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Keith Richards on starting to record ‘Main Offender’ (1992):
“With Steve Jordan, he’s around the corner. I’m at this place, or he’s at my place. It’s a very close thing – I’ve got an idea, boom, we can start on it right away. We sit around in a room with a couple of guitars and a drum kit or piano and a tape recorder and start talking about stuff – Do you remember that great song Otis played? – and wait to see where it drifts.”
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About the 30th anniversary release of Main Offender, from Record Collector magazine:
tarting with 2010’s cloth-bound Wingless Angels expansion, Keith Richards has been raising the bar for boxsets reconfigured as works of art while serving the diehard fan’s wildest dreams for content. Echoing his bespoke attitude to fashion and customising hotel rooms, his vinyl-tilted reissues beautifully reflect his idiosyncratic personality, from love of luxurious materials and old school craftmanship to undying awe at his X-Pensive Winos.
Talk Is Cheap’s 2019 reissue came swathed in wooden Fender textures, 2020’s Live At The Hollywood Palladium in black velvet, both topping the Stones for personal memorabilia aimed at unashamed obsessives. Completing the Winos’ first phase trilogy, Main Offender’s Super Deluxe houses numbered uncropped cover photo (signed by the photographer Dewey Nicks), leather-bound book containing previously unseen photos and hand-scribbled lyrics, smoke-coloured vinyl and memorabilia including plectrum, posters, tour and promo material. The set’s pièce de resistance is the Winos Live In London ’92, a double album of highlights from Keith’s extraordinary 49th birthday show at London’s Town & Country Club on December 18th, 1992.
Main Offender was always going to be a more relaxed affair than 1988’s solo debut, the one that had started as Keith’s return salvo in the “World War Three” raging after Mick Jagger’s own career derailed the Stones. Leading the X-Pensive Winos gave him a new swagger when the Stones inevitably reconvened the following year.
(Ref. keith richards main offender)
After the mega-successful Steel Wheels, Keith had another album to do in his Virgin solo contract so reconvened guitarist Waddy Wachtel, keyboardist Ivan Neville and bassist Charley Drayton to flesh and hone primal funky groove skeletons he’d been forging with drumming co-conspirator Steve Jordan at a lower Manhattan demo studio. The icing on the cake arrived with intricately conceived counter-vocals from Sarah Dash, Bernard Fowler and Babi Floyd.
“If I hadn’t taken the Winos on the road, this record probably would have been totally different than it is,” explained Keith, citing “emotions”, “feelings” and “vulnerability” as key elements in the songs. These were infused with New York energy, soul flavours and deepening richness in his voice, spiced by the players’ supernatural embellishments and those incantatory vocal harmonies. After 999’s churning grind sets the scene, the melodically upbeat Eileen, Yap Yap and Wicked As It Seems work snaky hoodoo magic, settling into densely insidious grooves. It’s a more unified band creation than the aggressive retaliation of its predecessor, gloriously oblivious to everything but the joy of playing together.
Words Of Wonder is Keith’s rootsiest reggae outing yet, his semi-spoken vocal riding the rimshot-ricochet dub skank then sparring playfully with the late Sarah Dash over Bodytalk’s sensual vamp. The relentless funky grooves abate on soul-baring slowie Demon and gorgeous Motown-flecked confessional Hate It When You Leave, Keith’s most sensitive vocal framed by muted southern horns.
Now Charlie Watts’ replacement in the Stones, Jordan’s remastering enhancing Main Offender’s unique infernal alchemy rekindles the question of how the Winos might’ve evolved before going on ice until 2015’s Crosseyed Heart. That’s partly answered by the bonus album capturing the band as flame-snorting monster on 1992’s four-month tour of the Americas and Europe (witnessed by this writer at a secret Marquee show and Town & Country). Tangibly moved by the euphoric crowd on “the best birthday I ever had”, Keith and his comrades have a roof-raising blast scorching through solo album tracks along with a smoldering Gimme Shelter, triumphant Before They Make Me Run and heart-swelling Happy. It all provides a priceless finale for this awesome monument to Keith’s other magic band. (Ref. keith richards main offender)