rolling stones tattoo you song by song 1981Albums song-by-song


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Rolling Stones albums song-by-song: TATTOO YOU
*By Marcelo Sonaglioni

That’s right, we might say time wasn’t exactly on the Stones side in late 1980. The group had previously reached a consensus to embark on a tour across the United States in 1981, followed by additional performances in European countries during the next year. The isue persisted as the time to produce an album for touring was limited, forcing the Stones to resort to their collection of past recordings. Yes, in 1981, the Rolling Stones were kind of stuck.

They had made a commitment to a huge summer tour and were eager to capitalize on the chance to market their latest album. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had a rift in their relationship resulting in minimal communication and a lack of new music being produced, with time running out. According to Richards in 1993, “There was no time to make a whole new album and make the start of the tour”

The band chose a number of unfinished tracks and abandoned demos to produce something entirely new in time for the tour by revisiting sessions for older albums like Goats Head Soup and Some Girls as well as more recent ones like Emotional Rescue. “They’re all from different periods,” Mick Jagger told Rolling Stone magazine in 1995. “Then I had to write lyrics and melodies. A lot of them didn’t have anything, which is why they weren’t used at the time – because they weren’t complete. They were just bits, or they were from early takes. And then I put them all together in an incredibly cheap fashion.”

Engineer Chris Kimsey, who has worked with the band for a long time, came up with a beautiful answer. He reasoned that since they had five albums in the previous seven years, perhaps there were enough good outtakes or unfinished drafts to compile a record. “I spent three months going through like the last four, five albums finding stuff that had been either forgotten about or, at the time, rejected,” Kimsey said in a 1982 interview. “And then I presented it to the band and I said, ‘Hey, look, guys, you’ve got all this great stuff sitting in the can and it’s great material, do something with it.’”
The result was the Tattoo You album, one of the most curious entries in the Rolling Stones’ discography.

The Stones’ 24 studio albums since their 1964 debut, England’s Newest Hit Makers, have all reached the Top Five, but Tattoo You was their last album to debut at No. 1 on the US charts. It achieved four times platinum certification, which was only surpassed by 1978’s Some Girls, which sold six million copies and featured the beloved opening track “Start Me Up.” It’s generally agreed that Tattoo You is the last truly great Rolling Stones record, but it’s doubtful that it even functions as one.

The Stones had to deal with a lack of cooperation among members in addition to being pressed for time. According to Kimsey, “Tattoo You really came about because Mick and Keith were going through a period of not getting on.There was a need to have an album out, and I told everyone I could make an album from what I knew was still there”

Tattoo You, despite using unconventional recording techniques, was released in August 1981 and, like the Rolling Stones’ previous six albums, reached the top of the charts. It also contained some of the band’s most well-known songs.

The Stones’ most well-known song of all time (probably, along with Satisfaction”), “Start Me Up,” which serves as Tattoo You‘s opening track, was originally called “Never Stop” and was cut during the Some Girls recording sessions. Then the group began to play a previous take. “That take on Tattoo You was the only take that was a complete rock ‘n’ roll take,” said Mick Jagger in 1995. “And then it went to reggae completely for about 20 takes. And that’s why everyone said, ‘Oh, that’s crap. We don’t want to use that.’ And no one went back to take two, which was the one we used – the rock track.”

On “Hang Fire,” Jagger and Richards, not exactly known for their delicacy, take direct aim at England with the line, “In the sweet old country where I come from, nobody ever works, yeah, nothing gets done.”
“It serves them right for kickin’ us out,” said Keith Richards about the the song in 1983, remembering the time the band left the country in 1971 because of the massive tax bill the Stones owed to the British government. “It’s England coming to terms with a whole lot of problems that have been brewing for years, and the only thing it needed for these problems to come to a head was for the money to get tight.”
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Although “Slave” lacks a true lyrical narrative, its impressive guest list more than makes up for it. Backing vocals are provided by Pete Townshend of The Who. The song, which dates from 1976’s Black and Blue sessions, gets a solo from jazz virtuoso saxophonist Sonny Rollins, who also plays on two other album tracks. Later on, Rollins admitted that it was his wife who persuaded him to take the job. “I didn’t relate to them, because I thought they were just derivative of black blues,” Rollins told The New York Times in 2020. “I do remember once I was in the supermarket up in Hudson, N.Y., and they were playing Top 40 records. I heard this song and thought, ‘Who’s that guy?’ His playing struck a chord in me. Then I said, “Wait a minute, that’s me!” It was my playing on one of those Rolling Stones records.”
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“Little T&A,” an Emotional Rescue leftover that opens with a vintage Richards riff, showcases the guitarist’s natural ability to pen a straightforward rock’n’roll song with slap-back delay and gritty lead vocals.
“That song’s just about every good time I’ve had with somebody I’d met for a night or two, and never seen again,” Keith Richards explained in 1983. “And also about the shit that sometimes goes down when you just sort of bump into people unknowingly and not knowing the scene you’re walking in on, you know? You pick up a chick and end up spending the night in the tank, you know?
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Compared to the previous song on the album, “Black Limousine” presents a slightly more sentimental and divergent viewpoint on women. The song, which came from the Some Girls sessions, is one of the few for which guitarist Ron Wood is given writing credit. A vintage Texas blues style served as the foundation for the main riff.
“‘Black Limousine’ came about from a slide guitar riff that was inspired in part by some Hop Wilson licks from a record that I once owned,” Woody said in 2003. “I thought, ‘That’s really good, I’m going to apply that.’
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If you live next to a rock guitarist, don’t count on getting a good night’s sleep. Following noise complaints made by other residents of the building in 1981, Richards and his wife Patti Hansen were kicked out of their New York City apartment. Jagger apparently wrote the lyrics to “Neighbours” in response to his bandmate’s housing issues; the song’s basic structure was later worked on for Emotional Rescue. The band has the last laugh, jamming in an apartment and singing out the window for all to hear, as seen in the music video that goes along with the song.
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The Stones went back several albums to Black and Blue to put “Worried About You” together, a ballad that includes a guitar solo by Wayne Perkins, who had once tried out to replace Mick Taylor, and Billy Preston on keyboards.
“It was a bit of discovery period for me as well as being discovered,” recalled Perkins in 2017. “I was thinking more like a session player, but it was becoming clear to me that these guys were serious and wanted me as their new guitar player. It was a great situation to be thrust into.
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Mick Taylor appears on Tattoo You despite having left the group seven years prior thanks to “Tops,” a song from the Goats Head Soup era that features his fiery guitar solo. Along with playing percussion, the song features pianist Nicky Hopkins and former band producer Jimmy Miller. Taylor stands out because of his unique playing style. In his ‘Life’ biography, Keith Richards notes that Taylor has a “melodic touch, a beautiful sustain and a way of reading a song.
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Without Richards or Wood present, “Heaven”, which originally started to take shape during 1980’s Emotional Rescue sessions, came together in the studio during a midnight session. The song was recorded without the two guitarists by Jagger, producer Chris Kimsey, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts.
Kimsey: “Mick started playing the chord sequence, and I sat down at the piano and started following along, and next thing I knew, it sounded really good. So I told the assistant to roll it, and we put some things on it and it sounded very good.
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The second of two Tattoo You songs including a songwriting credit from Ronnie Wood. He soon understood that he needed to speak up if he wanted to be on a Rolling Stones record as the group’s newest member. “One of the lessons I had to learn was that if you want to get a credit,” Ronnie remembered, “it has to happen there and then in the studio, as you’re recording it.
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“Waiting on a Friend” is a sweet love letter from Jagger to his bandmates that first took shape during the Goats Head Soup sessions in Jamaica in 1972. It serves as a charming conclusion to a rock-filled album. “We all liked it at the time, but it didn’t have any lyrics,” Jagger wrote for the liner notes of 1993’s Jump Back compilation. Nicky Hopkins on piano, Sonny Rollins on sax, and Santana’s Mike Carabello on percussion are among the new additions.”The lyrics I added is very gentle and loving, about friendships in the band.”, Jagger said.
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