Picks and Pans Review: Primitive Cool

updated 11/02/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/02/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

Mick Jagger

It may be, of course, that logic is the last thing most people want out of Mick Jagger. But this album—still rock 'n' roll, but with much more thoughtful lyrics than he's used to singing—makes perfect sense in the logical extension of his career away from the Rolling Stones. Jagger wrote all the songs, collaborating on three with Dave Stewart, and they provide wide latitude for his considerable talent for vocal histrionics. In Throwaway, for instance, he sings, "I'm so greasy. I'm so slick. I leave no traces/ I just get out quick." In the title song, the lyrics have children asking questions: "Did you walk cool in the '50s, Daddy?/ Was it all black and white?/ Did you play jazz all night?/ Was it really so wonderful?" Then there's the atmospheric opening of Peace for the Wicked: "No more sleaze ball, funky, low-down, skunky juke joints/ Where the drinks are knee deep on the floor/ And the clientele is posed and angry/ And all the pretty girls are whores." These are lyrics for Jagger to conjure with, and he speaks them as much as sings them. This is not Mick Jagger as Rex Harrison, now. The core of his band for the session—drummer Simon Phillips, bassist Doug Wimbish and guitarists Jeff Beck and G.E. Smith—knows where to find the tough, biting side of rock. Even the ballads have sting. Some of the rhymes are awful—"I'm incurably romantic/ If you leave me I'll go frantic"—and the relatively tame pace makes the physical limitations of Jagger's voice apparent. Such difficulties seem trivial, though, in the face of such a substantial record. Maybe there's such a thing as middle-aged rock 'n' roll after all. (Columbia)

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