If record covers are anything to go by, this should be the worst Rolling Stones record in the world, if not the worst record by any band ever. In a horribly misguided attempt to look relevant in the mid 1980s, the band is photographed on the cover of the album wearing an array of garish pinks and yellows, draped over a disgusting green couch. Charlie Watts – battling heroin and alcohol addiction at the time – is sat on the floor, wearing a similar colour shirt to the floor. The apathy dripping off his face is matched only by his obvious desire to blend into the background. Not surprisingly, this is the last time the Stones would appear on the cover of a studio album until 2005’s A Bigger Bang.
The album finds themselves still attempting to reinvent themselves for a new generation. U2 producer Steve Lillywhite is brought into co-produce alongside Mick and Keith, which at least makes them sound less ‘classic rock’, and they even try their hand at a bit of reggae, a cover of Half Pint’s Too Rude, which sounds very much like something The Clash would do. In the end though, the album seems to replace melody with energy and tempo, and like most of their ‘80s albums they just sound like they’re trying far too hard.
The album is dedicated to long-time pianist and road manager Ian Stewart who had recently died of a heart attack. That’s one of the things in the Stones story that always makes me a little sad – Stewart was one of the founding Stones, but was removed from the official line-up by Andrew Loog Oldham because his square jaw didn’t fit with the band’s image. Great – kicked out of the band because of his looks – and they say bands like One Direction are image-obsessed. People always talk about the 5th Beatle (or the 37th Beatle as Mitch Benn has recently claimed to be), but Ian Stewart probably has more right to claim to be the 6th Stone.
Hit: Harlem Shuffle
Hidden Gem: Key To The Highway