Dirty Work (1986)


 
1.One Hit (Too the Body) 2.Fight 3.Harlem Shuffle 4.Hold Back 5.Too Rude 6.Winning Ugly 7.Back to Zero 8.Dirty Work 9.Had it With You 10.Sleep Tonight 11.Piano Instrumental

 

It was bound to happen at some point. The Stones finally hit rock bottom. Looking at the internal struggles of the band, it's really not that big of a surprise. Mick and Keith had not been getting along since the Undercover album and Jagger was pulling the band, against Keith's wishes, to more contemporary pop sounding music. Looking at the pair's early solo albums, it's easier to see the conflict. Keith's albums tended to replicate the Stones' sound whereas Jagger even went as low as doing a duet of "Dancing in the Street" with David Bowie. (In all fairness, Jagger's later solo work was much better than his earlier material).

So after the disappointment of Undercover, the band fell deep into 1980's mode. Had any of these tunes been somewhat memorable or the Stones kept their authentic sound, this could have been more accessible. For the most part, they accomplish neither. This is definitely "Stones Light" with little of their crunchy riffs and rock/blues anthems. What can you say about an album where the most popular cut, Harlem Shuffle isn't even an original? How long ago do you have to go back in their history to find that again?

To give Keith Richards credit, he, in effect, saves the album with his two songs. Too Rude is a catchy reggae number and the closer, Sleep Tonight has him feature his uncharacteristically cool soft side. Mostly everything else is so poorly produced, that it's so easily forgettable. For example, take the song Fight. This song could have had enormous potential had it been recorded in a fashion similar to their traditional sound. But here it sounds, well, like one of the members doing a solo album - a few elements of familiarity, but enough detraction from sounding authentically good.

While we're complaining, I personally think Back to Zero is probably the worst song the band ever recorded. Well, like most people after hearing this record, I thought the band was done for good. Fortunately, that wasn't the case, and they still had a lot of great stuff yet to be shared. It would just take a bit longer than most would have liked.


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