliseum"
Recorded December 1981, Released January 2012)
My Thumb/When The Whip Comes Down/Let's Spend The Night
Together/Shattered/Neighbours/Black Limousine/Just My Imagination (Runnin' Away
With Me)/20 Flight Rock/Going-To-A-Go-Go/Let Me Go/Time Is On My Side/Beast Of
Burden/Waiting On A Friend/Let It Bleed/You Can't Always Get What You Want/Band
Introductions/Little T & A/Tumbling Dice/She's So Cold/Hang Fire/Miss
You/Honky Tonk Women/Brown Sugar/Start Me Up/Jumpin' Jack Flash/(I Can't Get
"When her arms enfold me I hear
her tender rhapsody"
set recorded on Keith's 38th birthday (you can hear Mick leading a reluctant
crowd into a chorus of 'Happy Birthday To You!'), this is the complete version
of the best of the handful of American concerts stuck together for the rather
underwhelming 'Still Life' album in 1982. The only person who seemed to work
hard on that album was the editor, who insisted on taking great chunks out of
the songs the Stones were having fun stretching out, but hearing the full gig
as part of the archives set reveals that the Stones were on better and more
imaginative form as was heard on that album. Take the set highlight 'Just My
Imagination' pared back to the basics on a three minute edit on 'Still Life',
which soars here in all its unhinged unedited ten minute glory with saxophone
solos and false endings galore. A clever re-working of 'Under My Thumb' is
perhaps the best Stones set opener of them all, with the guitar weaving playing
the marimbas part and Mick sounding more paranoid than patronising. Though the
'Some Girls Texas '78' show still wins the archive award for consistency and
energy, the 'Some Girls' songs still in the set are played with some panache
here too with no sign of the listlessness of the band's later live recordings
or indeed large chunks of 'Still Life'. The show is remembered chiefly for
three reasons. Two of them are musical: the exclusive performances of 'Going To
A Go Go' (great!) and 'Twenty Flight Rock' (awful!) The third is physical: the
moment a fan leapt on stage aiming to leap on Mick until Keith stood in front
of him, guitar as a battering ram, to protect his colleague - about the last
moment of friendship between the two until the end of the decade.
Understandably the performance of the song that followed was slightly nervy and
is best seen as part of the tie-in DVD, which leaves the incident in uncut.
Musically only a wobbly 'Waiting On A Friend' and a sarcastic 'Let It Bleed',
unexpected encores both, let the side down a bit but otherwise this is a fine
reminder of a Stones period that's worth revisiting more than you might
Stones Records, June 1982)
(Take The 'A' Train)/Under My Thumb/Let's Spend The Night
Together/Shattered/Twenty Flight Rock/Going To A Go-Go//Let Me Go/Time Is On My
Side/Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)/Start Me Up/(I Can't Get No)
Satisfaction/Outro: The Star Spangled Banner
"You tried giving me the velvet
gloves,. you tried to give me the knockout punch, now let me go!"
Stones live album number four is much like album number three, another live album,
this time a single, made up of all the hits that hadn't been used up on the
last record along with some really big mistakes (this record's pointless
'played over the PA' opening is Duke Ellington's 'Take The A Train', suggesting
Charlie was charge of picking the music this time, plus a finale this time with
Hendrix's Star Spangled Banner as everyone shuffled out - probably Keith's
choice - both of these tracks a complete waste of just a twelve track live
album) and the occasional high ('Going To A Go Go' is a Miracles cover that
works rather well in a live setting and was a surprise hit single when released
as a trail for the album - this album probably came as a crushing
disappointment when people didn't realise it was more of the same). The Stones
are on auto-pilot throughout, all too audibly near the end of a tiring tour and
Keith's vocals have gone from slightly weather-worn to battle-scarred. The
extra burst that having Ronnie's enthusiasm had brought to 'Love You Live' has
faded, with the band already firmly set in their ways and Mick only
occasionally approaching his charismatic peak. Even the album cover is boring,
with illustrator Kazuhide Yamazaki given
carte blanche to design whatever they wanted and what they wanted bizarrely,
seems to be the ugly bland decoration from the set design on tour. More
disposable than the fall-apart Stones T-shirts and badges being given out at
gigs, this is perhaps the least interesting album of the Stones' entire run. Mick
can yell 'rock and roll!' all he likes, but so little of this album comes even
close to rocking; most of it can't even roll. The only things going for this
album are the two 'exclusive' songs (though a 90 second 'Twenty Flight Rock'
isn't exactly the stuff of which dreams are made either), the welcome return of
'Time Is On My Side' ironically shows up the ill effects of time on the Stones
since the last time they played it back in the 1960s and two tracks taken from
'Some Girls' which work well live, though other releases in the archive series
find both 'Shattered' and 'Just My Imagination' in far stronger health than
this. The band were rightly ticked off for taking too many of the enjoyable
rough edges of their sound away and yet the person who comes off worse on this
set is the editor: the archive series released the full-length Hampton Coliseum
concert from which this show was taken and against all odds it's pretty great,
highlighted by a stunning ten minute version of 'Just My Imagination' that
keeps running on and on. The fact that this album cut it down to the weakest
three rather says it all. For once the title is more accurate than anyone
supposed: this is the band caught still, filling in time between albums, a
museum object captured for posterity rather than a living breathing rock gig.
Thankfully better is to come in the live albums stakes.
& M, '1982')
On Baby/A New Fashion/Nuclear Reactions/Visions/Jump Up/Come Back Suzanne/Rio
De Janiero/Girls/Seventeen/Si Si (Je Suis En Rock Star)
"Turn the thing around and change
the style of yesterday, mustn't try to do the same and get it all wrong"
from the front cover like a high-concept work closely modelled on The Who's
pin-balling 'Tommy'. It reads from the lyrics like a 10cc comedy record. It had
a hit single whose top twenty chart position came close to matching the Stones'
own 'Start Me Up' and actually outsold 'Waiting On A Friend' and 'Hang Fire'.
It sounds like nothing you've ever heard in your life before (ET phoning home
while playing a Fender Stratocast and dodging asteroids interrupting the phone
signal is my best description). It is the third Bill Wyman album, one which
takes eccentric to new levels. If 'Monkey Grip' was a spoof of the Stones and
'Stone Alone' the music business in general, then 'Bill Wyman' is the bassist's
take on life in general. The record's strength is how engaged it is with the
modern world, with its takes on cold wars, nuclear holocaust and new wave
fashions - topics the Stones never even seemed to notice as a collective. Bill
also seems to have understood how to make music in the changing sounds and
textures of the 1980s rather better than his bandmates, with a more palatable
80s sound than either Mick or Keith's solo albums. He's also really doing all
of this (or nearly all of it) himself, without hiding behind guest stars or
female group choruses (which might be why this one is named after him - it's
his one 'true' solo album) and it's clearly the way to go, suiting him much
better than contrasting him against more traditional singers.
weaknesses are much the same: this album is so tongue-in-cheek that even when
it's being serious (reading out a list of the ingredients of a nuclear bomb,
for instance) it's hard to take seriously, while Bill's vocals are often as
heavy-going as ever.
album is best known for its hit single 'Si Si (Je Suis En Rock Star)', which
believe it or not is still the best selling solo single any of the Stones have
ever had. A witty, catchy parody of how daft rockstar posing is, more than a
few fans have wondered if it's a dig at Mick, though really it's a 'You're So
Vain' style track true of everyone with the arrogance to assume it's about
them. However that's not the best moment on the album by any means: follow-up
single 'A New Fashion' feels like more of the 'real' Bill with its mixture of
retro and contemporary and call to arms about never repeating yourself (we know
now, with the Rhythm Kings et al, that this side is very much the natural Wyman
style, though Bill does a pretty good job at sounding young and trendy here
too). Though there's a bit too much filler to make this album approach 'Stone
Alone', it is another album that's stronger than many fans give it credit for
and it's certainly a better response to a changing music scene than
'Undercover' or 'She's The Boss'. Just beware that this is one of those albums
that sounds like nothing else you will ever hear again (it doesn't even sound
like the first two albums!) rather than a hidden Stonesy classic.
'Ride On Baby' gets the album off to a slow start, sadly, a lumpy Stones-style
rocker that sounds out of place in the new setting that makes it sound like a
blender and a microwave having a threesome with a record player containing a
Chuck Berry record. It's basically one long guitar solo with the title sung
over the top.
'A New Fashion' is a clever song that manages to be absolutely at the cutting
edge of what musicians were offering back in 1982, while simultaneously poking
fun at the idea that this will stay in fashion - that everything goes in cycles
and Bill's lived through most of them. Bill's gift for blending the old with
the new is put to good use in this song which balances both while poking fun at
every style in between too. One of his best solo recordings.
'Nuclear Reactions' is the most daring song on the album, sounding not unlike
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark or Gary Numan. A list of ingredients and an
impassionate robotic speech that's icy and detached works well with the very
human theme about all the suffering and death a nuclear war would involve. The
icicle synth notes and the uncomfortably slow pace ratchet up the tension
nicely too on another clever track.
hard to be a genuinely warm song, a slow and sweet ballad without the usual
humour or sarcasm. Oddly enough Bill was, for once, between girlfriends so
might not have had anyone particular in mind when writing a song that would
have sounded pretty good in Mick's hands.
is a noisy ska song that seems to parody Madness and that ilk of bands:
everything in life involves 'jumping' - Bill's euphemism for sex - and a whole
chorus of hoodlums have fun jumping in. It's similar to Stones song
'Neighbours', but not quite as good.
'Come Back Suzanne' is more full on fun with new wave synths and is unusually
aggressive compared to Bill's usual laidback style. The lyrics parody every new
wave song ever: Suzanne's a gold-digging heartbreaking know it all but Bill
still loves her really. Blondie got far more respect for writing far worse
songs than this, though it's not exactly a classic.
Rio De Janiero is a fun holiday travelogue with shades of reggae and
traditional Hawaiian songs where Rio comes complete with an 'ooh ooh ooh'
before it's name every time Bill sings. This is more in his trademark laid back
style and probably a little too chillaxed if truth be told.
mastermind subject would surely be 'Girls' and he promises to talk all about them here until he gets a
Roger Daltrey style stutter and never really gets going. The aim is surely that
we're meant to feel sorry for a narrator who feels anxious around the other
gender, but given Bill's history it seems clear that this is just a case of
is a lazy 1950s pastiche about Bill's sadness at his former beautiful child
bride turning old. The backing mixture of pure 50s and pure 80s is a fascinating
ideas and the mixture of synths and harmonicas works well, but the lyrics are a
little, well, bonkers and skirt the line of sexism (not that this has ever
stopped the Stones before).
Finally 'Si Si Je Suis En Rock Star'
(Or 'yes yes I am a rock star!') was a hit for a reason: it has a stronger hook
and a better understanding of how to use the new 1980s technology for robotic
effect than almost everything else in the charts, along with a large dollop of
Bill's self-deprecating humour. Unfortunately, though, it's more of a one-joke
song than 'New Fashion' and quickly becomes tiresome, so clever in parodying
current trends that it sounds every bit as unlistenable as most of them. The
song deserved its success, though, and is perfect for Bill's raised-eyebrow
then, 'Bill Wyman' is another of those albums that leaves you asking 'Why,
man?' and cheering the bassist on in equal measure. It isn't quite the clever
career highlight some 'hip' reviewers thought it was, but neither is it an
awful record whose success was unexplainable, which is how Mick and Keith
seemed to think of it. The result is an album that only a Wyman fan could love,
but as the success of the single showed, there's more of 'us' than many people
Story Of The Stones"
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction/It's All
Over Now/Time Is On My Side/Play With Fire/Off The Hook/Little Red Rooster/Let
It Bleed/Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadows?// Paint It
Black/The Last Time/We Love You/You Better Move On/Under My Thumb/C'mon/I Just
Want To Make Love To You/Honky Tonk Women//Jumpin' Jack Flash/Route 66/I Wanna
Be Your Man/Mother's Little Helper/You Can't Always Get What You
Want/Carol/Let's Spend The Night Together//Get Off My Cloud/19th Nervous
Breakdown/Not Fade Away/Walkin' The Dog/Heart Of Stone/Ruby Tuesday/Street
she gets her kicks in Stepney, not in Knightsbridge anymore"
generous thirty track compilation of the Stones' 1960s material, 'The Story Of
The Stones' was one of those cheapo sets marketed on TV by K-Tel. While it
might look tacky and has since been replaced by bigger and better compilations
many times over, at the time it was a valuable way of getting lots of hard to
find classics cheap and offered a far more varied selection than any previous
set outside 'Hot Rocks'. The real downside to this set is the deeply scattered
running order, which swaps from mid-60s classics to early 60s faltering
songwriting to late 60s anthems on the first side of vinyl alone. This may well
tell a story, but it paints most of it in flashback, jumping around and around
like Jack Flash on a pogo-stick. The amount of semi-rare tracks like 'Come On'
'I Want To Be Loved' 'Walkin' The Dog' 'We Love You' and 'Have You Seen Your
Mother, Baby?' make it more palatable than some though and more of a thorough
biography than a cash-in paperback.
The Story Of The Stones
"Live At Leeds"
Recorded July 1982, Released November 2012)
My Thumb/When The Whip Comes Down/Let's Spend The Night
Together/Shattered/Neighbours/Black Limousine/Just My Imagination (Runnin' Away
With Me)/20 Flight Rock/A Going To A-Go-Go/Let Me Go/Time Is On My Side/Beast
Of Burden/You Can't Always Get What You Want/Band Introductions/Little T &
A/Angie/Tumbling Dice/She's So Cold/Hang Fire/Miss You/Honky Tonk Women/Brown
Sugar/Start Me Up/Jumpin' Jack Flash/(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
"Well, I'm leaning the ropes and
I'm learning the trade"
Stones archive release number eight is another from the band 1981-1982 tour
that had already resulted in the highlights set 'Still Life' and the 'Hampton
Coliseum' set. Releasing a third volume from a tour where very little changed
from night to night (there are, for instance, only two songs different to the
'Hampton' set) seems excessive, but actually the 'Leeds' show might will be the
most enjoyable. The band are in an energetic mood and still enjoying the last
rush of energy from the 'Some Girls' years, while there's also an increasing fluidity
and confidence that shows itself best in some gloriously extended versions of
old classics. There's a nine minute 'Just My Imagination' that scores over even
the Hampton set in its cocktail of ringing weaving guitars, hypnotic drum
shuffle and Mick's heart breaking that makes a mockery of the three minute
version chosen for the official LP. There's an eight minute 'Beast Of Burden'
with an extended finale that features Bobby Keyes going hell for leather with a
sax solo that keeps swapping with Mick's refusal to let the song go, pushing
for one more reprise after another. An eleven minute 'You Can't Always Get What
You Want' takes slow and moody to a whole new level. An eight Jack Flash does a
lot of serious jumping. A ten minute encore 'Satisfaction' pounds impressively
hard and fast after a full throttle two hour gig. Best of all, an eight minute
'Miss You' finally lives up to the promise of the record, opening up into a
multi-layered song that keeps on giving and sporting the greatest ever Bobby
Keyes sax solo, rather than just a boring plod through some disco beats. If in
truth the shorter songs seem horribly rushed and given throwaway performances
by a band waiting for the good stuff to get their teeth into (with the
exception of the most golden and anguished 'Angie' yet, possibly the first time
Mick's ever sung the song as if he means it), that's still quite a collection. Though
not quite up to the famous Who set which the title seems to be alluding to or
indeed the Stones' own memorable gig at the University in 1971 (heard on the
deluxe 'Sticky Fingers' set), this is a lot better and a lot hungrier than any
band in their 20th year has a right to sound, what should have been a template
for all the gigs that followed. The Stones tend to be at their best when short
and sweet, but this their most 'Grateful Dead' style jam-style album reveals
that at their best the band can be so much more. Why wasn't this excellent set
the first archive release or - better yet - released in place of the cheekily
basic and compact 'Still Life'?
Stones Records/EMI, July 1984)
Sugar/Undercover Of The Night/Start Me Up/Tumbling Dice/It's Only Rock and Roll
(But I Like It)/She's So Cold//Miss You/Beast Of Burden/Fool To Cry/Waiting On
Bonus Track: Hang Fire
US version substituted 'Hang Fire' Emotional Rescue' and 'Doo Doo Doo Doo
(Heartbreaker)' for 'She's So Cold' and 'Respectable'
"Always in a hurry but never stop
to worry, don't you see the time flashing by?"
was the typical 1980s name given to compilations of music videos and that's
exactly what this was meant to be: the 'soundtrack' to a period release of The
Stones mouthing to their records, sometimes covered in foam while dressed up in
sailor suits (you had to be there). You can't rewind vinyl of course, but you
can re-hash old songs for the umpteempth time, which is what happens here on
another compilation a mere three years and one album after 'Sucking In The
Seventies'. This one 'wins' by virtue of the longer running time and the
inclusion of 1980s highlights 'She's So Cold' 'Waiting On A Friend' and
'Undercover' itself, though that's a relative measure and this compilation has
had no reason to tempt fans since the longer compilations like 'Jump Back' '40
Licks' and 'Grrrrrrr' came out. Released to mark the end of the Stones' days on
EMI/Warner Brothers (depending on the side of the Atlantic you lied on),
Rolling Stones Records will have found a new home on Virgin by the time of
'Dirty Work'. Oddly for such a low-key unpublicised work., effort was put into
tailoring this compilation for both markets: the British EMI set gets 'She's So
Cold' and 'Respectable', minor classic both, while the American Warner Brothers
set got 'Emotional Rescue' and 'Heartbreaker', bigger but rather more generic
and less interesting hits. Both territories got 'their' version released on CD.
At least the album cover is worth a laugh: the Stones dressed up in tuxedos and
pretending to be a jazz band! Shame the amount of images mean they're all so
small though, especially on CD...
Jagger "She's The Boss"
(Columbia, February 1985)
Lonely At The Top/1/2th A Loaf/Running
Out Of Luck/Turning The Girl Loose/Hard Woman//.Just Another Night/Lucky In
Love/Secrets/She's The Boss
see, passion has a funny way of burning down and running low"
wonder if Mick would have pushed so hard to make his first solo album if he'd
have known the aggro it was going to get him - with the fans in general and
Keith in particular. Knowing him chances are the answer was yes; you get the
feeling reading between the lines of the Stones' 1980s interviews that the
Glimmer Twins had grown so far apart they were desperate to break away and were
looking blame the first chance they got on the other. The 'problem' in Keith's
eyes was two-fold: that Mick had taken up precious time and songs during
sessions for the band's new album 'Dirty Work' away and that there was nothing
un-Stones like on the record that couldn't have been done better by the Stones
rather than a bunch of session men. On those terms Keith is right: 'She's The
Boss' doesn't sound like the sort of album that couldn't have waited a few
months or the sort of album that expanded Mick's artistic consciousness so
greatly that it ultimately helped to a greater understanding of his role in the
Stones (the usual guff given when people want to make Stones albums nowadays).
Not that successful by Stones standards (#6 in the UK album chart, with single
'Just Another Night' peaking only at #32), it ultimately hurt Mick more than it
helped him - not many fans stuck around for the second or third albums even
though those really do represent a new Jagger (largely without the swagger) and
everything you hope a solo album will provide. So why did he make this wretched
album at all?
be honest Mick probably just felt like working with a group of people who
treated him with respect for once and weren't using every lyric he wrote or
every interview he gave as a chance to laugh at him. Up until the end of the
Mick Taylor years the balance of power in the Stones had been round about
equal, shifting over slightly to Jagger's side when Keith goes through his
darkest and heaviest drug period. By 1985, though, Richards is back to full
strength and demanding to know what the hell's happened to his band after disco
pop and novelty singles. Frustrated by a slight lack of direction, the rest of
the band and Keith's new 'glimmer twin' Ronnie sided with Keith (as much as the
Stones ever sided with anyone). But working on Keith's terms wasn't the sort of
reward Mick deserved for keeping the band going during the dark stretches -
it's the equivalent of Lennon waking up
midway through the 'White Album' sessions and declaring 'Sgt Peppers' and
'Magical Mystery Tour' 'rubbish'; many fans actually liked the shift and those
that didn't disliked the albums more for the lack of Keith/Lennon than the
amount of Mick/McCartney. Wanting to prove Keith wrong, that 'his' Stones was
best and that, anyway, his new celebrity status had given him a stardom while
the guitarist was only known to fans of the band and go back to making music
fun again seem a fair reason for making this album to me. To be honest there's
more reason for 'She's The Boss' to exist than Keith's even more Stones-like
solo records, released despite his protests that solo albums hurt the brand.
a shame, though, that Mick was so caught up in the moment and intensity of that
rivalry that he didn't settle back to think more about what he really wanted
from this album. As time goes on he'll find out the way he should have made
this one: a few Stonesy rockers to keep the fans happy, but with other tracks
branching out into different territory he could never have explored with the
Stones. 'She's The Boss' seems instead to have been stuck in 'Miss You' mode,
with the same repetitive disco funk beat no match for Charlie Watts and the
rock and roll missing the Stones guitars. Mick shines when the band behind him
absolutely nail a song's emotion and allows him to go for it - when left to
fill in half the story himself Mick always struggles (along with Keith's drug problem
and the loss of Mick Taylor, the single biggest reason why the 1970s Stones
never quite match the 60s Stones, song for song anyway). So what does he do
here? He hires a drum machine and some very 80s synths that makes even
'Undercover' sound like a warm-hearted analogue creation and then wonders why
his vocals don't convey the same sense of drama and character as before. 'She's
The Boss' really had to stand out in an era when so many other fading 60s
musicians and singers were doing the same, but there's very little here you can
even get a hold of, with the whole album sinking into one similarly paced,
similarly textured mess. Only the slightly bluesy feel on 'Running Out Of
Luck', where Mick drops his strutting and pouting and plays the role of a loser
shows the vocalist at his best, a lesson thank goodness he learnt nicely before
the release of his next album 'Primitive Cool', which has more in common with
this track than the rest of the album. There's also a case to be made that it's
at the level of 'Dirty Work', though admittedly that's not a very high level
(both albums would have been massively improved by greater contributions from
Keith or Mick respectively). By and large, though, this is the weakest of
Mick's four solo sets, too contemporary to stand out at the time and too
mid-80s to stand up to repeated hearings for modern tastes. And why the
off-putting title (in reality another of those borderline misogynistic Jagger
rants) or the off-putting cover of Mick looking glum in his gym clothes, looking
like he's just been sent back to the locker-room for forgetting his PE kit?
'Lonely At The Top' sets the tone: a noisy drum-heavy shouted song that sounds like
a Stones track with the guitars taken out and leaving a big hole in the middle.
Lyrically, though, it's one of the more interesting songs here with a lyric
apparently written for an ambitious girl who wants it all which could be a
'Dirty Work' style coded reference to Keith. The song moves on, though, with
Mick's character a wannabe actress nervous for an audition in an intimidating
theatre and a clever middle eight that widens the song out to any role ('You
could be a doctor, you could be a nurse - there's time to rehearse!') When the
guitar does arrive too they're pretty fabulous with guest Jeff Beck providing a
bonkers solo so different to anything any of the four Stones guitarists would
ever have done.
'1/2 A Loaf'
is, sadly, not a song about making bread but about Mick mocking a girlfriend
for not using her brain and putting two and two together that he's having an
affair. Typically, Mick reckons it's her fault - that if she cared about his
staying he'd stay more and blames her for 'living half a dream' while boasting
that he's 'indiscrete'. The best melody of the 'poppier' songs is alas still
marred by some awful drumming and lyrics that don't quite work, a bit too
unsympathetic even for Mick, the master of songs like these.
'Running Out Of Luck' is the clear highlight simply for being the one that steps the
furthest out of Mick's comfort zone. A Dire Straits-style guitar part is nicely
different to the Stones' usual style, while the chorus features a nice pull of
tension between minor and major keys, hinting at the luckier world everyone
else seems to be living in. Mick's character is more likeable than most,
running out of luck, money and hope though it's hinted that it's the loneliness
after a broken relationship that haunts him the most. The samples on Mick's
voice are also used well and sparingly.
'Turn The Girl Loose' though is just a Stones groove the band would have done better.
The song just doesn't really go anyway past the opening riff except into a
faceless chorus and back out again and the lyrics are confusing - does Mick
want a girl's freedom for good reasons or for bad, so he can claim her for his
is the typical Stones ballad and aches with the warmth of Mick's best emotional
songs. Alas it's also very clichéd and the one Jagger song you could imagine
being sung by Elton John, Rod Stewart et al with the same clonky piano chords
and lighters-aloft simplicity. A shame because the song reads in retrospect
like a major confessional from Mick, admitting that he's both attracted and
repelled by wife Bianca and that if both are cheating then there's a problem
(bit rich asking 'where's the mercy?' though). There's something about the
delivery, though, which suggests Mick doesn't believe a word he's singing.
'Just Another Night' was the most 1980s pop song on the album and of course became
the album's first single. Given that there's barely a song here, just a so-so
riff and Mick putting on his desperate romantic voice, it seems odd both that
this song is so well regarded by most Jagger fans and that it caused such
controversy, with Patrick Alley claiming that Mick had ripped off his song of
the same name recorded for a 1982 record which also featured this album's guest
Sly Dunbar. Mick was found innocent in court and though there are some
similarities this is such a generic song to be honest any of a thousand
songwriters could have sued on similar lines. Only another Jeff Beck solo and
some nice production effects lifts the song into the listenable bracket.
'Lucky In Love' might have been nice as a two minute funk groove to break up the
rock and roll. Stretched out to six minutes it's ugly and tedious, Mick moaning
about being heartbroken over the same repetitive boom-chikka riff. Oddly enough
it's the synths that half-rescue this song, adding a pretty melodic part in
stark contrast to the rhythm-heavy opening and the chorus is catchy in an
'inane grin' kind of a way.
'Secrets' is a
little better, if only for possessing an actual tune rather than a riff. Mick
is good at these slightly faster urgent songs and turns in by far his best
vocal on the album, spouting off words at a million miles an hour in the middle
of two weaving guitars like the 'old' days. It's just the lyrics that let this
one down: Mick thinks his wife is cheating on him . What, again? The end is weird too, Mick re-enacting the
spanking punishment he wants to give his 'naughty' girl 'doing it for the
money' to a crash of cymbals. Even 'Black and Blue' and 'Undercover' weren't
the title track 'She's The
Boss' is not your ideal album closer. Mick starts off singing a girl's
praises - she's stronger than he is, knows more about the world and he looks up
to her. Somewhere around the end of the first verse, though, the track takes on
a mocking tone, with Mick singing tongue in cheek and playing the victim as his
girl gets more and more masculine and aggressive. Only historians get to say
what happened in history and what it meant, not the people who were there; this
song too sounds like Mick putting over the usual one-sided arguments.
then, 'She's The Boss' is a disappointment. Far too conventional, yet stuck in
an ugly mid-80s digital box that even the Stones had never tried to fit in, it
manages the double sin of being boringly obvious and of breaking all the links
with the Stones that matter. People who'd wondered since 'Memo From Turner'
back in 1970 what a solo Jagger album might sound like found an entirely
different kind of singer: one who was by now very much a part of the
establishment rather than on the outside of it looking on. As anonymous and
faceless as any other mid-80s pop album, there's nothing here even close to his
best work and fans brought up on Charlie Watts' work will feel quite ill from
the drumming on this album. To his credit, though, Mick will learn his lesson
and learn it fast, with his next two albums the equal of anything made in the
1980s and 1990s with his own band. It's a double tragedy, then, that burnt by
this album and Keith's stinging criticisms ringing on their eyes so few fans
saw fit to buy them.
and the Poor Boys"
(Ripple Records, '1985')
Baby Please Don't Go/Can't You Hear
Me?/These Arms Of Mine/Revenue Man (White Lightning)/You Never Can
Tell/Slippin' and Slidin'//Saturday Night/Let's Talk It Over/All Night
Long/Chicken Shack Boogie/Sugar Bee/Poor Boy Boogie
arms of mine, if you hold them how grateful I would be"
long been a feeling that rock stars aren't the kindest of people and that the
Stones with their image of destruction and anarchy aren't very nice at all, but
neither seems to be true when you scratch below the surface. 'Willie and the
Poor Boys' is a prototype 'Rhythm Kings' formed by Bill Wyman originally as a
one-off super-group of friends jamming on songs in concert to raise money for
The Small Faces' Ronnie Lane, at the time desperately ill with multiple sclerosis
and so badly ripped off by two separate record companies that he was in
desperate need of money (it's worth pointing out his previous benefactor in the
late 1970s was The Who's Pete Townshend, despite their band's image too). The
concert was so popular and such fun - certainly by contrast to the 'World War
III' happening in Stonesland - that Bill decided to release an album, recorded
quickly and spontaneously in the spirit of the live shows and the first of a
handful of albums released on his own tiny record label. Other band members
joining in with the distinctly 50s vibe included Charlie Watts, Ronnie's old
Faces bandmate Kenney Jones, Jimmy Page, Chris Rea and Andy Fairweather-Low.
Even though the material and occasionally the performances are pure pub-rock,
it's certainly one of the better pub bands around with everyone keen to take
turns to shine though this record is still very much Bill's baby with his face
prominently on the cover. There are covers of everyone from Otis Redding (a
great take on 'These Arms Of Mine' by Mickey Gee which could only have been
better if Jagger had sung it) toa blistering take on Big Bill Broonzy's 'Baby
Please Don't Go', performed against a big backdrop of horns and multiple guitar
parts. The Stones world equivalent of The Traveling Wilburys, it's less
essential or groundbreaking than the main canon and has only the vaguest of
passing similarities with it, but twice as fun as most of it. Though a DVD was
later released of the shows as well, it's a shame that the Poor Boys ended
after this as they tended to be both lighter on their feet and slightly tighter
than the Rhythm Kings to follow. Long overdue for a CD re-release, it's a
remarkable moment of friendship and unity between mates in the rock world and
while it might not have raised as much money as it deserved to it raised a lot
of laughs and a lot of smiles and did a lot of good for the Stones' image.
Watts Orchestra "Live At Fulham Town Hall"
(**, Recorded March 1986, Released
Stompin' At The Savoy/Lester Leaps
In/Moon Glow/Robbin's Nest/Scrapple From The Apple/Flying Home
Fulham: gateway to New Orleans"
the day before the release of 'Dirty Work' - the Stones' most argumentative and
fractious album - this first released performance by the Charlie Watts
Orchestra must have seemed like a breath of fresh air. Charlie's first love was
always jazz, far more than rock and roll, and he'd always played it where he
could on the side, starting in the late 1970s when he and 'Stu' formed their
own spin off jazz band Rocket '88 (a group that, sadly, never made any
recordings and ended when the pianist died). Charlie had also guested with many
other similar bands formed by his friends Jack Bruce, Evan Parker or Courtney Pine
(all of whom re-pay the compliment by guesting on this album). So integral had
Charlie become to the world of jazz that it's a surprise he'd never formed his
own band before the mid-1980s or that he'd never made a record. You get the
feeling Charlie wasn't too fussed about this one being a record either as long
as the concert was good, given that it stayed in the vaults for three years
until the fuss over the latest Stones extravaganza had died away. It's release
with a big blow-up cover of Charlie looking worried looks like a spoof of other
jazz covers with smiling band leaders in fact, as if Charlie has realised how
daft the thought of him leading a band really is, while the fact that the band
are playing in down-to-home 'Fulham' rather than 'Las Vegas' or 'Los Angeles' or
some other exotic location seems like part of the joke too.
rock and jazz albums can be very similar - the extended jam sessions that were
'Sticky Fingers' and 'Exile On Main Street', both also heavy on the Bobby Keyes
saxophone, would make fine jazz cover albums one day. However 'Dirty Work' and
'Fulham' sound light years apart. There's a casualness about this album that's
laidback even by modern jazz terms, with musicians who are giving and take it
in turns to share the spotlight. By contrast 'Dirty Work' is a rather
aggressive, mean-spirited album with Mick and Keith trying to one-up each other
while the songs are repetitive and tight. You'd expect a 'feel' drummer like
Charlie to thrive in the former and wilt in the latter, but what's odd about this
set is how ordinary Watts performs after playing his heart on 'Dirty Work',
which for him and probably him only is a great Stones album. Without the
urgency or pressure, Watts sounds a little lifeless here, sitting back to watch
the show rather than pushing the band on to greater heights all the time. He's
not exactly the star of the show and not even the only drummer: there are
three, with John Stevens and Bill Eyeden also playing at once. The set probably
deserves to bigger credit to arranger/conductor Alan Cohen to be honest, but
then Charlie is not the sort of person to ever push to put his name forward -
chance are this is more his way of trying to get the rock community interested
in jazz. If so, though, the plan hasn't really worked: there are far worse jazz
albums out there, but also lots of better ones. This one feels slightly
scrappy, the band too clearly feeling each other out (the logistics of getting
all 33 members of this band together to rehearse must have been immense after
all!) and only a few tracks really take off and gain a momentum of their own
the way good jazz does: only the pretty xylophone-led strains of 'Moonglow',
the set's biggest slowie with a Jack Bruce bass solo, really shines and Charlie
doesn't even play on that one. Long out of print and never released on CD at
the time of writing, it's like one of those Stones nights when the band haven't
quite warmed up yet but are still tight and disciplined enough to get some good
music out of a tough night.
Jagger "Primitive Cool"
Throwaway/Let's Work/Radio Control/Say
You Will/Primitive Cool//Kow Two/Shoot Your Mouth/Peace For The Wicked/Party
getting sick of competition - you better take me off this mission!"
Undeterred by the poor reception handed out to
'She's The Boss' and the ructions it's release had caused within the band,
Jagger came up with a follow-up just two years later - speedy by 1980s Stones
standards. This time around the record was more focussed, something Mick spent
a lot of effort on rather than being distracted by Stones projects, perhaps
fearing that with so much bad blood between him and Keith he might well be
releasing solo albums full time from here on. Not that 'Primitive Cool' is
entirely a solo project; perhaps finding an entire solo album daunting and
realising that he'd only ever worked with a collaborator, Dave Stewart of the
Eurythmics. It was just the lift that Mick needed - proof that he could work
with another writer and come up with something worthwhile, although in the end
the collaboration only amounted to three songs ('Lets' Work' 'Say You Will' and
'Kow Tow'). Unlike 'She's The Boss' (which was basically just a Rolling Stones
album with less emphasis on the guitars) the cleverly titled 'Primitive Cool' offered
up a sound that the Stones hadn't used for a while: contemporary pop. While
Keith would have been happy sticking to the same kind of songs forever, Mick
had always been more interested in what people were up to outside the group and
indulges all his whims here. The result is a noisy and rather dated album, one
heavy on the drums (one wonders what Charlie Watts thought of being 'replaced'
by a drum machine) and keyboards and with that certain 'empty' sound only
records recorded between 1985 and 1987 possess (you know the ones I mean: the
one's with lots of shouting and percussion but not much actually going on under
all the surface noise). However while 'Cool' often falls into the trap of
trying too hard, it shows more life and energy than any of the past two Stones
records, with Mick clearly relishing the chance to show off that he's still got
'it', even if most Stones fans had long ago got bored of that look-at-me aspect
of the band's sound. The result cuts both ways: fans who side with Keith about
sticking to the band's original unique sound will hate this record; those who
side with Mick about trying to do something different will enjoy quite a bit of
It has to be said, too, that Mick's lyrics are
a cut above the average he'd been giving Stones fans since at least 'Some
Girls' (bearing in mind that most of 'Tattoo You' dates from earlier). While
the Stones got variations on blood list, sex lust and occasionally politics,
Mick actually sounds as if he's singing from the heart at times here. Album
highlights pop-rocker 'Say You Will', the sad ballad title track, the
mysterious prog rock 'War Baby' and the Irish sea shanty (!) 'Party Doll' are
all better than anything that graced 'Undercover' and 'Dirty Work' (aside
perhaps from 'Undercover Of The Night' and 'One Hit To The Body' respectably).
What's more all four songs are poignant - a word that hasn't been used about a
Stones song in something near a decade - with Mick actually singing properly
instead of simply barking out the lyrics as he does in his 'day job', actually
emotional and full of sadness whether for himself or for the world. That's not
to say 'Primitive Cool' is a perfect album. It isn't even the best Jagger solo
album (that's possibly the next one, 'Wandering Spirit') and the other six
tracks sound suspiciously like filler Keith would have turned down (perhaps he
did?) The backing is rather faceless too: even in 1987 Jagger was a big enough
name to have demanded the best, so why he sticks to such a faceless boring
production style across every track is a mystery. The album never really makes
good on its promise either: a bit more 'primitive' and a lot less 'cool' and
trendy would have been a lot more preferable. Overall, though, this is a fine
record made with a lot of effort and care which proved to the few still
listening that Mick still had things to say which the Stones might not
necessarily have done better. Unlike 'She's The Boss' this is an album worth
breaking a band up for. Interestingly, too, it shares almost nothing in common
with either next album (the far more eclectic 'Wandering Spirit') or Mick's
next release, the Stones' 'comeback' album 'Steel Wheels', showing off a side
of Mick he's never really showed us since.
There's a kind of half-theme that runs through
the record about being left behind and abandoned. Opener 'Throwaway' pleads
with a girl (Bianca?) to give the narrator another chance - that they've been
too far and done too much to 'bust it up'. 'Let's Work' tries to urge everyone
who feels hard done by to have another go - that all their hard work will pay
off, the narrator's included. 'Radio Control' is a man on automatic pilot
drifting through life not enjoying any of it. 'Say You Will' is the Stones'
catalogue's equivalent of The Beatles' 'Don't Let Me Down', asking for a girl
to say 'yes' so that the narrator isn't single any more (compare with the
'nasty' lyrics of 'Aftermath' and 'Between The Buttons' that treated women as
objects and this is a major shift in writing). 'Kow Tow' is an angrier song
about not being abandoned, the narrator vowing to become less
passive-aggressive and more simply aggressive. 'Shoot Your Mouth' is about
two-faced liars putting the narrator down one minute and pretending to be
'nice' the next. 'Party Doll' is about a girl left behind at a party, her fun
suddenly turned to 'bitterness'. Finally, 'War Baby' is about an abandoned
generation of children scarred for life by what the grown-ups around them do -
clearly cut from the same cloth as 'Undercover'. Given the context and the fact
that Keith had just spent half an album making Mick sing spiteful songs written
about himself it seems overwhelmingly likely that in all but the last of
these Jagger has the loss of the band
and most particular the growing divide between himself and his Glimmer Twin in
mind here. Like most big break-ups in your life, Mick sounds ill prepared going
through the stages of anger ('You dirty rat - you jumped the sinking ship'
yells 'Shoot Your Mouth'), denial ('I can see through you like glass' 'Kow Two'
warns) and sadness ('But now you say the party's over, you used to love to
honky-tonk' sighs 'Party Doll', perhaps recalling 'Honky Tonk Women. 'But now
those dancing days are over. You used to be my number one - but now those salad
days are over'). Keith will reply in kind (and sometimes not so kind) on his
first solo album 'Talk Is Cheap' the next year; however you have to say that
Mick wins the argument, showing some affection and sadness about losing one of
his oldest friends in between the shouting (Keith's album is more about the
hurt than what he's lost). Read between the lines and 'Primitive Cool' turns
into quite a different record, away from the heavy handed drumming and attempts
to sound contemporary - a confessional that deserved a better fate than to peak
at just ** in the charts. The public seemed to have made their 'choice' in the
war between the two sides - but not for the first or last time seem to have
chosen the wrong one.
'Throwaway' is as the title hints
something of a 'throwaway', which is a shame because that's exactly what it
shouldn't be. The narrator has worked too hard to let his latest romance fold,
it's just a shame that a similar effort wasn't put into one of the weakest
songs on the album, a reminder of why the Stones have up making out and out pop
records circa 1965.
'Let's Work' is the worst song,
however, a terribly patronising song that assumes like so many rich people do
that poor people have a choice about their circumstances and could be rich too
if only they'd worked a bit harder. The real world isn't like that (it's who
you know, not what you know) and you have to have been given an opportunity
first to be able to take it. This song is Mick (and co-writer Dave Stewart) at
their worst, with a melody that sounds as if it's been lifted from an
irritating ringtone. 'Let's Work' ironically enough needs more work!
Control' is rather disappointing
too: shouty rock with Mick barking rather than singing once again. However it's
intriguing to hear him playing the part of a man not in control of his life
(for once) and this is arguably a more accurate portrayal of a life built on
hardship than the last song, a lethargic lament that sounds as if its playing
at half speed.
Will' is thankfully much
better, a heartfelt ballad that manages to circumnavigate the cliches trap - no
mean feat given that this is a song on that familiar subject of asking for a
woman's hand in marriage. A sudden key change into the middle eight admits that
it's a big ask: the narrator is confused, a country boy dreaming of the city
who never knows whether to rest or stand still. There are lots of neat personal
touches here to lift the song above the average, from the 'laughter I need to
lean on to tie our lives together' to his urging her to 'cast your fears
aside'. Like 'Laugh, I Nearly Died' from 'A Bigger Bang' to come, you get the
sense that this is the 'real' Jagger behind all that posing - a sensitive soul
who worries he's not good enough.
Title track 'Primitive Cool' is interesting too, imagining what
seems to be the stone age but might well be Mick's own childhood in war-torn
1940s Britain. 'Did you walk tall in the 50s, daddy, was it all black and
white?' is a touching chorus, Mick's children asking him if he wore dungarees
and looked like James Dean. Mick slurs 'oh yeah' to every question he's posed,
revealing that the 50s and 60s was both about 'crazy fashions' and 'living life
with a passion', Mick sounding rightfully proud that he 'broke all the laws
that were about to crumble' and knew Dr Martin Luther King. A nice bit of
nostalgia for man and fans, this would have been a much loved song had the
Stones released it. Perhaps making a point, this song comes with the most 80s
backing of all the album - shrieking female singers, clucking synthesisers and
heavy-handed drumming, no wonder Mick looks back on the 1950s and 60s with such
is clearly an answer to 'Had It With You', Keith's song about Mick even if Mick
was singing it. Mick is in bitter mood, talking about 'friends who are snakes
in the grass' and who have had their own way for too long. With a guitar riff
taken straight from Pete Townshend' repertoire Mick screams 'I won't bow down,
I won't kow tow, won't be lied to, I won't turn tail, won't be blinded by you!'
It's the most emotional we've heard him for a while, telling us that he's
leaving soon' and preparing for 'high noon' but only through a 'heavy heart'
because we have such a 'long past'. *Sniff* A song like this makes it all the
more remarkable that a new and much happier Stones album will be out in just
is a slightly less focussed rocker on the same subject. Someone - almost
certainly Keith - has 'given me up without a sound sound sound', kicking
himself for having never read the 'signs signs signs' and upset that he 'didn't
even get a goodbye kiss'. More an excuse for Mick to let off some steam than a
properly thought out song, 'Mouth' still rocks nice and hard, the heavy
drumming across this record actually working in this song's favour for once.
The swampier 'Peace For The Wicked' continues the ranting theme
of the album's second side but is aimed more at greedy people in power. Mick
often tries to find out what's going on and sometimes even gets the 'keys' to
the truth - but whenever he tries the locks finds the 'door' has moved and he
has to start again. A very CSNY style song, Mick roars out the chorus line
'itsssss ssssssoooooo sssaaaaad!' with such power that he overcomes any
deficiencies in the song. This way of singing word 'ssssaaaaadddd' will come in
handy when the band reunite in 1989 for the song 'ssssaaaaadddd ssssaaaddd
'Party Doll' is the album highlight,
an unexpected song with Irish folk overtones that suits Mick's voice rather
well. The aggression of the past three songs is over, replaced by wistful
sadness as Mick laments losing another good friend. 'You used to be my party
doll - but now you say the party's over' he concludes. Addressing his spurning
lover as 'my sweet', Mick admits that the passion between him has faded but
that he still had a great time, drinking in one memorable line to 'the old
dancing days, your crazy ways and the whisky haze'. Given that he must surely
be addressing Keith here, it's a moving moment that suggests that underneath
all the bluster and rows the Glimmer Twins still felt a great deal of affection
for each other. It's just a shame that Keith wasn't quite so forgiving from his
side of things.
The album ends on another strong track, 'War Baby'. Mick's take on
the fact that he and his generation make up a special place in human history
(born during the years of World War Two), Mick also turns this strong song into
a moving anti-war piece about all the conflicts still raging when this album
was released in 1987. Fears that all children born in the 1940s would grow up
idolising war is wrong - Mick is clearly still a hippie believing in peace over
all things, urging us all to 'walk together and keep our children safe'. An
interesting backing of tin whistles and synthesisers make for the most
progressive sounding song on the album too, a world away from the tired funk of
A much better record than anyone gave it credit
for at the time, 'Primitive Cool' gets things badly wrong at the start but ends
well. had it been the backbone of a new Stones record it might well have turned
into the most interesting and forward-thinking record the band released since
'Goat's Head Soup' (assuming that Keith would have come up with a couple of
gems to knock this record into shape too). But Keith isn't there and that's the
whole point of the record really - Mick, figuring there's no way back for them
both, very much tries to find a new sound across this record and reveal his
hurt and confusion over how the greatest adventure of his life seemed to simply
fall apart. We might never have had this album without 'world war three' (no
wonder Mick felt like a ('war baby'!) - with this record easily the greatest
thing to come out of the pair's falling out. Proof of both how Mick can mess up
and be brilliant all at the same time, 'Primitive Cool' is a clever
multi-layered album that proves how much further he could have taken the band
all those years if only the others had 'let' him.
Richards "Talk Is Cheap"
(Virgin, October 1988)
Big Enough/Take It So Hard/Struggle/I
Could Have Stood You Up/Make No Mistake/You Don't Move Me//How I Wish/Rockawhile/Whip
It Up/Locked Away/It Means A Lot
made the wrong motion, drank the wrong potion, you lost the feeling - not so
can understand Keith's annoyance at Mick's solo album getting in the way of
Stones album 'Dirty Work', but not his method of getting revenge. After ranting
and raving in the press and in private about how solo albums were something
only poor bands did who'd run out of things to say, Keith effectively put the
Stones on hold to make his own record. Despite chuntering that Mick's album was
all the worse because it was something the Stones could have done better,
Keith's album is even more rigidly Stone-like, as if to 'prove' that Richards
was the one behind the Stones signature sound anyway, even though it took a new
co-writer In Steve Jordan to replace Mick totally. Oddly the music press, eager
to take 'sides' in the ongoing Stones war, went doo-lally over this set which
is the moment when the Stones began to be seen as 'Keith's band rather than
'Mick's. But in truth this album is vastly inferior to Jagger's second album
'Primitive Cool' and only a slight improvement on 'She's The Boss'. Fans had
wondered what a Keith Richards solo album might sound like almost as often as
they had a Mick Jagger one, but chances are they'd all come up with an album
that sounded better than this derivative mess.
said, where this album loses out in the songwriting stakes, it gains in terms
of Keith pushing his voice forward. The late 1980s are the best Keith ever
sounded, caught halfway between the nasal bloom of youth and the lived-in growl
of later life. Freed of the need to play back up, Keith has never had so much
room to perform and his voice comes on leaps and bounds across the making of
this album as he learns more and more how to sing in a natural way without
trying to sound like Jagger. 'Talk Is Cheap' is a lot prettier than it has any
right to be, with a fuller band sound than 'Dirty Work' and appearances by
Stones regulars Bobby Keyes and - surprisingly - Mick Taylor offering just enough of a Stonesy
sound (though Steve Jordan was no substitute for Charlie Watts). Keith's new
band, The X-Pensive Winos, are also pretty good in a no-frills sort of a way.
Had 'Steel Wheels' sounded more like this record, it might have been an even greater
comeback the next year. However while this record might sound better than
Mick's, in terms of songs it's far worse. Everything comes with the same old
Chuck Berry riffs - even the songs that should never have been anywhere near a
Chuck Berry riff - and the lyrics are basic pop fair, without Mick's flair or
storytelling. The most interesting songs are, like the best ones on 'Dirty
Work', the ones that address Keith's shock at how distant he now feels from his
childhood friend. However the 'you lost it buddy and you're repeating yourself'
lyrics of 'You Don't Move Me' would be more convincing if they weren't
accompanied by the same old tired strains of cliched Stones riffs. Only the
conciliatory 'How I Wish' stands out, easily the highlight of this batch of
songs. The end result is a record that, like 'She's The Boss' doesn't really
add anything to the Stones canon but doesn't necessarily take away from it,
with the 'World War Three' fought over their records a big fat waste of time on
is just 'Hot Stuff' with horns and a massive group of female backing singers,
as club-heavy and noisily contemporary as the songs on 'She's The Boss' Keith
had been mercilessly ripping into. Only not even that good, because Richards
doesn't have the Jagger swagger. Keith cackles that his old partner has been
'hung out to dry' and that he's got 'a wall in your face and a gun in your
back', but to be honest Keith sounds more lost than Mick ever did.
'Take It So Hard' sounds like the beginning of 'Mixed Emotions' just before the
song got good. Unsure why a friend is moaning when he's got so lucky in life,
Keith tells him to stop whinging - spending four whole minutes whinging about
the fact his friend is whinging. But which is the whinger winner really?
is the other bit of 'Mixed Emotions' - the 'you're not the only one' part. The
lyrics are slightly better here, moving on to debate how life is a struggle
between the forces of good and the forces of evil. However sitting through the
sub-par Chuck Berry riffing is a struggle indeed.
'I Could Have Stood You Up' would normally have been the track on the album where Stu would
have been guest star, a honky tonk piano boogie that never quite takes off.
Keith's vocal is a good one though, strong e3nough to stand up to the hordes of
doo-wop singers behind him.
'Make No Mistake' is an early airing for Keith's deeper off-key voice and is quite
effective as an early example of the Keith ballad that will become the Stones'
traditional closer from this point on. However the song's not quite up to
'Slipping Away' or 'Thru and Thru' even though the lyrics about the rift
between the Stones are very telling in places. Keith worries about what might
happen if the pair bump into each other accidentally ('Do we pretend we've
never met?') and that 'a simple conversation now and then' has led to a 'touchy
situation' he considers 'just a dream'.
'You Don't Move Me' adds a touch of Ska to the Chuck Berry riffs and a more
accusatory slant to Keith and Steve Jordan's words. Telling Jagger off for
distancing himself from his band and then wondering 'why he's got no friends',
Keith sticks the boot in for another painful three minutes that might have been
better written as a letter than a song.
'How I Wish'
is the one joyous moment on the album and Keith ups his game with a
delightfully catchy song about wishing a distanced one was back in his life.
Keith clearly means Mick but he could just as well be singing about Brian,
wishing 'I could touch you with my hand - though I know damn well I can't'.
is more interesting than most songs on here too, with an unusual variation on
his usual riff that sounds not unlike the title track of Mick's 'Primitive
Cool' with a similar primitive percussive
sound. Musically it's the most inventive thing here, though lyrically
it's the worst: 'Baby, stay, yeah, honey I don't need to lie, you can believe
it or leave it...'
'Whip It Up'
is easily the best of the 'normal' variants on that riff, with Jordan's
drumming right on the money for once. In a parallel universe this is the
Stones' biggest hit since 'Start Me Up' with a similar way of doing something
new and well with the same old ingredients.
is another bright and breezy Keith ballad that has a lovely tune but some ugly
fiddle playing and rather ordinary words. An unexpected throwback to the days
of Keith as an outlaw figure, he finds himself wondering if it's him or a loved
one who deserves to be 'locked away' because they can't stay in the same room
second half of the album has been much better than the first, but sadly finale 'It Means A Lot' is a return
to empty riffing and doesn't even feature a vocal for the first thirty or so
seconds. It's a noisy stomp of a song about picking up on a lover's secret
signals and whose best lyric is 'a hug what does it mean, oh yeah, tell me' and
goes downhill from there.
Is Cheap', then, feels like a discussion that we shouldn't have been having.
Freed of each other temporarily, it's strange how much both Jagger and Richards
stuck to their template sound at first without taking advantage of the chance
to re-define who they are or who they could be. Keith, for one, seems intent on
proving that he is the Stones and doesn't need to change his sound, but he's wrong
- without Mick his songs largely lack sparkle, only half a Stones album no
better than 'She's The Boss'. Thankfully Keith's second album 'Main Offender'
will be as much of an improvement as Mick's second album was on his first, but
this debut album remains a curiously lumpy and unlikeable record that falls
into all the same traps Keith once blamed Mick for falling into. Worse even
than 'Dirty Work', it's a surprise that Stones comeback 'Steel Wheels' the next
year was as good, as focussed and inventive as it was.
Richards "Live At The Hollywood Palladium December 15th 1988"
(Virgin, Recorded December 1988,
Released December 1991)
Take It So Hard/How I Wish/I Could Have
Stood You Up/Too Rude/Make No Mistake/Time Is On My Side/Big Enough/Whip It Up/Locked
is a stage I've been thrown off many many times!"
someone who said that he couldn't see the point in a live career and Stones
members should only make records as part of the band, Keith hasn't half
released a lot of extras. This is a live recording from the days when the
X-Pensive Winos was touring the 'Talk Is Cheap' album and it mainly features
versions of the lesser songs from that lesser album performed in an even more
ragged and scruffy way. Talk may have been cheaper, but hearing it this way
makes the album seem even cheaper and it's a long way from the tightness
(bordering on slick) nature of the 1980s Stones gigs. However Keith's on good
and witty form, chatting to the crowd in a much more leisurely way than during
Stones gigs and offering some fascinating titbits from his career. He refers to
the last time he was at the Palladium, when he tried to get up to jam with
Chuck Berry but found to his horror his idol didn't recognise him and got security
to remove him and yelling the band on, sounding like he's having a great time
as the band's lynchpin, doing Mick's role as well as his own. Keith also throws
in a few rarities from the Stones catalogue towards the end of the set and it's
interesting to see what he chooses, with 'Exile' rocker 'Happy' and forgotten
Buttons classic 'Connection' given a modern makeover. Both tracks are easily
the best things here, though both are deeply sloppy and unfocussed, sounding
like hard work in contrast to the casual brilliance of the originals. A not
that welcome extra, released in the desperate hope of building up momentum
ahead of 'Main Offender', Keith would have been better off releasing a live
album of that record instead. The concluding part of this trilogy will be with you next week! In the meantime here is our usual list of Stones related articles:
A Now Complete List Of Rolling Stones
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