I’ve never heard a Rolling Stones album receive more overall flack than this album over the years. It always seemed that whenever they tried something that went beyond their “classic rock” style after the mid 1970’s the rock critics had their red pens at the ready to check mark any culturally disagreeable elements,by their standards anyway. And the mid 80’s was an enormous battlefield for that. The rawness of classic rock was being replaced by slicker production due mainly to technological progress and as with all things some didn’t get into that change. But for all the internal discord (including Keith Richards sporting “Who The $&#! Is Mick Jagger?” t-shirts in public) it’s a credit to this band that they were able to keep up with all the changes in the rock scene with a lot more dignity than one would give them credit for.
Luckily for any Stones fan whose eased past this with caution over the years this album contains primarily one type of music: ROCK,ROCK AND MORE ROCK! “One Hit”,”Fight”,”Hold Back”,the title track and “Had It With You” are all gritty,riff heavy rockers of a similar type that the Stones had started to run into the ground only a few years before but the hot production and yes a few of the loud mid 80’s drum effects give them a new flavor slightly different from the older Stones rockers. Many complain that Mick’s voice is nothing but abrasive on this album but it’s a style he often used so his constant growling of the vocals works here. A few additional highlights are the poppy shuffle of “Winning Ugly” and of course “Harlem Shuffle”,a retro Memphis/Wilson Picket Pickett type soul send up that comes off as a bit of a revved up version of Steve Winwood’s later Roll With It. There’s also “Back To Zero”,a NASTY funk jam with some heavy JB style rhythm guitar and sound pointed use of bass synth as accents.
The album includes another dub type tune in “Too Rude” and includes with the Keith’s heartland rock-style ballad “Sleep Tonight,which actually revvs it up quite a lot towards the middle and includes some wonderfully subtle moments. Believe it or not this album is actually comparatively light on mid 80’s production cliches such as gated drums and excessively loud guitars and synthesizers. It is a cconsistentlymore modern style in terms of the overall production of sound than earlier albums that had a garagier flavor on that end of things. All the same it was something you could here coming (in certain places) on their previous album Undercover. But it certainly isn’t as aggressively contemporary as Mick Jagger’s (in my opinion) equally underrated solo debut She’s the Boss and when it rocks it rocks hard and when it’s funky it’s some of the tightest,nastiest grooves they ever put on record!
Originally posted on April 30th,2011