Released: August 30, 1981
Peak: 19 US, 2 UK, 17 CN, 111 AU
Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 0.1 UK, 8.0 world (includes US and UK)
Genre: classic rock
Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Songs written by Jagger/ Richards unless indicated otherwise.
Total Running Time: 44:19
Check out Dave’s Music Database podcast: The Rolling Stones’ Tattoo You: Celebrating the 40th Anniversary. It premieres October 26, 2021 at 7pm CST. Tune in every Tuesday at 7pm for a new episode based on the lists at Dave’s Music Database.
3.921 out of 5.00 (average of 23 ratings)
Quotable: “The band’s last great album.” – Amazon.com review by Steve Knopper
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
For a band who’d been around nearly two decades, this shouldn’t have ranked amongst the most celebrated albums of their career. This was their 16th British studio album and 18th in the United States. The Rolling Stones had topped the album chart in the U.S. eight times previously, but this one – their ninth trip to the top – proved the most successful with nine weeks at the pinnacle. It was second only to 1978’s Some Girls in terms of worldwide sales for their studio albums.
Return to Glory
“Much of the last decade consisted of…camouflage for an essential loss of nerve, an unwillingness to be seen unguarded for the length of an LP, or even a tune…Just when we might finally have lost patience, the new record dances (not prances), rocks (not jives) onto the scene, and the Rolling Stones are back again.” RS
In The New York Times, Robert Palmer wrote that “remarkably, Tattoo You is something special...None of [the tracks] are Chuck Berry retreads, none of them are disco, and none of them are reggae – they are all rock-and-roll, with more than a hint of the soul and blues influences that were so important in the band's early work...The new album’s lyrics are also a surprise. The Stones seem to have dropped the studied decadence that was their most characteristic pose throughout the ‘70s. The songs on Tattoo You seem to be by and about real people rather than larger-than-life caricatures.” WK
Raiding the Vaults
The material came together because Chris Kimsey, the album’s associate producer, spent three months sifting through the vaults. He told the band, “Hey, look guys, you’ve got all this great stuff sitting in the can…do something with it.” WK Most of the songs were instrumental backing tracks without vocals. The members came into the studio when they were available to polish up the tracks. WK
While the album is comprised primarily of leftovers “it never sounds that way.” AMG “This unity is partly the work of Bob Clearmountain, who mixed the finished tracks and gave them his characteristic vacuum-packed clarity (you could bounce a quarter off each of Watts’ rim shots). Mostly, though, it sounds like the Stones simply decided it was time to challenge themselves again.” RS
“Start Me Up”
The song began life “under the working title ‘Never Stop’…as a reggae-influenced number in 1978 during the Some Girls sessions.” WK it was recorded during sessions in Paris at Pathé Marconi, as was “Black Limousine.” WK
“Little T&A” and “Neighbours”
“Worried About You” and “No Use in Crying”
“Waiting on a Friend”
Notes: A 2021 40th anniversary deluxe edition included a disc of nine songs entitled Lost & Found – Rarities and a 1982 concert from Wembley Stadium.
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Other Related DMDB Pages:
First posted 3/23/2008; last updated 10/23/2021.