rolling stones hold back 1986Can You Hear the Music?


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Rolling Stones songs: Hold Back
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Don’t matter if you ain’t so good looking/ If you ain’t sharp as a blade…

Written by: Jagger/Richards
Recorded: RPM Studios, NYC, USA, July 16-Aug. 17 & Sept. 10-Oct. 15 1985; Right Track Studios, NYC, USA, Nov. 5-Dec. 15 1985
Guest musicians: Ivan Neville (bass), Chuck Leavell (keyboards)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012

From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
’Cause if you follow the crowd, ’cause if you act like a coward, you’ll end up yelling out loud: “Hold Back” is a message of resistance from the Stones to the people. The truth is not necessarily what is written in the history books, nor what is spouted all day long by the media: the song’s message is you have to preserve yourself from every influence and come to your own conclusions about events. In other words, it is only personal experience that counts… As so often in the past, Mick Jagger wrote the lyrics to “Hold Back” and Keith Richards the music.

This time the bassist is Ivan Neville, son of Aaron Neville, the extraordinary singer with the Neville Brothers. Keith appreciated Ivan’s playing so much that he would involve him in all his future solo projects. For now he delivers a very good bass part, at times falling naturally into a slap style (3:07). Keith would later reveal in an interview that “Hold Back” was actually resurrected from the reject pile, mainly on account of Charlie’s drumming (all the track needed was a new bass line). And it is true that the Stones drummer does a superb job, delivering a heavy rock sound with a ferocious groove. He smacks his snare drum with considerable power, laying down a rock-steady foundation for his bandmates.

Keith understood this, and, along with Ron Wood, supports him with some excellent guitar, happily switching between rhythm and licks. Alan Rogan would reveal that Ronnie overdubbed the solo using an RCA amp from the forties (1:54). Bobby Womack also lends a hand on guitar. It is not easy to identify his playing among the various guitar parts, but he seems to be in action in the coda from 3:26. Chuck Leavell plays some discreet organ as well as some phrases on what sounds like a synthesizer at 3:13. Finally, Mick delivers his lyrics in a strained-sounding voice with generous delay. “Hold Back” is probably not the band’s best-ever rock track, but it certainly didn’t deserve to end up as an outtake.

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