Thursday, April 30, 2015

I’ve got a couple of crates full of old vinyl albums that I haven’t listened to in years due to lack of equipment to play them. Over a period of about a year and a half I revisited each album on the internet or bought the CD and ranked the songs. I also recorded some brief thoughts, rated the album, and posted the results on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists comment section. I’m recycling and categorizing/grouping the posts on this website.

Black and Blue
I like all Rolling Stones albums released during the 70s, but this one ranks last among that group, due in large part to its competition. It starts off slow as the first three songs land at the bottom of my list, but steadily improves to an overall decent album. Kind of experimental as it contains elements of reggae, hardcore rhythm and blues, and a touch of disco –the current trend at the time. Their first album since the departure of the best guitarist they ever had in the lineup.
Scale of 1 to 10:  B -

1- Memory Motel
2- Melody
3- Hey Negrita
4- Fool to Cry
5- Crazy Mama
6- Hot Stuff
7- Hand of Fate
8- Cherry Oh Baby

Emotional Rescue
Wait a minute, hold everything. This doesn’t suck. It was about the time “Some Girls” came out that I really got into the Rolling Stones. In about a six to nine month span I bought all of their albums and pretty much devoured their catalogue. So it was with great anticipation that I awaited the arrival of this, their next album. I was heartbroken. Hated it; especially the title song, which was the one they chose to promote. I guess I was just missin’ the Mick Taylor days (if the previous two hadn’t already, this album added even more credence to Taylor’s claims that he deserved songwriting credits for his contributions). Or the psychedelic sound of the late 60s/early 70s. But years later – after the times already had a-changedd - it doesn’t sound near as bad as I remember. In fact, a couple of the songs would have fit nicely on “Some Girls”. Most of the songs are high energy, driving beat, dance type songs. This album doesn’t belong next to their classic stuff, but it didn’t deserve the reluctance with which I approached my self-inflicted assignment of having to listen to it when it came to the top of the “crate” pile.
Scale of 1 to 10:  C +

1- Let Me Go
2- Dance (Pt. 1)
3- Where the Boys Go
4- Send it to Me
5- Down in the Hole
6- Summer Romance
7- Indian Girl
8- All About You
9- She’s So Cold
10- Emotional Rescue

This album is a compilation of outtakes in which some of the songs (but not all) don’t feature the full lineup of Rolling Stones band members. Several guest musicians, including Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Graham Nash are credited on the back of the album cover, but which songs they contribute to is not revealed. I don’t like that RS has included compilation, or more specifically, “greatest hits” albums on their list. But an album in this format – as far as I know none of the songs other than a different version of “Out of Time” was previously released - is acceptable in my opinion. Wiki says the outtakes were taken from sessions prior to the release of “Sticky Fingers” (and also lists the musician credits by song), 1964 to 1969. Which makes for a diverse album and in most cases the songs can be identified fairly close to the year it was produced simply by listening. Probably not a coincidence that the top two songs on my list are from the “Let it Bleed” sessions. It’s not bad for a collection of table scraps. A few of the songs aren’t very good, but you’d have to go fairly deep in my list to find them. “Jiving Sister (censored last time I tried)” is top 35 on my Stones list.
Scale of 1 to 10:  B +

1- Jiving Sister Fanny
2- I Don’t Know Why
3- Don’t Lie to Me
4- Out of Time
5- I’m Going Down
6- Memo from Turner
7- Downtown Suzie
8- Heart of Stone
9- Family
10- If You Let Me
11- Try a Little Harder
12- I’d Much Rather Be With the Boys
13- (Walkin’ Thru The) Sleepy City
14- Each and Every Day of the Year

Tattoo You
I’ve had several occasions in the past to state that “Some Girls” was the last really good Rolling Stones album. Usually someone points to this album as one that belongs in the category. Uhh… Nossir. Can’t go along with that. This album is ok, but not worthy of sitting next to anything produced from 1968 thru the 70s. “Start Me Up” is the signature song from this album but I never cared for it. Mostly for the same reasons I don’t like many Springsteen songs (i.e. “Born in the U.S.A.”). Simple and repetitive. Which isn’t always a bad thing, but if you don’t like the hook, it gets annoying fast. As I review the Stones catalogue it becomes apparent, to me anyway, that Mick Taylor at the very least had a strong influence on the song writing. I really like “Respectable” (off the “Some Girls” LP), but how many times –“Neighbours” and “Hang Fire” – are they gonna do a watered down knock-off of that song? At least “Heaven” shows some creativity as opposed to some of the bland cookie-cutter songs at the bottom of my list. Still, the songs at the top of my list aren’t bad, and really, neither is the album. It’s just that previous Stones albums have set some lofty standards, and this one doesn’t measure up.
Scale of 1 to 10:  C +

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

Some Girls
I bought this shortly after its release, so I own one of the original album covers complete with Raquel Welch and Lucille Ball among others who apparently demanded their image be removed and disassociated with the debauchery of a Rolling Stones album. The Glimmer Twins had a few bullets left in the songwriting chamber for what I consider to be their last really good album.  The style differs a bit from the Mick Taylor era, but the attitude and the energy is still there. Two thru four are interchangeable on my list. My grade seems a bit high, but knocking it down a notch seems too low.
Scale of 1 to 10:  A –

1- Respectable
2- Miss You
3- Beast of Burden
4- When the Whip Comes Down
5- Shattered
6- Before They Make Me Run
7- Far Away Eyes
8- Lies
9- Some Girls
10- Just My Imagination

Dirty Work
This is one of the albums I was originally gonna skip ‘cuz I didn’t like it at all in the vinyl days. The last Rolling Stones album I ever bought. Far removed from the 60s and 70s sound that prompts me to rate the Stones as one of my favorite bands of all time. I bet Charlie missed Mick Taylor more than anyone ‘cuz after Taylor’s departure the next few albums were loaded with the same simple dance-beat type songs, ala “Hang Fire, “Neighbors” etc... This album has about five such songs (seemed like it, anyway). I will say that it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated, though, particularly the first few songs ( I like “Harlem Shuffle”). But really nothing noteworthy here and it probably speaks to how monotonous this album became as I rank a simple, seconds long blues pattern piano solo as the second best song.
Scale of 1 to 10:  C -

1- Harlem Shuffle
2- Key to the Highway
3- One Hit (To the Body)
4- Winning Ugly
5- Fight
6- Back to Zero
7- Hold Back
8- Sleep Tonight
9- Had it With You
10- Too Rude
11- Dirty Work

This one wasn’t near as bad as I expected. It’s not as good as the Rolling Stones albums from their golden era so I kinda dismissed it back in the vinyl days and assumed I would hate it upon this revisit. Although none of the songs stand out as great, the album starts out solid enough but fizzles towards the end. And the lyrics are sub-par. The first five on my list are enjoyable, the last five, not so much.
Scale of 1 to 10:  C +

1- Undercover (Of The Night)
2- She was Hot
3- Feel on Baby
4- Tie You Up (The Pain of Love)
5- Pretty Beat Up
6- Too Tough
7- Wanna Hold You
8- It Must be Hell
9- Too Much Blood
10- All the Way Down

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