Wednesday, 30 May 2018
The Rolling Stones - Tattoo You (1981)
Released August 1981
Recorded in sessions between 1972 and 1981
This was a not a "new" album from The Rolling Stones in that it was a collection of rejected songs that had been recorded for possible use on earlier albums, dating as far back as 1972. Having said that, they are all tracks of a high quality. In my view, there is not a duff track on there and all of them would have considerably enhanced the albums they were initially recorded for.
The album's stonking, riff based opener, "Start Me Up" dated from the sessions for 1978's "Some Girls" and apparently started life as a laid-back reggae skanking number. Thankfully it changed over time otherwise we would have had that riff. A now iconic Stones track used either at the opening or closing of live shows. "Hang Fire" dates from the same sessions and is probably the weakest track on the album - an upbeat, almost punky rocker with some trite lyrics about nobody working hard enough in the UK. "Slave" dated" from 1976's "Black And Blue" sessions and it a tour de force - bluesy, rocky and featuring a great Jagger vocal and some excellent saxophone from Sonny Rollins too. A true high point. It would have raised the standard of "Black And Blue" no end.
Keith Richard's saucy "Little T & A" comes from 1979's "Emotional Rescue" sessions. It is ok, catchy enough, but, as with many of Keith's songs, it just sort of rambles gently and croakily along. From the "Some Girls" sessions comes the wonderful blues boogie of "Black Limousine". Another high point.
Another one from 1979 is the frantic vocal attack "Neighbours". The repeated title is a bit off-putting and while it seems lyrically bland, it has a breakneck punky appeal, a good vocal and an excellent Bobby Keys saxophone at the end. Also from "Black And Blue" is the beautiful build-up ballad that is "Worried About You", featuring some impressive piano from Billy Preston. Jagger's vocal is top notch on this too, going all falsetto at one point. Imagine "Black And Blue"with this and "Slave"on it.
"Tops" and "Waiting On A Friend" date from 1972 and are both excellent. Mick Taylor featuring on the rocking and soulful former and some Latin-tinged, saxophone groove from The "Goat's Head Soup" Jamaica sessions makes for an appealing latter. "Heaven" is one of those seductive Jagger "solo" numbers dating from 1979 with some hypnotic percussion and a "phasey" deliberately muffled vocal and "No Use In Crying" from the same sessions and is a slow-paced, bluesy ballad with one of those instantly recognisable Jagger vocals. Has a bit of a feeling of automatic pilot about it, though. "Heaven", though, is a remarkably addictive piece of work, worthy of repeated listens.
On conclusion, although not a "new" album, it certainly plays like one, to be fair, and doesn't seem like a collection of cast offs. It is by far the superior to "Emotional Rescue" and "Undercover". It is a good album.