Thursday, November 24, 1983

Nov. 24, 1933: Bessie Smith's final recording session

First posted March 6, 2011. Last updated September 8, 2018.

The Essential

Bessie Smith

Released: Sept. 23, 1997

Years Covered: Feb. 15, 1923 to Nov. 24, 1933


Sales (in millions):
US: --
UK: --
IFPI: --
World (estimated): --


Peak:
US: --
UK: --
Canada: --
Australia: --

Quotable: “If you’ve never experienced the genius of Bessie Smith, pick this one up and prepare yourself to be devastated.” – Cub Koda, All Music Guide


Genre: blues


Album Tracks – Disc 1:

  1. Aggravatin’ Papa (8/25/23, #12 US)
  2. Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home (9/1/23, #6 US)
  3. ‘Tain’t Nobody’s Bizness if I Do (10/20/23, #9 US)
  4. Jail-House Blues (1923)
  5. Graveyard Dream Blues (1923)
  6. Ticket Agent, Ease Your Window Down (1924)
  7. Boweavil Blues (1924)
  8. Weeping Willow Blues (1924)
  9. Dying Gambler’s Blues (1924)
  10. St. Louis Blues (6/13/25, #3 US)
  11. You’ve Been a Good Ole Wagon (1925)
  12. Cake Walkin’ Babies from Home (1925)
  13. Careless Love Blues (10/31/25, #5 US)
  14. I Ain’t Goin’ to Play Second Fiddle (11/28/25, #8 US)
  15. At the Christmas Ball (1925)
  16. Jazzbo Brown from Memphis Town (1926)
  17. Backwater Blues (1927)
  18. After You’ve Gone (8/6/27, #7 US)

Album Tracks – Disc 2:

  1. Alexander’s Ragtime Band (10/15/27, #17 US)
  2. There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Time Tonight (1927)
  3. Trombone Cholly (1927)
  4. Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair (1927)
  5. A Good Man Is Hard to Find (recorded 1927, charted 3/10/28, #13 US)
  6. Dyin’ by the Hour (1927)
  7. Me and My Gin (1928)
  8. Kitchen Man (1929)
  9. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out (8/31/29, #15 US)
  10. On Revival Day (A Rhythmic Spiritual) (1930)
  11. Moan, You Moaners (1930)
  12. Black Mountain Blues (1930)
  13. Shipwreck Blues (1931)
  14. Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl (1931)
  15. Do Your Duty (1933)
  16. Gimme a Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer (1933)
  17. Take Me for a Buggy Ride (1933)
  18. Down in the Dumps (1933)

Singles/Hit Songs:

Click here for the chart codes for singles/hit songs.

Review:

“Bessie Smith was crowned the Empress of the Blues, and, while this moniker was well deserved, she was much more. A prolific recording artist, Smith was quite an eclectic performer. In fact, she may have been one of the first true crossover artists.” LG “Bessie could sing it all, from the lowdown moan of St. Louis Blues and Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out to her torch treatment of the jazz standard After You’ve Gone to the downright salaciousness of Need a Little Sugar in My BowlCK or other “suggestive material [such] as Kitchen Man.” LG She “could breathe new life into a pop chestnut like Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” LG

The collection works its way through Smith’s entire career, from her very first recording session on February 15, 1923 through her final session on November 24, 1933. DA “This two-disc, 36-song set sweats it down to the bare essentials in quite an effective manner,” CK giving “the listener a good sampling of her wide repertoire.” LG “This is the perfect entry-level set.” CK

“Utilizing the latest in remastering technology, these recordings have never sounded quite this clear and full, and the selection – collecting her best-known sides and collaborations with jazz giants like Louis Armstrong” CK – ‘St. Louis Blues’…features [his] horn work” LG – Coleman Hawkins, and Benny Goodman – is first-rate. If you’ve never experienced the genius of Bessie Smith, pick this one up and prepare yourself to be devastated.” CK “The title of this album says it all.” LG


Review Source(s):

Awards:


Related DMDB Link(s):


Saturday, November 12, 1983

Lionel Richie hit #1 with “All Night Long”

First posted 11/26/2020.

All Night Long (All Night)

Lionel Richie

Writer(s): Lionel Richie (see lyrics here)


Released: August 31, 1983


First Charted: September 16, 1983


Peak: 14 US, 13 CB, 13 RR, 14 AC, 17 RB, 2 UK, 13 CN, 16 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.6 UK, 1.6 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 80.43 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

After a hit-laden career with the Commodores and the monstrous success of “Endless Love,” his #1 duet with Diana Ross, Lionel Richie released his first solo album in 1982. The album generated three top 10 hits, including the #1 song “Truly,” but it was merely a precursor to the even bigger smash that was to come with his 1983 album, Can’t Slow Down.

That album produced five top-10 hits, the biggest of which was the #1 lead single “All Night Long (All Night).” The song “was a joyous celebration with Caribbean influences and lots of partying.” BR1 The multi-cultural vibe for the song was inspired by his vacations in the Caribbean and his observation of calypso dancing. SF As he told Motown when he wanted to release the song, “This is the rhythm that the whole world dances to on vacation.” SF

Regarding the lyrics “Tom bo li de say de moi ya” and “jambo jumbo,” Richie said he tried to get his wife’s Jamaican gynecologist to help with pronunciations. BR1 He also called a friend at the United Nations for some African phrases, but was told there were 101 African dialects and could take a few weeks just to come up with a few words. In the end, Richie said the words were gibberish, NYP a “wonderful joke,” written when he ran out of time to hire a translator to come up with the foreign-language lyrics he wanted for the song. WK

In early 1984, Richie performed the song for 2.6 billion people in 120 countries at the closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Los Angeles with 200 breakdancers and athletes from all over the world. BR1


Resources and Related Links:

A Kenny Rogers Retrospective

First posted 12/5/2020.

A Retrospective: 1967-1983

Kenny Rogers

A Brief History: Country singer Kenny Rogers was born on August 21, 1938 in Houston, Texas. He died on March 20, 2020 at age 81. He was one of the best-selling artists of all time with more than 100 million records sold worldwide. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013, but was one of music’s most successful crossover artists, finding huge success on the country, pop, and adult contemporary charts in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

He started his career in the late ‘50s with the Scholars, then worked with jazz singer Bobby Doyle, and was part of the folk ensemble the New Christy Minstrels from 1966-1967. He and several members of the latter group formed the First Edition in 1967, with whom Rogers recorded through 1976 before embarking on a solo career.


The Studio Albums (with the First Edition):
  • The First Edition (1967)
  • 1969 (1969)
  • Ruby Don’t Take Your Love to Town (1969)
  • Something’s Burning (1970)
  • Backroads (1972)


The Studio Albums (solo):
  • Love Lifted Me (1976)
  • Kenny Rogers (1977)
  • Daytime Friends (1977)
  • Every Time Two Fools Collide (with Dottie West, 1978)
  • Love or Something Like It (1978)
  • The Gambler (1978)
  • Classics (with Dottie West, 1979)
  • Kenny (1979)
  • Gideon (1980)
  • Share Your Love (1981)
  • Love Will Turn You Around (1982)
  • We’ve Got Tonight (1983)


Compilations:

The above compilations are spotlighted on this page. The snapshots of the studio albums will indicate all songs featured on any of these compilations, noted with the codes above. Appearing after song titles are the songwriters in italicized parentheses, running times in brackets, and when relevant, the date the song was released as a single and its peaks on various charts. Click for codes to singles charts.


The First Edition (1967):

  • Just Dropped in to See What Condition My Condition Was In (Mickey Newbury) [3:24] (2/3/68, 5 US, 5 CB, 3 HR)


1969 (1969):

  • But You Know I Love You (Mike Settle) [3:16] (1/11/69, 19 US, 15 CN, 17 HR, 18 AC) TG
  • Ruby Don’t Take Your Love to Town (Mel Tillis) [2:53] (6/7/69, 6 US, 7 CN, 9 HR, 6 AC, 39 CW, 2 UK) TG, 80, 20


Ruby Don’t Take Your Love to Town (1969):

  • Reuben James (Barry Etris, Alex Harvey) [2:41] (9/20/69, 26 US, 14 CB, 17 HR, 29 AC, 46 CW) TG, 80, 20


Something’s Burning (1970):

  • Something’s Burning (Mac Davis) [4:19] (2/7/70, 11 US, 5 CB, 7 HR, 8 UK) TG, 20


Backroads (1972):

  • Today I Started Loving You Again (Merle Haggard, Bonnie Owens) [3:10] (7/14/73, 69 CW) TG


Love Lifted Me (1976):

  • Love Lifted Me (Preston Ross, Howard Smith) [3:49] (12/13/75, 97 US, 19 CW, 99 AU) TG, 20
  • While the Feeling’s Good (Roger Bowling, Freddie Hart) [4:02] TG


Kenny Rogers (1977):

  • Lucille (Roger Bowling, Hal Bynum) [3:41] (1/29/77, 5 US, 6 CB, 7 HR, 12 RR, 10 AC, 12CW, 11 UK, 111 CN, 7 AU, sales: 1 million, airplay: 2 million) TG, 80, 20


Daytime Friends (1977):

  • Daytime Friends (Ben Peters) [3:14] (7/30/77, 28 US, 28 CB, 36 HR, 13 AC, 11 CW, 39 UK, 21 CN, 69 AU) TG, 20

Ten Years of Gold

Kenny Rogers


Released: January 1978


Recorded: 1967-1977


Charted: February 4, 1978


Peak: 33 US, 12 CW, -- UK, 23 CN, 68 AU


Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, -- UK, 5.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: country


Tracks: (1) Ruby Don’t Take Your Love to Town (2) Reuben James (3) But You Know I Love You (4) Something’s Burning (5) Just Dropped in to See What Condition My Condition Was In (6) Lucille (7) Daytime Friends (8) While the Feeling’s Good (9) Love Lifted Me (10) Today I Started Loving You Again


Total Running Time: 34:29

Rating:

3.857 out of 5.00 (average of 11 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About Ten Years of Gold:

The first five cuts on the album were actually re-recordings of songs Rogers originally did with the group the First Edition. The chart dates and figures, however, are for the original releases. Today I Started Loving You Again is the only original First Edition song on the album. Four of the songs (Lucille, Daytime Friends, While the Feeling’s Good, and Love Lifted Me) are the original solo hits from Rogers in 1976 and 1977.


Every Time Two Fools Collide (with Dottie West, 1978):

  • Every Time Two Fools Collide (with Dottie West) (John Dyes, Jeffrey M. Tweel) [3:00] (2/18/78, 44 AC, 12 CW) 80


Love or Something Like It (1978):

  • Love or Something Like It (Steve Gassmeyer, Rogers) [2:51] (6/3/78, 32 US, 38 CB, 41 HR, 12 AC, 11 CW, 36 CN) 20


The Gambler (1978):

  • The Gambler (Don Schlitz) [3:32] (10/28/78, 16 US, 13 CB, 18 HR, 21 RR, 3 AC, 13 CW, 22 UK, 8 CN, 25 AU) 80, 20
  • She Believes in Me (Steve Gibb) [4:11] (3/31/79, 5 US, 7 CB, 4 HR, 11 RR, 12 AC, 12 CW, 42 UK, 8 CN, 34 AU, sales: 1 million) 80, 20


Classics (with Dottie West, 1979):

  • Til I Can Make It on My Own (with Dottie West) (George Richey, Billy Sherrill, Tammy Wynette) [3:19] (7/7/79, 3 CW) 20


Kenny (1979):

  • You Decorated My Life (Debbie Hupp, Bob Morrison) [3:37] (9/8/79, 7 US, 7 CB, 5 HR, 3 RR, 2 AC, 12 CW, 12 CN, 61 AU) 80, 20
  • Coward of the County (Roger Bowling, Billy Edd Wheeler) [4:18] (11/17/79, 3 US, 11 CB, 11 HR, 6 RR, 5 AC, 13 CW, 12 UK, 13 CN, 6 AU, sales: 1 million, airplay: 2 million) 80, 20


Gideon (1980):

  • Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer (with Kim Carnes) (Carnes, Dave Ellingson) [3:39] (3/21/80, 4 US, 4 CB, 4 HR, 2 RR, 2 AC, 3 CW, 3 CN, 38 AU) 80, 20
  • You Were a Good Friend (Kim Carnes, Dave Ellingson) [3:54] (11/19/83, 20 CW) 20

Greatest Hits

Kenny Rogers


Released: September 23, 1980


Recorded: 1977-1980


Peak: 12 US, 111 CW, 40 UK, 3 CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): 12.0 US, -- UK, 15.6 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: country


Tracks: (1) The Gambler (2) Lady (3) Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer (with Kim Carnes) (4) Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town (5) She Believes in Me (6) Coward of the County (7) Lucille (8) You Decorated My Life (9) Reuben James (10) Love the World Away (11) Every Time Two Fools Collide (with Dottie West) (12) Long Arm of the Law


Total Running Time: 42:35

Rating:

4.308 out of 5.00 (average of 12 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About Greatest Hits:

This 12-track compilation is Rogers’ best-seller, moving more than 12 million copies in the U.S. It covers just three years of his career, but they were the years when he established himself as one of the most dominant crossover artists ever by regularly charting on the country (seven #1’s), pop (seven top 10’s, including a #1), and adult contemporary charts (nine top 10’s, including two #1’s).

Three songs (Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town, Reuben James, Lucille) overlap with Ten Years of Gold. Of the other nine, two are brand new (Lady, Long Arm of the Law). The collection also features Love the World Away, which was on the Urban Cowboy soundtrack, but hadn’t been featured on a Rogers’ album.


Tracks Not on Previously Noted Albums:

  • Love the World Away (Bob Morrison, J. Wilson) [3:11] (6/13/80, 14 US, 17 CB, 8 HR, 15 RR, 8 AC, 4 CW, 25 CN) 80
  • Lady (Lionel Richie) [3:54] (9/26/80, 16 US, 14 CB, 15 HR, 15 RR, 14 AC, 11 CW, 12 UK, 2 CN, 16 AU, sales: 16 million, airplay: 2 million) 80, 20
  • Long Arm of the Law (Roger Bowling, Billy Edd Wheeler) [4:17] () 80


Share Your Love (1981):

  • I Don’t Need You (Rick Christian) [3:27] (6/5/81, 3 US, 5 CB, 5 HR, 3 RR, 16 AC, 12 CW, 2 CN, 64 AU, airplay: 2 million) 20
  • Through the Years (Steve Dorf, Marty Panzer) [4:21] (12/26/81, 13 US, 12 CB, 10 HR, 5 RR, 12 AC, 5 CW, 92 AU) 20


Love Will Turn You Around (1982):

  • Love Will Turn You Around (David Malloy, Rogers, Thom Schuyler, Even Stevens) [3:40] (7/3/82, 13 US, 12 CB, 10 RR, 12 AC, 11 CW, 12 CN, 96 AU) 20


We’ve Got Tonight (1983):

  • We’ve Got Tonight (with Sheena Easton) (Bob Seger) [3:51] (1/21/83, 6 US, 10 CB, 10 RR, 2 AC, 11 CW, 28 UK, 4 CN, 11 AU) 20
  • Scarlet Fever (Mike Dekle) [3:57] (7/30/83, 94 US, 5 CW) 20

20 Greatest Hits

Kenny Rogers


Recorded: 1969-1983


Charted: November 12, 1983


Peak: 22 US, 16 CW, -- UK, 29 CN, 2 AU


Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, -- UK, 5.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: country


Tracks: (1) Lucille (2) Lady (3) Love Lifted Me (4) We’ve Got Tonight (with Sheena Easton) (5) Scarlet Fever (6) Love or Something Like It (7) She Believes in Me (8) Ruby Don’t Take Your Love to Town (9) Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer (with Kim Carnes) (10) You Were a Good Friend (11) The Gambler (12) Through the Years (13) Daytime Friends (14) You Decorated My Life (15) Til I Can Make It on My Own (with Dottie West) (16) Reuben James (17) Coward of the County (18) I Don’t Need You (19) Something’s Burning (20) Love Will Turn You Around


Total Running Time: 72:51

Rating:

4.236 out of 5.00 (average of 11 ratings)

About 20 Greatest Hits:

This retrospective of Rogers’ career from 1969 to 1983 offers a more complete picture than either of its predecessors. Six of the songs from Ten Years of Gold show up here. Nine of the songs from Greatest Hits are featured, with three of those also being on Ten Years of Gold. That leaves eight more cuts, of which three are from the eras already covered by the first two compilations. That means this set only adds five songs from 1981 to 1983, including I Don’t Need You, Through the Years, Love Will Turn You Around, and We’ve Got Tonight.


Resources and Related Links:

Monday, November 7, 1983

Yes released 90125

90125

Yes


Released: November 7, 1983


Peak: 5 US, 16 UK, 3 CN, 27 AU


Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.1 UK, 3.88 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: progressive rock


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Owner of a Lonely Heart (Rabin, Anderson, Squire, Trevor Horn) [4:27] (11/5/83, 1 US, 1 AR, 28 UK, 2 AU)
  2. Hold On (Rabin, Anderson, Squire) [5:18] (3/17/84, 27 AR)
  3. It Can Happen (Squire, Anderson, Rabin) [5:25] (12/3/83, 51 US, 5 AR)
  4. Changes (Rabin, Anderson, White) [6:16]
  5. Cinema (instrumental) (Squire, Rabin, White, Kaye) [2:07]
  6. Leave It (Squire, Rabin, Horn) [4:10] (2/11/84, 24 US, 3 AR, 56 UK)
  7. Our Song (Anderson, Squire, Rabin, White) [4:13] (11/12/83, 32 AR)
  8. City of Love (Rabin, Anderson, Squire, Kaye, White) [4:46]
  9. Hearts (Anderson, Squire, Rabin, White, Kaye) [7:36]


Total Running Time: 44:49


The Players:

  • Jon Anderson (vocals)
  • Trevor Rabin (guitar, keyboards)
  • Chris Squire (bass)
  • Alan White (drums, percussion)
  • Tony Kaye (keyboards)

Rating:

3.938 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“A stunning self-reinvention by a band that many had given up for dead, 90125 is the album that introduced a whole new generation of listeners to Yes.” PC The album featured longtime members Chris Squire on bass and Alan White on drums as well as the return of vocalist John Anderson (after sitting out the 1980 Drama album) and “the first time in twelve years that original keyboardist Tony Kaye had appeared with the group.” WK

The 11th album by Yes was a surprise since the band had officially called it quits after 1980’s Drama. Anderson, the only singer the group had ever known, left in the early making of that album, as had Rick Wakeman, who’d been the keyboardist for most of the band’s classic ‘70s albums. In their place came singer Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes of the Buggles (“Video Killed the Radio Star”). After that short-lived lineup, Squire and White worked on the aborted XYZ project with Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant and released a single as a duo in 1981.

Squire and White then started working with South African guitarist Trevor Rabin. “There had been various attempts to place Rabin in a band, including a proposed quartet with Rick Wakeman, John Wetton and Carl Palmer in 1980 and a proposed trio with Keith Emerson and Jack Bruce. Rabin tried out in Asia, alongside Wetton, Palmer and former Yes members Steve Howe and Geoff Downes.” WK

The new trio decided they needed a keyboardist and Squire suggested Kaye. They called themselves “Cinema” and started recording their anticipated debut album in early 1983. The material consisted mostly of music Rabin had intended for a solo album produced by Horn. WK Horn brought a slick production while Rabin offered a “distinctly ‘80s guitar sound.” PC

Squire played some of the group’s demos for Jon Anderson, who then came on board. At this point, they revived the Yes name. “Rabin was dubious at first, not wanting to be perceived as Steve Howe’s replacement, but rather the lead guitarist for a new group. However, he quickly changed his mind once Anderson brought in some new lyrics and put his distinctive vocals on the existing music tracks.” WK

The album, which was released in the autumn of 1983, was “simply titled after its Atco Records catalogue number (for example, 7-90125-1 for the LP).” WK It “launched Yes to the MTV age and to a whole new breed of fans.” WK Songs like “Changes marked the band’s definitive break with its art rock roots.” PC The new musical direction was “was catchy, contemporary and well liked by reviewers and their new fans (many of whom had little clue of the band’s previous incarnation). The lead single, Owner of a Lonely Heart, became the band’s first (and only) US #1 hit” WK “and its orchestral break has been relentlessly sampled by rappers ever since.” PC

“The vocal harmonies of Leave It and the beautifully sprawling Hearts are additional high points, but there’s nary a duff track on the album.” PC

“The album’s logo was created and designed by Garry Mouat at Assorted Images on an Apple IIe computer, which would be used on Yes’ next studio album Big Generator as well.” WK


Notes: Trevor Rabin released an album in 2003 called 90124 which was comprised of demos from the 90125 sessions.

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 6/7/2011; updated 7/25/2021.

The Rolling Stones’ Undercover released

The Rolling Stones

Undercover


Released: November 7, 1983


Peak: 4 US, 3 UK, 13 CN, 3 AU


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.1 UK, 3.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic rock


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Undercover of the Night [4:31] (11/1/83, 9 US, 12 CB, 6 RR, 2 AR, 11 UK, 14 CN, 27 AU)
  2. She Was Hot [4:40] (11/19/83, 44 US, 52 CB, 4 AR, 42 UK, 60 AU)
  3. Tie You Up (The Pain of Love) [4:12]
  4. Wanna Hold You [3:12]
  5. Feel on Baby [5:03]
  6. Too Much Blood [5:46] (12/17/83, 38 AR)
  7. Pretty Beat Up (Jagger/ Richards/ Wood) [4:03]
  8. Too Tough [3:46] (11/19/83, 14 AR)
  9. All the Way Down [3:40]
  10. It Must Be Hell [5:03]

Songs written by Jagger/ Richards unless indicated otherwise.


Total Running Time: 43:56


The Players:

  • Mick Jagger (vocals, guitar, percussion)
  • Keith Richards (guitar, vocals, bass)
  • Ronnie Wood (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Bill Wyman (bass, guitar, synthesizer, percussion)
  • Charlie Watts (drums)

Rating:

3.134 out of 5.00 (average of 21 ratings)


Quotable: “Rock & roll without apologies” – Kurt Loder, Rolling Stone

About the Album:

“By now, the Rolling Stones have assumed something of the status of the blues in popular music – a vital force beyond time and fashion. Undercover…reassembles…familiar elements into exciting new forms…Should future generations wonder why the Stones endured so long at the very top of their field, this record offers just about every explanation. Here we have the world’s greatest rock & roll rhythm section putting out at maximum power; the reeling, roller-derby guitars at full roar; riffs that stick in the viscera, songs that seize the hips and even the heart; a singer who sounds serious again.” RS

“Although the hard-rock numbers that make up the bulk of the record have the Rolling Stones’ stamp all over them, they are also distinguished by a heightened creative freshness that recalls their song-rich 1967 LP Between the Buttons…The raw vitality of the performances is matched by the thorniness of the lyrics, which glimmer with all the usual veiled allusions and inscrutable ambiguities.” RS

The album “is a weird, wild mix of hard rock, new wave pop, …dub,” AMG and “freaky reggae and soul.” RS “With Afro-Cuban percussion and dub textures scattered throughout, Undercover sounds like a soundtrack to a bloody Caribbean coup d’etat.” RS

“Even with all the careening musical eclecticism, what distinguishes Undercover is its bleak, nihilistic attitude – it’s teeming with sickness, with violence, kinky sex and loathing dripping from almost every song.” AMG It makes for “a darkness unfelt on a Stones album since Altamont made them want to leave such devilish business behind.” RS

“Undercover of the Night”
With its “viciously dubbed-out guitars,” RS “the dub sensibility crops up most strikingly on” RS Undercover of the Night. The song “exhibits a sense of political scorn that seems fueled by more genuine disgust than the Stones have spewed up in years. Rich in repugnant detail, …[it] chronicles current Latin American political agonies, and its music, resounding with coproducer Chris Kimsey’s sirenlike dub echoes, slams the message home with inarguable power.” RS It “slams with echoing guitars and rubbery bass lines, as Jagger gives a feverish litany of sex, corruption and suicide. It set the tone for the rest of the album.” AMG

“She Was Hot”
“The sentimentally salacious She Was HotRS is “a lustful rocker that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Some Girls.” RS “The runaway nymphomaniac” AMG “at the center of ‘She Was Hot’ turns out to have been more than just a great lay – the simple sincerity of the singer’s ‘I hope we meet again’ adds a sudden emotional resonance to what at first appears an empty-headed sex anthem.” RS

“Too Much Blood”
“The flamboyantly grisly Too Much BloodRS may revel a bit too much in “ridiculous slasher imagery,” AMG but it also “churn[s] up a marvelous, murky funk” RS courtesy of the former Sugar Hill Records’ horn section. It is “a rough and rambling rap tune that shows they’ve been listening to more than the occasional Grand Master Flash twelve-inch.” RS The song also features “the rampant clatter of Moroccan percussionists Moustapha Cisse and Brahms Condoul, plus reggae stalwart Sly Dunbar on electronic drums…And when David Sanborn comes screaming up on solo sax and Jagger rides in on a descending riff, singing. ‘I wanna dance, I wanna sing, I wanna bust up everything,’ the track transcends MTV-style racial considerations and emerges as a colorblind dance-floor hit.” RS

“Feel on Baby”
“There is a dark Jamaican dub groove running through Feel on Baby, a somewhat poignant lament,” RS which features “the machine-gun rattle of Linndrums.” AMG That song and “Jagger’s reliance on sado-masochism as a central lyrical theme… add to the notion that the Stones were reflecting a world gone wrong back upon its audience.” RS

“Tie You Up” and “Pretty Beat Up”
Tie You Up and Pretty Beat Up…[are] the most obvious examples.” AMG “The title of the sinuously slippery ‘Pretty Beat Up’ refers not to the song’s female subject but to the singer’s condition since she left him.” RS “When Jagger sings in ‘Tie You Up (The Pain of Love)’ that ‘You get a rise from it / Feel the hot come dripping on your thighs from it,’ and that ‘Women will die for it,’ you might conclude that he's just being provocative (or, alternatively, that he’s still the pathetic sexist asshole you always figured him for). But the song isn’t simply about male domination of women; it’s about the omnisexual oppressiveness of romantic obsession.” RS

“All the Way Down”
“In between the shout-along choruses of All the Way Down, where Jagger looks back on his beginnings and says, ‘I was king. Mr. Cool, just a snotty little fool’ – and then slyly adds, ‘Like kids are now’ – he sounds more self-aware than his detractors have ever given him credit for being.” RS

“Too Tough”
“There is a moment early on in” RS in “the indomitable self-assertion of Too ToughRS “that sums up all of the Stones’ extraordinary powers. With the guitars locked into a headlong riff and Mick Jagger hoarsely berating the woman who ‘screwed me down with kindness’ and ‘suffocating love,’ the track is already off to a hot start; but then Charlie Watts comes barreling in on tom-toms and boots the tune onto a whole new level of gut-punching brilliance. That the Stones are still capable of such exhilarating energy is cause enough for wondrous comment; that they are able to sustain such musical force over the course of an entire LP is rather astonishing.” RS

“Wanna Hold You”
Only “Keith Richards’ unadorned declaration of love and hope, Wanna Hold YouRS “offers a reprieve from the carnage, and its relentless bloodletting makes the album a singularly fascinating listen. For some observers, that mixture was nearly too difficult to stomach, but for others, it's a fascinating record, particularly since much of its nastiness feels as if the Stones, and Jagger and Richards in particular, are running out of patience with each other.” AMG

Conclusion
“If the album lacks the epochal impact of, say, Sticky Fingers, then perhaps it’s because the mythic years of pop are past – by now, even the Stones have long since bade them goodbye. But Undercover seems to be more felicitously concentrated than Exile on Main Street, and while it may lack that album’s dark power and desperate atmosphere, it does deliver nonstop, unabashed rock & roll crafted to the highest standards in the business.” RS Undercover is rock & roll without apologies.” RS

Resources and Related Links:


Other Related DMDB Pages:


First posted 3/23/2008; last updated 10/24/2021.