Picks and Pans Review: Tattoo You
The two sides of this LP are so strikingly different they might have been recorded by different bands. Side One is as strong as the Stones have sounded in years, a vigorous return to power rock after their disappointing Emotional Rescue in 1979. The first cut, Start Me Up, thunders in with Bill Wyman's bass rumbling like a runaway freight train. Hang Fire drives hard and clean. On Slave Jagger rasps and raps, Sonny Rollins plays a taunting sax solo and Keith Richards and Ron Wood trade guitar licks that could lacerate eardrums. Little T & A features, if that's the right word, Keith Richards doing a mostly one-note vocal that is one note too many for him to handle. Doesn't matter; the song packs a wallop. On Black Limousine, a throwback to the Stones' blues-based origins, Jagger honks away on his harmonica. Neighbours updates the Stones' current sound—an ultra-new-wavey raggedness. Then, unfortunately, we come to Side Two. All slower tunes, these five repetitive cuts reach a deep pit on Worried About You, where Jagger does his funky falsetto bit, the soul of Barry Gibb trapped inside the voice box of a Pip-less Gladys Knight. Raggedness is a virtue when the Stones rock; it turns grating at ballad speed. Fortunately, most listeners won't encounter the second side of this LP until the grooves on Side One wear all the way through.