I liked the 80’s Stones. They were like a pseudo melodic rock band. But Keith Richards hated it.
You see, Mick Jagger had just released his first solo album, “She’s the Boss” in 1985 and Richards saw this as a betrayal. Richards believed that Jagger’s first priority should be the Rolling Stones and not to pursue a career as a pop star.
“Dirty Work” was released on 24 March 1986. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, he didn’t have an easy job to do as he had to call in various other musicians to get the album done. It was also rare that all the band was in the studio at once.
The band for the album is listed as Mick Jagger on vocals, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood on all things guitars, Bill Wyman on bass and Charlie Watts on drums.
Jagger was often absent from the sessions while Richards recorded with Ronnie Wood, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts.
Jagger added his parts after.
And Charlie Watts was addicted to heroin and alcohol so Steve Jordan and Anton Fig played drums on some tracks (uncredited) and Ronnie Wood on others.
One Hit (To The Body)
It’s that “Rockin In The Free World” vibe in the verses that hooks me.
The song is written by Jagger, Richards and Wood and Jimmy Page also plays on it. The best song on the album.
This is old Stones, with 80’s production and I like it. The song is written by Jagger, Richards and Wood.
This sounds like Mick and Keith turned up to a Blues whiskey bar and started jamming with the house band and I like it.
You can feel the soul and blues drip off every note and every melody. It’s a cover from Bob & Earl, written by Bob Relf and Ernest Nelson.
This Jagger and Richards cut feels like a mess.
The only thing that isn’t a mess is the metronomic drumming from Sir Watts (RIP). Then again I don’t know if it was him or the other uncredited drummers.
It feels like a track from the “Cocktail” movie or a Beach Boys track.
It’s also a cover from Half Pint, a Jamaican Reggae artist who released the song (called “Winsome”) on his 1984 album. Lead vocals are handled by Richards on this and drums are played by Ronnie Wood.
It’s also a skip.
It’s a Jagger and Richards composition. Musically, it’s got a bass riff which is like a 12 bar blues, but the soul feels like a soul rock track.
Back To Zero
It’s a funk rock tune, written by Jagger, Richards and Chuck Leavell who was a member of The Allman Brothers during their 70’s heyday. A bit different, but by this stage, the album is more filler than killer.
The tempo is increased and the band is rocking out of the gate. The song is written by Jagger, Richards and Wood.
Had It With You
A 12 bar blues track, bringing back their 60’s output into the 80’s. Aerosmith is another band that would write tracks like this in the 80’s and well into the 90’s. The song is written by Jagger, Richards and Wood.
A ballad written by Jagger and Richards, which feels like a jam at a Roadhouse Bar late at night when everyone has had too many drinks. Lead vocals are handled by Richards on this and drums are played by Ronnie Wood.
In the end, the first three tracks set the bar high, the title track joins them and the rest of the tracks are there as filler.
And because of the animosity between members, there was no supporting tour for this album. Jagger would later say that it was Watts’ personal state as one of the reasons he vetoed a tour but Richards reckons it was vetoed so that Jagger could start working on his second solo album, “Primitive Cool”. The way Richards saw it, they toured in worse states previously.
The critics panned it, however the album sold well.
In Australia it was a number 2 album, going Platinum on the backs of the singles.
It was a Top 10 album in Austria, Canada, Holland, France, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K and the U.S.
It was also certified Platinum in Canada, New Zealand and the U.S. It was certified Gold in France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.
If you haven’t heard it, give it a listen. If you’ve heard it, give it a re-listen.