Friday, 3 August 2018

Keith Richards - Main Offender (1992)


  

Released October 1992

This is a slightly more polished album than "Talk Is Cheap", Richards' raw-eged debut solo album. The same writing and production team was involved, but there is something a bit better in the sound quality on this one.

TRACK LISTING

1. 999
2. Wicked As It Seems
3. Eileen
4. Words Of Wonder
5. Yap Yap
6. Body Talks
7. Hate It When You Leave
8. Runnin' Too Deep
9. Will But You Won't
10. Demon

It is pretty much accepted opinion that Richards' solo albums would have made great Rolling Stones albums and, oddly enough, the material on them is, on the whole, far more vibrant and rocking than the usual one or two tracks he had had been contributing to Stones albums (and would continue to do). The grinding, rocking opener "999", for example, or the particularly impressive "Wicked As It Seems" (which has an absolutely knockout Richards riff) are far superior to anything he put on a Stones album for years before. The Stones tracks tended to be either wheezy, sleepy ballads or rockers which highlighted his vocal limitations. On this album his voice is stronger, more rocky, more bluesy, gruffer and the riffage is more powerful, more potent. As I mentioned in my review of his first solo album, these songs would sound great sung by Jagger. "Wicked As It Seems" would be awesome in Jagger's hands. Apparently it acted as an inspiration for some of Jagger's material on The Stones' 1994 album "Voodoo Lounge". With Keith Richards' solo work, you feel it is Richards enjoying himself with a band of mates, getting really into it, whereas Mick Jagger's solo albums were simply Mick singing some songs.

"Eileen" is a bit closer to his usual Stones material, but it still has a strong riff and drum backing. Oddly, his band here seem to have more Stonesy punch than sometimes The Stones themselves have. It as a great guitar and drum interplay bit at the end. Not too many white rock artists can play reggae successfully - witness Led Zeppelin and Elton John's clumsy attempts in the seventies - however, Richards is the exception to the rule. "Words Of Wonder" is a shuffling, rimshot-enhanced dubby groove with a suitable mournful vocal. "Yap Yap" is a more archetypal, laid-back Richards rocker. "Body Talks" is a little bit Keith Richards-by-numbers. It is pleasant enough, but lyrically barren. It is ok, but not the best on the album, sort of meandering along without getting anywhere.

"Hate It When You Leave" is a lovely, tender, yearning love song, while "Runnin' Too Deep" has one hell of a riff. That can only be Keith Richards. The song has a great groove to it. It seriously rocks. "Will But You Won't" is a bluesy grind, and "Demon" is a typical, quiet Stonesy Richards number to finish off.

In many ways, this album is the equal of "Steel Wheels" or "Voodoo Lounge". I still prefer those two, but this album is certainly not without merit. It would be twenty-three years before Richards recorded another solo album, which was a shame.

B-

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