Every fan knows that when it comes to The Glimmer Twins, there are two sides between the fences of devotion in Stones camp, Keith Richards or Mick Jagger— you like one more than the other, and never equally. I have always been a Keef fan. He’s a more traditional straight shooter who tells you like it is. He’s got a heart of saint and a soul of a sinner. He personifies everything that we want and need in the world of rock and roll excess.
But there’s something to be said about Mick Jagger and his role as our favorite Stone. I got to give Jagger props; Mick’s the guy who’s tries to evolve the Stones sound into something more modern. There’s Mick always incorporating contemporary rhythms with the classic blues vibe of our Rolling Stones. Keef is the old school bluesman who resists the temptation of adding modern jingles to the Stones. It’s this electric dichotomy and difference in mindsets by these two musicians that make the Stones such a distinctive monster that won’t ever go away.
This is the one aspect of Jagger that I respect the most. If it wasn’t for Mick, The Dust Brothers wouldn’t have worked their magic on “Anybody Seen My Baby” and “Saint of Me” on the underappreciated Bridges to Babylon. It didn’t start there; just go back listen to the disco beats on 1978’s “Miss You” and the percussive layered reverberations on 1983’s “Undercover of The Night.”
Jagger had been experimenting more since before sucking in the seventies as a solo artist. It wasn’t until the eighties, during the much publicized sabbatical of his beloved Stones, that Jagger’s solo career went platinum. This year brings a collection of his most beloved solo cuts on The Very Best of Mick Jagger.
Being on the proud side of Keef’s camp, I preferred his solo LPs Talk is Cheap and Main Offender so, theoretically, I shouldn’t like any of Mick’s albums. But after revisiting his past output on this compilation I have to admit a lot of his solo recordings are creatively on the cutting edge and very rhythmically addicting.
Some of Mick’s most familiar solo songs are here, like 1985’s collaboration with David Bowie on the top ten single “Dancing in the Streets” to my favorite, 1983’s “Just Another Night.” The latter had been a radio staple I heard on the radio during my days growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Walking around, this year with the festive sounds of the French Quarter around me, I had this song in my head during my vacation con mi novia in New Orleans. You can’t but smile, dance and enjoy life whilst listening to a Mick Jagger song.
That’s the way he records them—with the enthusiasm of a cosmic rock and roll dancer. He has to feel the beat as he sings to the songs live. Even while listening back to the playback, if Mick doesn’t feel it, Jagger cuts the song again. He wants everyone to feel the vibe on songs like “Put Me in the Trash,” from your feet through your soul. You have to respect the goal of an artist who wants to move you with his electric muse from afar.
Since I am a relative novice to Jagger’s discography, there are some songs that I newly discovered on this CD. I enjoyed the rocking “God Gave Me Everything” with Lenny Kravitz on guitar. You can’t help but get down to the “Undercover”-inspired, beat heavy “Let’s Work.” My favorite has to be the very elegantly beautiful ballad “Evening Gown,” a piano-based and Americana flavored ode to growing old with his amor.
Look for some unearthed gems like the John Lennon produced and the very funky “Too Many Cooks (Spoil the Soup).” This one sounds like the perfect groovy theme song to an unmade action films from the seventies. I love the equally marvelous and flamenco flavored “Charmed Life” that features Mick’s daughter Karis on backing vocals. If you were aching for some Stones inspired blues, look towards “Checking Up on my Baby” with L.A.’s Red Devils laying down the low down backbeats that will definitely cure your fix.
One of my favorite cuts is the Golden Globe award winning “Old Habits Die Hard.” Written and recorded with ex-Eurythmic Dave Stewart, this song was featured in the much forgotten remake of Alfie with Jude Law. Unfortunately for Law, Jagger’s song was the best thing about the movie. On” Old Habits” Mick perfectly brings out the authentic dreamy eyed unlucky in love romantic that’s buried inside of us.
I have to say that the best song on The Very Best of has to be the classic “Memo from Turner” from the soundtrack of Performance. “Memo” reflects the true essence of Mick’s solo incarnation. Throughout his illustrious solo career, Mick always had his soul in the past and voice set in eye of the future. Even without the Stones, Jagger has been making waves that will resonate alone with the sound smooth lyrical soul man. Listen as he lays down his killer vocals on songs behind these southern fried blues beats; he always finds the perfect rhymes to rock you in the morning, noon, night— and beyond.
Faces – The Best of Faces: Good Boys When They’re Asleep
Ron Wood – Ronnie Wood Anthology: The Essential Crossexion
The Rolling Stones – 40 Licks