I’d argue this is the least crap of any of the Mick Jagger solo albums actually – but a lot of you didn’t think so. Including Jagger. I went with this – not only because I genuinely love it and it’s my favourite of his solo records (She’s The Boss has a couple of better moments, but it’s not as good as an album) – but also Sir Michael Philip Jaggeth only chose one song from it for his solo “best of” compilation. Not only that, he picks the absolute fucking worst song from the album to highlight as the best, lead single, Let’s Work. And yes I know that Mick Jagger wasn’t really responsible for choosing the songs on a shitty Record Company attempted cash-grab compilation and that since it was the lead single it is the logical choice no matter how shit – but also it has a video every bit as bad as the one where Sir Mick and Dame David Boweth try dance in and around nearly every single street their 80s-af garb will take them.
Let’s Work is very bad and I wonder if it is the reason a lot of people don’t like this album – ie: They heard that and didn’t bother with the rest. Just as I’m going to suggest that and do no work researching whether that’s true or not. I’ll just tell you now, it probably is true.
Let’s Work has so many lyrical clunkers, but what about it’s big positive note, “Let’s Work – Kill Poverty!” That’s about as “OK BOOMER” as you can fucking get right? Like Mick did all the work himself with no helping hands and because it worked for him it should work for you – because if you’re a povo-cunt it’s because you didn’t bother to work. Fuck off you moss-dodging piece of shit! Roll on.
Anyway, I love this album. I reckon it’s solid-af and though this is faint praise to damn it with it stands up as being better than almost anything The Rolling Stones released in the 1980s. A big call, and obviously not true – because of Tattoo You alone (which is mostly shit from the 70s that they finally got around to recording and releasing, so there’s a loophole) but it still feels good to say it and to try to mean it. I do think that the best cuts from this and ‘Boss’ and Keef’s solo gem, Talk Is Cheap would have stacked up better than the albums the Stones were making in the 1980s though – and remember I have already included Undercover in this very series!
Also – three words can be used to explain why this album is worth hearing: Jeff Fucking Beck.
Jeff Beck was giving it away to everyone across the 1980s. His own albums were horrible but as a guitar-slinger for hire he was majestic and he does some great work here – making his guitar sound like R2D2 sighing and like a full vacuum cleaner the next.
The problem here – because let’s not even get into the 80s production, newsflash idiots: 1980s albums contain 1980s production! – is similar to the problem that’s always plagued Jagger, whether Stone alone or with the band, when he’s trying to be cool he’s an embarrassing git. So Let’s Work – his big pop single – sucks.
So start listening to this album by playing side two first – here he bad-mouths Keef because they were sending petty-notes to each other via fight-songs (again sometimes on their solo albums and sometimes on the ones the band released) and he also records yet another of his killer country ballads. This one (Party Doll) is actually sincere, not all smug hamming like Girl With The Faraway Eyes.
War Baby, the album closer, is super over the top, but it’s also pretty great.
And if we go back to side one after, and maybe scrap Let’s Work altogether, we have some strong moments. Throwaway is far from it – actually a really solid album opener. Radio Control is worth it for Beck’s solo. But also it has that grizzled old rock – then in his 40s! Shock! Horror! – sounding vital. Say You Will is the other big ballad and it’s hammy-af but Beck is there to steady the ship. And the title track is utterly brilliant. A brilliant intergeneration song filled with questions from the war baby.
Perhaps more importantly than making any sort of ‘case’ for this album I should just say that it arrived wright when I was discovering the Stones; the band was on its break and just about to comeback for its 25th Anniversary, which its arguably been celebrating ever since…and will continue to until its 60th no doubt.
I bought whatever Stones albums I could find in rotten old Hastings. On cassette tape. And when they had run out and Throwaway and Let’s Work were on the radio and this album was on the new release shelf it became part of my collection. A part of my collection I’ve kept to – still have the tape. Bought the CD. Bought he LP too. Love this album. Flaws and all. Flaws and all.
Shit That’s Good! Crap Albums I Love is an occasional series here at Off The Tracks
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