rolling stones it must be hell 1983Can You Hear the Music?



Rolling Stones songs: It Must Be Hell
*Click for 

We’re free to worship, we’re free to speak/ We’re free to kill, that’s guaranteed…

Written by: Jagger/Richards
Recorded: EMI Pathé Marconi Studios, Paris, France, Nov. 11-Dec. 16 1982; Compass Point Studios, Nassau, Bahamas, May 1983; The Hit Factory, NYC, USA, June-July 1983
Guest musicians: Moustapha Cisse, Brahms Coundoul, Martin Ditcham and Sly Dunbar (percussion), 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:
“It Must Be Hell” sees Mick Jagger once again venturing into political
territory. This time his target is not South America (“Undercover of the
Night”), but presumably the countries that were then (a few years before the
fall of the Berlin Wall) in the grip of communism. He paints an apocalyptic
picture: millions of people unemployed, hungry children unable to read or
write, and prisons and asylums filled with those whose thinking is not in
line with the party’s; in other words, the politically “incorrect.” Mick Jagger
seems to have embarked on a crusade against stifling knowledge. His words
are carried by another highly typical Stones riff that brings “Soul Survivor”
to mind.

And there is a reason for this: good old Keith has simply recycled the riff of
the closing track of Exile on Main St. for the intro to “It Must Be Hell.” He
makes a powerful sound, most likely on one of his Telecaster 5-strings in
open G, played through a Mesa Boogie amp, again with MXR Analog
Delay. The Stones are trying to bring Undercover to a close with a rock
number of the kind they are renowned for, but the magic is not there. There
is too much discord between them. This is a shame because the track is
interesting in more than one respect. Charlie’s drumming is as brilliant as
ever, with plenty of swing in his sticks, if not quite as much power as
during the Jimmy Miller era. Bill accompanies him with an excellent bass
part, the sound very clean and rounded, played almost certainly on his
Travis Bean TB 2000 plugged straight into the console. Keith is supported
on rhythm by two other guitars, and Ron plays a very good slide solo at
2:11. Various percussion instruments can be heard, in particular congas
(0:44), a cabasa (3:09), and a cowbell (3:21), but we could perhaps be
forgiven for wondering what the point is of congas on a track of this type. It
is apparently Chuck Leavell on piano at 3:46, playing a boogie-woogie part
that could easily be attributed to Stu. Mick gives a good vocal performance,
and literally lets go in the coda. “It Must Be Hell” is not the worst track on
the album, but it is hard to avoid a comparison with the band’s glory years,
the period between Beggars Banquet and Exile on Main St. And all the
more so when one relistens to “Soul Survivor”…

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