April 2018 Album of the month: Eels “The Deconstruction”

We are already reaching the end of one third of the year and as usual no time for laziness or deception regarding this monthly review (which by the way has millions of followers now…)

Album of the month: Eels“The Deconstruction” – Pop Rock – I am generally always happy, excited but also scared of being disappointed when one of my all time favourites is back with a new album, as was so with Eels this month. For those not that familiar with this band, Eels is the brainchild of Mark Everett, a.k.a. E. After starting their career with a hit (“Novocaine for the Soul“) in 1996, they have been releasing albums on a regular basis. All these records are more than recommended really and to me Mark Everett’s clear inspiration can be found in Paul McCartney‘s work as a solo artist. Just imagine a more cynical McCartney with a rougher voice and you are not far from Eels’ style of music. The man is quite multi-talented either as a writer (cf. my review of his autobiography) or as an actor. He recently appeared in a few episodes of the great Judd Apatow “Love” series and after getting married, having a baby…and getting divorced again , here he is full of energy after a four-year break for our listening pleasure.

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  • Runner-up: Unknown Mortal Orchestra “Sex & Food” – Pop Rock – What a nice record name! A bit like for Eels, this band could actually bear the name of its leader, Ruban Nielson from New Zealand. This is their fourth album and more than ever the mix of fresh melodies and of a retro and polished production makes it very different from other current releases. To discover if not yet done.
  • Also recommended:
    • Goat Girl “Goat Girl” – Pop Rock – Exciting debut album from this American-sounding all female UK band.
    • Manic Street Preachers – “Resistance Is Futile” – Pop Rock – Very dignified 13th (!) album from the best Welsh rock’n’roll band ever.
    • Drinks “Hippo Lite” – Pop Rock – Second excellent collaboration between Cate Le Bon from Wales and Tim Presley from the USA. Recorded in Saint Hyppolyte du Fort in France, hence the title…
    • Forth Wanderers“Forth Wanderers” – Indie Pop – Debut album signed by Sub Pop. There is something sounding like classical indie pop about this album.
    • Josh T.Pearson  “The Straight Hits!” – Pop Rock – No more beard nor long and slow depressing songs from the Lift to Experience leader, only straight hits!
  • Lest we forget: album of the previous month – Buffalo Tom – “Quiet And Peace

 

Better to burn out than fade away: a parallel between Morrissey and New Musical Express

As written by the great Neil Young and reproduced by Kurt Cobain in his suicide note, this aphorism is probably one of the most famous in the world of rock music. I thought it was quite relevant to two recent events I experienced and which were very much connected with my discovering and love of music in my teenage years.

New Musical Express (nickname NME) was without any question the music Bible for many youngsters from the early 70’s to the mid 90’s. This weekly magazine reached its peak during the punk, post-punk and brit-pop years and at one stage its publication figures were in the hundreds of thousands. Numbers are not all there is to it though and more important in an age when internet was not even a concept, I was one of many people waiting with eagerness to receive (quite late) the latest music news, articles about my idols or new bands to discover. My favourite section was the records review and the straight-to-the-point way of writing of its journalists has remained a fantastic inspiration. I guess it also made me what I am and it gave me in particular a fascination for British music, which was not complicated for a teenager living in France. We all know the joke: “French rock music is the equivalent of British red wine…”.

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Thanks to one of my best high school mates, I subscribed in November ’85 and remained a faithful reader until last month, when NME editing group concluded that the printing version was not sustainable anymore. A real relief I must say as nothing is more painful than watching something you cherished decline at such a point that you feel more embarrassment than anything else. NME ended his first life in 2015 to become a weekly free magazine but the spirit was totally gone and I am sure I was not the only one to be ashamed to see such a cheap publication still bearing the name of my previous beloved magazine.

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Although there were probably more famous covers, the issue that made what I am today was the second one I received by post, dated 30/11/85 and including the journalists’ vote of the 100 greatest albums ever made. Click here to review this amazing list. R.I.P. NME.

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The parallel with Morrissey is an obvious one. NME were the first magazine to champion The Smiths when they appeared on the musical scene of the early 80’s and Morrissey used to write chronicles in the newspaper earlier in the 70’s about his beloved New York Dolls for instance. At one stage, when he went through his first solo years of the late 80’s and early 90’s, there was a joke to rebaptise the NME New Morrissey Express so strong was his presence in the magazine.

..and the question therefore is: should Morrissey also realise that he lost his flame a few year ago and that one only follows him because one knows the beauty and power there used to be in his songs…many years ago. His latest albums are not necessarily bad and there are still a few interesting things to discover here and there but no real subtlety and charm anymore. The way he keeps on hammering his hate of the Royal family or meat eaters for instance is a bit pathetic and closed to the old racist uncle you have to meet at a family wedding ceremony. Interesting to see also how Johnny Marr aged gracefully physically and mentally-speaking, which is not really something one could say about Morrissey.

I went (probably for the last time ever) to see him live at the Royal Albert Hall in March 2018. I must admit the show was quite pleasant although really lacking subtlety. Morrissey’s physical appearance is also a bit unpleasant and one sometimes has the impression to see a sort of “Morrissey in Vegas” show. If I were you, Mister Stephen Patrick Morrissey, I would follow the example of NME and start to think about stopping making music. The man has a real writing talent by the way so would it be the right moment to start another career?

March 2018 Album of the month: Buffalo Tom “Quiet and Peace”

Can one have a job and still write such a monthly review? Easy peasy mate, especially in such another good month in terms of quality and quantity. Those who peruse this blog on a regular basis will find familiar names this time…

Album of the month: Buffalo Tom“Quiet and Peace” – Pop Rock – Buffalo Tom was one of the best bands of the 90’s and their style was a kind of Bruce Springsteen meets Nirvana sound. They reformed a few years ago and one of the best gig I attended last year was when they played their classic “Let Me Come Over” album in their entirety. Their recent LP’s were fine but not as good as their peak period so this new album was a real surprise…and such a treat I must say. Their sound is as sharp as that of a young band and melodies are beautiful. Welcome back again guys!

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  • Runner-up: Tracey Thorn“Record” – Pop Electro – One of my favourite female voices ever, Tracey Thorn was the lead singer of Everything But The Girl. She has been releasing records in the last fifteen years on a not-so-regular basis and for this new effort, she has particularly polished her sound. Her voice has changed as well but the emotion is still here. I attended recently a Rough Trade event when she was interviewed by the great John Grant (with whom I had a nice 10-minute chat) and the least one can say is that her music gives more emotion than her slightly cold and controlled personality…

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  • Also recommended:
    • Jack White “Boarding House Reach” – Pop Rock…but also R’n’B! – Jack White takes risks and does not play only blues and rock-shock! A few misshapes but a few amazing tracks as well.
    • Yo La Tengo – “There’s a Riot Going on” – Pop Rock- Moody and Krautrock sounding LP from one of the best American bands of all times.
    • The Men “Drift” – Rock – Every song is different… Is it the best band’s name in rock?
    • Anna von Hausswolff “Dead Magic” – Church organ Metal – A truly amazing and different record from this Swedish female musician and singer.
    • The Breeders “All Nerve” – Pop Rock – The return of the classic line-up from Kim Deal’s main project, now that she is out of Pixies…
  • Lest we forget: album of the previous month – MGMT – “Little Dark Age

 

February 2018 Album of the month: MGMT “Little Dark Age”

What have in common old favourites or newcomers like Franz Ferdinand, Ezra Furman, Hookworms, The Soft Moon, Joan As Police Woman, Superchunk, Born Ruffians, Grant-Lee Phillips or again The Low Anthem? Well, they all released good records in February but did not make the cut to be in this selection. One of the best month for sure since I started these reviews.

Album of the month: MGMT“Little Dark Age” – Pop Rock – I must say I was not expecting anything anymore from these two Californians. As almost everyone on this planet, I liked and played a lot their debut album “Oracular Spectacular which to me was a very promising record, especially in the balance they had found between success and experimentation. It looks the band were not at ease with such a success and did everything they could to alienate themselves from their fan base by releasing two interesting but difficult psychedelic records in 2010 (“Congratulations“) and 2013 (“MGMT“). What a surprise then to have them back at such a level of excellence. All 10 songs of this LP are great, can be whistled under the shower and mix a pop easiness with cool sounds and bittersweet lyrics. I guess they needed these few years to be back on track. Enjoy!

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  • Runner-up: Field Music “Open Here” – Pop Rock – Another amazing album from the Brewis brothers. I have been posting a lot about this band and still cannot understand why they are not more massive… Their new album is as usual very inventive in terms of melodies and sounds but this time they added up a political conscience. One should remember they come from Sunderland, known in the UK as Brexit city with its 62% of Leave voters and they are neither proud nor happy about it. “Count It Up” in particular is a nice and effective song about all the privileges we have in the so-called Western countries without realising it. I met them recently at a Rough Trade concert and signing event and they were as nice as one could guess. Keep up the good work boys.

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  • Also recommended:
    • Ought “Room Inside The World” – Pop Rock – Excellent angular music from this Canadian band lead by the great Tim Darcy.
    • Rhye – “Blood” – Syrupy Soul – Sade reincarnated as a male Canadian singer.
    • Marlon Williams “Make Way For Love” – Rock – Beautiful break-up songs. If you like Chris Isaak or Richard Hawley, this is for you.
    • Richard Russell “Everything Is Recorded” – Electro R’n’B – Soulful music from the XL label boss with invitees, including Sampha‘s fantastic voice
    • The Skull Defekts “Skull Defekts” – Noisy – Final album from this band from Sweden ; the most powerful record since the start of the year.
  • Lest we forget: album of the previous month – Ty Segall – “Freedom’s Goblin

 

A magical night with Flyte, Heath Street Baptist Church, 23rd February 2018

There is something incredible indeed when one loves music… How can this young band I had never heard of before last August suddenly becomes one of my favourite? How can a guy in his late forties be moved by youngsters in their 20’s playing classical pop/rock? That is really the beauty of it I guess and why I will keep on trying to discovering new bands and genres hopefully until my last breath.

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Flyte released their first proper album “The Loved Ones” last August and although I did not pay much attention first, it happened to be a grower and eventually one of my favourite albums of 2017 (ranked #5 in my end of the year-list). Claiming they are here to create a new style of music would be a lie. To my mind, their goal is to keep on the tradition of great pop/rock as, say, a blacksmith would like to keep on working on stuff the way his elders used to do so but in a modern way. Spontaneous influences to me are bands such as Prefab Sprout, The Bluebells or Pale Fountains for instance. In other words, all those great bands which appeared in the 80’s and wanted to keep on the great work done by their own influences.

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Last Friday’s gig was a special one as it was held in the beautiful context of the Heath Street Baptist Church, in the Hampstead borough, one of the most beautiful places in London. The 400-something tickets sold out in a few minutes and I was very happy to be one of the lucky few. The band really look like they are out of university as they are really young but also very much dedicated to their art…rather than their clothes or hair style. They played all the album, an old “classic” and also two great brand new songs. The musicianship of the four members is incredible either concerning their pure talent or on the team spirit they showed throughout the gig. Special mention in particular to keyboard/guitar player Sam Berridge who wrote in a couple of days the arrangements for the strings quartet which accompanied the band on the majority of the tracks.

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They have a formidable singer and leader with Will Taylor for sure but the four of them sing beautifully as well. The peak of the evening was without doubt their a capella cover of Alvvays‘ “Archie, Marry Me“, the kind of song which gives shivers down one’s spine. As Will said at the end of the gig, like a pastor speaking to his faithful listeners, “Spread the good word”. You will not find a more beautiful band than Flyte; discover them!

Clouds and Fire! Two artists at the top of their game: Iron & Wine (London Apollo, 16th February 2018) & Kendrick Lamar (Wembley Arena, 20th February 2018)

Two very different concerts within four days except that these two artists are among my favourite ones and currently at the top of their games so I thought it would be interesting to write a common review.

  • Iron & Wine, London Eventim Apollo, 16th February 2018

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For those who have not read yet the many posts I did on this band, Iron & Wine is the musical and stage name of Sam Beam, a very talented guy from Texas who happened also to be a father of five daughters …and the owner one of the most beautiful beards in the indie rock scene. He has been a long favourite of mine, basically since 2007 when I cherished his “The Shepherd’s Dog” album after driving through Texas that year. I have been lucky to catch him on stage in a few countries (USA, France, UK) and these gigs have never been anything else than pure joy so good is the guy on stage.

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Half Waif, the project of American-Indian Nandi Rose Plunkett singer, was a very good opening act. Funnily enough, I was seated just near her aunt and uncle (from Ashford, UK!) who were both very proud and moved by their niece’s beautiful voice.

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Sam Beam got on stage a bit later and he was as usual a mixed bag of emotion, cynicism and great humour. However, his great personality would be nothing without the beauty of his voice and songs and once again that was an amazing gig. There is a quality in his voice and melodies which may look common at first hearing for the non-converted but which is in reality completely different from that of a regular folk singer. First, his arrangements are always very subtle and influenced by pop, rock or even hip hop sometimes (he did a great cover of New Order‘s “Love Vigilantes“). Secondly, his themes and lyrics are nothing but extraordinary, mixing day-to-day life and poetry sometimes in the same sentence. Catch him live if you can or at least start to listen to these recommended records if you want to know more.

  • Kendrick Lamar, Wembley Arena, 20th February 2018

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I had a sort of hesitation to catch the incredible Kendrick Lamar on stage but I eventually went to see this gig, having the pleasure of being accompanied by my favourite teenager. For those who followed this blog on a regular basis, you will probably know I am a huge fan of this young rapper (well, not so young as I spotted he is now in his early 30’s) and that his last records have all been in my end of the year list (ALBUM OF THE YEAR actually in 2015). So indeed there was no real reason not to catch him live. However, I was a bit afraid to have again the Drake syndrome, i.e. not to find live Kendrick Lamar’s songs as good on stage as they are on records.

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It was fortunately not to be so and I must say it was an incredible and dense show. The great James Blake, his subtle electro/rock music and his beautiful voice put everyone in the right mood for the arrival of Kend…, sorry Kenny, our kung-fu turtle master of the evening. The guy played all night on his own on stage and unless I am wrong, there was no musician anywhere and the music was totally sampled from his records. The show itself was very good and full of rhythm and energy, although there was sometimes too much fire lights and special effects to my taste.

To put it differently, it could have been a not so pleasant mass celebration kind of show but that was not the case at all, thanks to the charismatic but quite humble personality of that evening’s host. Clothed in a beautiful colourful suit, our MC showed to his audience as much talent as energy and respect to his audience. One cannot say the guy is idle as after two sold-out gigs at the O2 Arena the previous week, he went back to the US to entertain the NBA All-Star before travelling back to London. ..and you may have noted he was the main musical force under the OST of the Black Panther movie, just released a few days ago. In a nutshell, Kendrick Lamar is currently at the top of his game in terms of art and like all great artists in such a position (say David Bowie, Prince, Radiohead or again Jack White), he does not sleep on his laurels but takes advantage of this period to be as productive as one can be. Good job Kenny!

The Rolling Stones discography : Part Four – The 90’s until today

With four records to review in the last 29 years, this review was quick to do. Quite interesting though as apart from the last blues covers album releases in 2016, I did not remember at all the other three in terms of content. I even listened to “Stripped” from 1995, thinking it was a covers’ album while it was actually a sort of live album. Anyway, here is the final package of the whole review. I hope you liked it and that it made you want again to listen to classic records or forgotten ones from this incredible band.

Complete review: Part I (the 60’s) – Part II (the 70’s) – Part III (the 80’s)

 Voodoo Lounge (1994) : Once again, the band delivers the goods on this LP, supervised by the excellent producer Don Was. Five years since their previous album, in times when in five years music trends can be created and over with, the Rolling Stones would now face the same questions again and again: “why are we still doing it having in mind we won’t have an impact anymore?”, “Shall we stick to our blues roots (Keith) or try to update our sound (Mick)?”, “Do we really love each other?”. I guess the answers lie in the questions… This album anyway is particularly successful in getting a dynamic and modern sound while keeping the band close to their essence. A few tracks are really amazing and are regularly played in concerts. So, in a nutshell, another very good one! Oh, and by the way…, Bill Wyman is not a Rolling Stones member anymore if anyone is interested…(8/10). Key tracks : “Love Is Strong“, “You Got Me Rocking” & “Moon Is Up“.

 Bridges To Babylon (1997) :  Considered by many fans and critics are one of the worst ones, I tried once again to listen to it without prejudice and fresh ears and I must say I was quite excited as totally oblivious of this album. I know it may appear as a lack of critical sense (which is the ANTI-ME!) but I have to admit this one really good as well. Of course, there are a few misses here and there, due to Mick’s eagerness to sound sometimes like a real cool hip-hop dude but overall a very enjoyable album. Look at the three tracks I selected and tell me these are not great ones! (7.5/10). Key tracks : “Anybody Seen My Baby“, “Out Of Control” & “Saint Of Me”.

 A Bigger Bang (2005) : …and here we are, the Rolling Stones releasing an album of original songs in the 21st century; who would have thought about it really? This album was mainly the brainchild of Keith Richards and one can feel indeed a nice and constant blues rock feel through it. The main issue is that there are 16 songs on this album and a few of them are just okish. It would have made a killer 10-track LP but overall still a nice and dignified effort.  (7/10). Key tracks : “Let Me Down Slow”, “Biggest Mistake” & “Laugh, I Nearly Died“.

 Blue & Lonesome (2016) :  More than ten years since their last studio album and with an unexpected December 2016 release (meaning a bit late to be in the traditional best of lists…including mine), this album is actually only made out of blues covers. The original plan for the band was to gather in a London studio and rehearse original material. It looks though that nothing good came out of it and the band started to play a few obscure blues covers to have fun and get the energy. One song was recorded, then a second one and little by little the band realised they had a new album. And what an amazing album this is! To me, blues is a great form of music to catch on stage but somehow slightly boring and repetitive on records…which is not true at all here. The Rolling Stones play as if their lives of men in their seventies depended on it, the sound is huge and pure and Mick sings with an ageless voice. One of their best records ever. (9/10). Key tracks : “Commit A Crime“, “All Of Your Love” & “Ride ‘Em On Down”.

 

…and so the verdict is that there is no awful Rolling Stones record, that a few forgotten ones are excellent and deserve to be listened to again and that their classics are even better than their reputation. Long live to The Rolling Stones!

 

A kind of magic: Jeff Tweedy (Wilco frontman) playing acoustic songs at the Barbican, 3rd February 2018

I was looking forward to seeing this gig for a long time first because I like the guy so much but also as it was held in my beloved Barbican Centre, the best cultural place in London. It had not been too long a time since I last caught Jeff Tweedy on stage as part of Wilco but last night’s gig was different as it was purely solo acoustic Tweedy.

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A bit of a dream come true concert to be honest as to me Jeff Tweedy is the definition of what a musician should be: amazing songwriter, beautiful voice, very much involved in the current times we are living (Wilco is with The National amongst President Obama’s favourite bands thanks to their Chicago common origins) and also a great passionate producer who has revitalised Mavis Staples‘ career.

After a very nice opening from US-exile English “person” (as he said) James Elkington, Jeff arrived on stage, alone as expected with just an acoustic guitar…and his Stetson hat. Playing amazing songs the acoustic way is always a difficult and tricky exercise, especially when they are known for the beauty and richness of their arrangements. No such hesitation last night though. Jeff started his set with probably three of his best songs (“Via Chicago“, “I am trying to break your heart” and “Ashes of American flags“) with such a natural beauty and emotion that we were all ready for a fantastic evening. Jeff Tweedy is known not to have a particular setlist and to play depending on the mood. Well, his mood must have been particularly good and relaxed as the choice of songs was incredible, including my best favourite Wilco song (“Impossible Germany“), making it all a superb setlist.

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An amazing set then…and a few incredible funny moments taking place throught the dialogues between him and the audience, which was made of a majority of American citizens. Very funny talks about his signature guitar, his hat, how he tunes his guitar or the beauty of not having hits in one’s career when one has to play live. The most moving and funny thing though was when he sang the last verse of the Wilco/Billy Bragg song based on Woody Guthrie lyrics (“Remember the mountain bed“) as requested by a female audience member. He actually did it, therefore making her delighted, and told us then that he should do it more often, i.e. only sing one verse per song rather than bothering to play entire songs! Not sure if it sounds so great when one does not live the actual moment but trust me that one was good…

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For those who went this far in the review, I recommend his 2017 album “Together at last” which is basically in the same spirit as last night’s concert or Wilco’s best records as selected in my Top 100 encyclopaedia (let’s be proud of our work!).

January 2018 Album of the month: Ty Segall “Freedom’s Goblin”

Another new year, long hours spent listening to new records, once again happily surprised by the diversity and quantity of good records in all styles of music, difficult decision to make (what? no Django Django?, no Calexico?), …you know the drill. To keep the level of excellence since this review has been initiated a year ago, the album of the month is a fantastic one. It looks also that despite a few statements done here and there in the press, rock music is here to stay. I have been listening to lots of records this month and the ones which gave me excitement, passion or emotion were pure rock’n’roll records done by young men. So all is not lost…and rock is far from being dead!

Album of the month: Ty Segall“Freedom’s Goblin” – Rock – One of the hardest working men in show-business along Dave Grohl or Jack White, Ty Segall has been releasing an impressive number of records in the last five years, either under his name or through his many projects. I have been following his production for a few years now and caught him live playing drums like a maniac at the End of the Road festival in 2015. This new album though is by far his best and most ambitious one. With 19 tracks and 1h 15minutes of music, Ty Segall revisits all his great influencers (Neil Young, garage rock, Elliott Smith, The Velvet Underground or again The Beatles‘ White Album) whilst making it sound very modern and more importantly his own. A record to listen again and again to enjoy all its treasures. A very good way to start the year!

 

  • Runner-up: The Limiñanas “Shadow People” – Garage Rock – Originally from the nice Perpignan area in France, Lionel (voice and guitar) and Marie (drums) Limiñana are a married couple and have been making records for a few years now. Their main music love is clearly garage rock but with a touch of post-punk influences (The Cure or Joy Division amongst others). Their new album has been recorded with the help of the great Anton Newcombe from The Brian Jonestown Massacre and one can feel a new freshness in their sounds. I was lucky to see them live recently as Rough Trade East and their set was excellent. Nice chat as well afterwards with a Catalan accent!

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  • Also recommended:
    • Shame “Songs of Praise” – Rock – Debut LP from South London young band with Gang Of Four / Magazine influences.
    • No Age – “Snares Like a Haircut” – Rock – Less angry as usual ; their best album so far.
    • Black Rebel Motorcycle Club “Wrong Creatures” – Rock – Always the same, always different… Good to have them back
    • Nils Frahm “All Melody” – Classical Electro – Beautiful new effort from the Berliner
    • Arthur H “Amour Chien Fou” – French chanson – A double album from the worst English accent singer ever! A few songs are very moving.
  • Lest we forget: album of the previous month – U2 – “Songs Of Experience

 

The Rolling Stones discography : Part Three – The 80’s

…and here we are, reaching the infamous 80’s, the decade when all major artists (Neil Young, Paul McCartney, David Bowie,…) faced supposedly difficult artistic times. I guess this is also spontaneously the kind of comments one would do about The Rolling Stones in the 80’s. But apart from the pink and yellow aerobic outfits worn by Mick Jagger, were the 80’s such a bad time in terms of pure music releases? Well, it looks that was not so…and I must say as I had a really good time listening to all these records again.

Complete review: Part I (the 60’s) – Part II (the 70’s) – Part IV (the 90’s until today)

Emotional Rescue Emotional Rescue (1980) : This album can be considered as a little brother of their previous LP “Some Girls“. Of course, it would be known if it were such a good album but there are a few amazing tracks also here, trying to mix their rock’n’roll roots with a bit of disco. A few songs are also very original, which makes this album a very singular one. To (re)discover . (8/10). Key tracks : “Dance (Pt.1)“, “Down In The Hole” & “Emotional Rescue“.

Tattoo You Tattoo You (1981) : Another Rolling Stones album just one year after their previous one; we are indeed talking about another age here compared to their production sequence in the years to come. This album was supposed to express their returning back to their original roots…and this is not really so as to my mind, when you have Keith Richards in your band, you will always more or less be close to your blues and rock’n’roll roots. Not the masterpiece a few fans or journalists want this to be, this is still a very solid album…and it has “Start Me Up” on it, one of their greatest live songs ever! (7.5/10). Key tracks : “Start Me Up“, “Heaven” & “Waiting On A Friend”.

Undercover Undercover (1983) : With its nice and modern cover, this album could appear as a desperate tentative to remain hip amongst a young public fan, at a time when hip-hop was starting to grow as a genre. I must say this album aged quite well and a few songs are really rough and primitive. Once again, having Charlie Watts and Keith Richards in your band is the best cure to fight the disease other artists got in the early 80’s in terms of awful sounds. (7/10). Key tracks : “Undercover Of The Night”, Too Much Blood” & “Pretty Beat Up“.

Dirty Work Dirty Work (1986) : Ok, the cover is ugly and one can feel the animosity between the Glimmer Twins at that stage. This is supposed to be their weakest album of all times and I remember reading a quite critical review in the NME at the time. On a personal matter, this was the year when music for me was magical with all these amazing bands and artists such as The Smiths, The Fall, Prince, The Go-Betweens, Sonic Youth, Elvis Costello,… (have a look at NME’s 1986 list and you will be amazed). However, the beauty in listening back with no prejudice to albums is that one can be surprised sometimes. And I was, in particular by the constant aggression and energy felt throughout the tracks. Another one to (re) discover I must say. (7.5/10). Key tracks : “One Hit (To The Body)”, “Harlem Shuffle” & “Winning Ugly.

Steel Wheels Steel Wheels (1989) : And here we are, reaching the end of the 80’s…with one of their best albums of all times. I am not sure many music lovers share this with me but I remember being a huge fan of this album at the time of its release and a new listening did not change my mind at all. I could easily have chosen 5 or 6 excellent tracks, in particular the amazing “Continental Drift” recorded with Moroccan musicians. Let’s not forget that The Rolling Stones were virtually no more and that Mick Jagger just came back to Keith Richards when he realised he would never had as much success with his solo career. As Keith told him on the phone, “…darling, this thing is bigger than the both of us…” (9/10). Key tracks : “Mixed Emotions”, “Rock And A Hard Place” & “Can’t Be Seen”.

So the 80’s were actually quite a good decade for The Rolling Stones. Stay tuned for the final part of this review and their latest releases since the start of the 90’s!