I’m really loving this album at the moment. To most people, if you said ‘The Stones edging towards funk’, they’d probably tell you to drown yourself: ‘They’re a rock band – the greatest rock n’ roll band in the world! They shouldn’t be dabbling in any other musical form!’
You needn’t worry. Their attempt at a James Brown-esque funk song – the album’s opener Hot Stuff – is superb and the band sounds fresh, stretching themselves into uncharted areas. They sound like their former selves across most of the album – the second track, Hand Of Fate, is back in familiar Rolling Stones territory -but the album has a much looser feel than a typical Stones album. Only their attempt at a reggae song – a cover of Cherry Oh Baby – sounds slightly forced.
Keith Richards would recall this album as the ‘rehearsing guitarists’ album, and I think it sounds all the better for it. I love Mick Taylor’s playing and his albums with the Stones are the highlight of their career for me, but the additional guitar work on this album – by Harvey Mandel and Wayne Perkins – sounds great. Perkins’ solos don’t sound too dissimilar to Mick Taylor’s, but Mandel’s influence, especially the dissonant solo in Hot Stuff, sounds refreshingly different to your regular Stones guitar playing.
This is the first Stones to feature Ronnie Wood as a member of the band – he’s in the group photo on the cover – even though he only plays on a handful of tracks. I do admit, he looks the part – like Keith’s long-lost twin – but I rate Mick Taylor’s playing over his any day. It’s just a shame that Mick Taylor could never fit into the band as seamlessly as Wood did.
Hit: Fool To Cry
Hidden Gem: Hot Stuff