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My Favourite Rolling Stones Album
on 15 December 2015
I don't understand why this album is so often critically panned. It is my favourite Stones album. Maybe this low-key record did not sound like a commercial blockbuster, or 'classic Stones' to some people.
To me it was one of the defining albums of 1980, although there are many contenders for that year. In the Heavy Metal / Hard Rock genre alone there were classics such as Judas Priest's 'British Steel', Motorhead's 'Ace Of Spades', AC/DC's 'Back In Black', Saxon's 'Wheels Of Steel', Black Sabbath's 'Heaven & Hell', Sammy Hagar's 'Danger Zone' or 'Permanent Waves' by Rush. Closer to the Rock or Pop world, there was 'Flesh & Blood' by Roxy Music, 'Against The Wind' by Bob Seger, 'Hold Out' by Jackson Browne, 'McCartney 2' by Paul McCartney, 'Metamatic' by John Foxx, '17 Seconds' by The Cure, 'Vienna' by Ultravox, 'Scary Monsters' by David Bowie, 'Zenyetta Mondatta' by The Police, or Billy Joel's 'Glass Houses'. I could go on...and on.
I bought 'Emotional Rescue' on vinyl on the strength of the title track, which was a hit single in July 1980. It sounded unusual, with Mick's falsetto vocal, and a great bass sound. After hearing the bluesy 'Down In The Hole' as well, playing in a Record Shop, I was hooked. 'She's So Cold' later became a (minor) hit single'. I now have 3 different CD versions- the original non-remastered CD, the 1996 Bob Ludwig remaster, and the current 2009 remaster, which sounds quite loud, almost artificially so.
The album has a loose feel. Charlie Watts's drums, and Bill Wyman's bass sound particularly good. The opening number 'Dance Pt 1' sounds sloppy, even unfinished, with Mick saying what sounds like "Keith...wotcha, wotcha doin' ?" and then whistling !
There are pleasing performances of rockers and slower numbers on the record, which all add up to a satisfying listen. The highlights for me are the reggae-ish 'Send It To Me', 'Let Me Go', and 'All About You' where Keith's ragged vocals are not without charm.