Written by: Jagger/Richards Recorded: April 20-May 1993, Blue Wave Studios, Barbados
From Martin Elliott’s book THE ROLLING STONES COMPLETE RECORDING SESSIONS 1962-2012: Keith Richards’ boogie lament for Charlie Watts’ dress sense. You know it don’t hang right. A fun ad-lib on shirts and double-breasted suits. The title was jokingly suggested by Mick Jagger at the song’s end.
The Voodoo Lounge sessions are exceptionally well documented by a series of bootleg releases with professional packaging and sleeve notes. Both Mick Jagger and Keith Richards started writing new songs in April ’93 after the 1992 and 1993 releases of Richards’ Main Offender and Jagger’s Wandering Spirit albums, choosing Don Was as their co-producer for the forthcoming sessions. The Stones moved to Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin in November to start cutting Voodoo Lounge after practicing and recording at Ronnie Wood’s home, also in Ireland, in September.
Darryl Jones would replace Bill Wyman as the group’s regular bassist, though he wouldn’t be officially joining the band. The move was suggested by Charlie Watts. Don Was, known for his retro rock production sensibilities, is said to have pushed the band in a more traditional direction in an effort to mimic the stereotypical “Rolling Stones” sound. Although this strategy won over critics and the Stones’ rock-oriented fan base, Jagger in particular expressed some dissatisfaction with Was’s aesthetic, commenting in a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone magazine that “There were a lot of things that we wrote for Voodoo Lounge that Don steered us away from: groove songs, African influences and things like that. And he steered us very clear of all that. And I think it was a mistake!”.
The producer responded saying that he was not actually “anti-groove, just anti-groove without substance, in the context of this album. They had a number of great grooves. But it was like, ‘OK, what goes on top of it? Where does it go?’ I just felt that it’s not what people were looking for from the Stones. I was looking for a sign that they can get real serious about this, still play better than anybody and write better than anybody.” The result was a primarily classicist recording that drew inspiration from the blues, R&B and country that had influenced the Stones’ legendary late 1960s/early 1970s recordings. For the ensuing Bridges to Babylon album (1997), Jagger would insist on a more diverse, modern production cast. Still, Was continued to serve as the Stones’ producer.
The Rolling Stones finished recording Voodoo Lounge in Los Angeles during the first few months of 1994, and then they began rehearsing for the Voodoo Lounge Tour, which would launch in August. As for the album’s title, Keith Richards had adopted a stray cat in Barbados during the recording sessions, giving it the name “Voodoo” because the kitten had overcome all odds to survive. He also gave the house’s terrace the name “Voodoo Lounge”.