Saturday, May 5, 2012

211 Tattoo You. Tramp Stamps

Album: Tattoo You
Artist: The Rolling Stones
Year: 1981
Genre: Rock


1. Start Me Up
2. Hang Fire
3. Slave
4. Little T&A
5. Black Limousine
6. Neighbours
7. Worried About You
8. Tops
9. Heaven
10. No Use in Crying
11. Waiting on a Friend

The Rolling Stones set the blueprint for how we think artists should behave today. They released albums with a lot of publicity fanfare and a single to get airplay and then they set off on a huge world tour that took them all over the planet. Then when they'd finished they disappear for a few years and spend their cash in depraved ways before doing it all again. But back in 1981 they decided to mix things up a bit.

It's possible that illicit substances confused the general flow of things but the Stones basically decided to go out on the road in the early eighties without a new album to tour on the strength of. They had venues ready and a stage design worked out and Keith had his drug bag all packed but there was no new product out. The Stones needed to record something in a hurry and with no time to write songs they dug into the archives and pulled out anything that was lying around and could be dusted off.

Other bands have tried this (most recently Van Halen who had 14 years to write songs for their 2012 release but still had to scramble through their desk drawers for material) and failed, but the Stones could write a song and even their offcuts were worth hearing. Recently Exile on Main Street and Some Girls have been re-released with out-takes polished by Mick in the studio which prove they left some great songs on the shelf.

Personally I've never understood the adoration for Tattoo You. It feels like a collection of tracks that didn't make the grade the first time around and most of them probably shouldn't have this time. The high points (Start me Up, Black Limousine and Neighbours) are all infinitely better live and come across as slow and plodding in the studio. Keith's moment (Little T &A) is among his worst ever and the album finishes with Waiting on a Friend, one of my least favourite Stones tracks and a piece of slithering shmaltz that only ever elicits a creepy ewww noise from me whenever I hear it (which thanks to the skip function is almost never).

Personally I'd choose 1989's Steel Wheels ahead of this album every time. It's a great set of songs and when future generations come to assess the Stones career people will realise they ended the 80's stronger than they started.

Highlight: Heaven
Lowlight: Waiting on a friend

Influenced by: Their own back catalogue
Influenced: The Black Crowes

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "The Stones as a rule don't release strong overall albums; even in the early 70's, their best period, you had to dig the gems out of a lot of dross."

-Ahem... Sticky Fingers? Exile? Beggars Banquet? Let it Bleed? 100% gem packed and dross free.

So did Tattoo You get under your skin or did it wash off the next day? Let me know below.

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