rolling stones tattoo you tops 1981Can You Hear the Music?


Rolling Stones songs: Tops
*Click for 

Don’t need no casting couch/ Or be a star in bed/ Never, never, never let success go to you pretty head…

Written by: Jagger/Richards
Recorded: Dynamic Sounds Studios, Kingston, Jamaica, Nov. 25-Dec. 21 1972; Village Recorders, Los Angeles, USA, Jan.13-15 1973; EMI Pathé Marconi Studios, Paris, France, Jan. 5-March 2 1978; June 10-Oct. 19 1979
Guest musicians: Nicky Hopkins (piano)
*Data taken from Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012

From the The Rolling Stones – All the Songs book:
The lyrics of “Tops” sound like a satire of the words a manager might
address to a young female singer or actress whose career he wants to take in
hand. In essence: I will take you to success, to the very top; I will make you
a star. There’s no need for acting school or the casting couch… These
words come across all the more convincingly as they are delivered by Mick
Jagger, who was extremely well versed in the cutthroat world of show

“Tops” is an extremely well-constructed, soulful rock ballad with touches of
Motown, above all in Mick Jagger’s highly successful combination of
falsetto with a deeper, richer voice. He gives an excellent performance that
endows the track with a somewhat unexpected depth. The initial takes date
from autumn 1972 and Dynamic Sounds Studios in Kingston, when Mick
Taylor was still a full member of the Rolling Stones. Although various
sources fail to credit him, it seems highly unlikely that his guitar part would
have been wiped when the song was reworked for Tattoo You. His very
lyrical style, with the left-hand vibrato that neither Keith nor Ronnie
possessed, can be identified in the subtle voicing of his chords and above all
in the solo at around 2:57, toward the end of the track. Mick Taylor is a
musician who contributed a huge amount to the group, and his departure is
definitely a cause for regret. Similarly, although he is not credited, Nicky
Hopkins, who possessed a distinctive, highly lyrical touch not unlike
Taylor’s, is almost certainly on the piano. As for the rhythm section, it has
to be said that Bill and Charlie are a major asset for the Stones, each of the
two developing a groove in his own unique way. Keith delivers a good
rhythm guitar part, always on the lookout for the ultimate riff, even in this
kind of ballad. Finally, maracas can also be heard, most probably played by
Jagger. After Kingston, the band reworked “Tops” in France in 1979, and
then in 1981, when Mick was given the task of redoing all the vocals
himself, before final mixing by Bob Clearmountain in New York. “Tops” is
one of the best things on Tattoo You, and despite predating it by more than
nine years, the song blends perfectly with the overall color and feel of the

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