Monday, 30 July 2018

Keith Richards - Talk Is Cheap (1988)


Released October 1988

Keith Richards' first solo of "Keith songs" from 1988, is not a bad effort. It was released during the period when Richards and Jagger had fallen out. It contains material that would not have disgraced any Stones album from the period.

The opener, "Big Enough" is all funky guitars and saxophone riffs. A sort of un-Stonesy sound that has a real refreshing, lively appeal. "Take It So Hard" is more of a typical "Keith track" that you might find on a Stones album - a trademark riff and Keith's understated, downbeat, quiet voice struggling, as usual, to make itself heard. It is an album of fundamental, hard-working rock, a bit like David Bowie with Tin Machine. Keith liked that "back to basics", working with a band thing, forgetting all about the image and marketing concerns that seemed to fascinate Mick Jagger. This album sort of exemplifies that ideology. You can sense that Keith is enjoying himself here, throughout the album. One feels that if Richards had left The Stones at this point, he would have carried on putting out albums like this for the rest of his career. Indeed, his other two solo albums are similar.

"Struggle" has more classic Richards riffage, and sounds very Stonesy, let's be honest. If you heard it,  unaware, you would say "a mid-late eighties Rolling Stones album track". It still sounds energising and punchy, however.  "I Could Have Stood You Up" takes Richards back to his rock'n'roll youth. It is almost skiffle in its jaunty rhythm. It is an enjoyable oddity. "Make No Mistake" is one of those whispered, croaking vocal slow rock ballads that appear on most Stones albums from the eighties onwards. It is backed by some excellent funky, soulful brass sections, although the song seems too taxing for Keith's voice on occasions. I has hints of "Almost Hear You Sigh" from The Stones' "Steel Wheels" about it.

"You Don't Move Me" has an intoxicating drum intro, matched by Richards' choppy riff. As Keith songs go, this is a very good one. It would have been much better had songs like this ended up on Stones albums, even if Jagger was to sing them, like he did, successfully, on "Almost Hear You Sigh", in fact. Apparently, though, the song was thinly veiled swipe at Jagger so maybe that would not have been a good idea! "How I Wish" starts with another trademark riff that continues throughout the song, which is an energetic rocker. "Rockawhile" is an engaging, slow tempo number with a hypnotic rhythm behind it. It just sort of chugs along without getting too far and features some "Gimme Shelter"-style backing vocals too. It has an appeal all the same.

"Whip It Up" is another riffy number. A bit of hiss at the beginning (as there is on a few of the songs). A big, rumbling bass powers this one along, matching Keith's riffs. "Locked Away" is a low key slow number that is very much like a Stones album Keith song, especially the "I oughta be locked away" chorus. "It Means A Lot" is a gritty, tough, clunky closer to what is a spirited, enthusiastically-delivered album.


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