The Rolling Stones, Undercover (1983)
I got the feeling – when the latest round of reissues of albums by The Rolling Stones were, ah, rolled out – that not that many critics had listened to Undercover. It might say something about the album that they had listened and don’t remember it – but I’m dubious. It’s become very easy to say that Undercover and the album that followed (Dirty Work) are simply not very good. I won’t – here – make a case for Dirty Work. I would think it has dated very poorly and wasn’t that great to begin with. But Undercover is, to me, a gem in the band’s catalogue. Okay, it’s no Beggar’s Banquet or Sticky Fingers but I enjoy it more than Emotional Rescue and more than Tattoo You – and that’s what it should be measured against. I rate it more than Some Girls for that matter. But I was listening to Undercover when Undercover Of The Night was a single. When the album was released. Some of you might have been too. But to give it my context – I didn’t (really) know much of The Stones’ other work at that point. I certainly didn’t know any of the albums I’ve mentioned here. And I think that’s fair enough. I was seven years old after all. And I loved this album. Later I rediscovered it, aged 14 or so, newly enamoured with everything the Stones had done. Newly enamoured with playing the drums (or at least trying to). And so I started trying to play along to Undercover Of The Night and Too Much Blood, bashing away on my kit. We (the whole family) thought Too Much Blood was a right hoot, that bit where Mick goes on about “a guy running around with a fuckin’ chainsaw” had us in stitches. Me, mum, dad and my brother. Yes, that probably says far too much about my family but this is one of the albums – from that time and of that time – that I consider to be a family album; an album for my family. We all embraced it. So cool that mum and dad bought this music – hip at the time I guess (at least, given their context). And cooler still that they shared it with us. I’ve now got their copy of the album, the original vinyl. It has worn patches, more than a few hisses and pops and the cover’s spine is barely holding together (much like Keef’s spine when you watch him lurch and kick on stage these days). So the copy of the record has as many stories for me as the actual music on the LP. Sure. But, that said, I think there’s some decent material here. And it stands up – to my ears – when I give it a run through now and then. One of my favourite Stones albums still because – really – it was the gateway.
Sample Track: Too Tough
The Vinyl Countdown is a document of every LP I listen to, brand new discoveries and old-old favourites; extremely pre-loved, previously abandoned or with the shrink-wrap having just been removed it’s all here at The Vinyl Countdown