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Rolling Stones, The - 1986 Dirty Work

ARTIST: Rolling Stones, The
ALBUM: Dirty Work
LABEL: Columbia/Rolling Stones
SERIAL: OC 40250 (LP), CK 40250 (CD)
YEAR: 1986
CD REISSUE: 1994, Virgin, 7243-8-39648-2-6 * 2009, UMe (Universal Music), B0012902-02


LINEUP: Mick Jagger - vocals * Keith Richards - guitar * Ronnie Wood - guitar * Bill Wyman - bass * Charlie Watts - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 One Hit (To The Body) * 02 Fight * 03 Harlem Shuffle * 04 Hold Back * 05 Too Rude * 06 Winning Ugly * 07 Back To Zero * 08 Dirty Work * 09 Had It With You * 10 Sleep Tonight * 11 Piano Instrumental


It's debatable if this album falls into any category related to AOR or melodic rock, but by Stones standards it definitely falls into the 80's trend of keyboard and melodic fascination in general. Their 1983 predecessor 'Undercover' had incorporated traces of a more modern production technique, but to be honest was fairly boring, with the ludicrous 'Too Much Blood' a good piece of comedy. Typically this adjustment didn't sit well with Richards, whose blues fetish was affected by Jagger's supposed insistence on this change. This led to a feud between the two which has been well documented and was exacerbated by this album, to the point they didn't even tour behind it. Watts had become a junkie which didn't help and Wyman was already 50 years old. Wood was just happy to be there, still the 'new' guy after a decade in the band. This is one of the bands better albums of their later years, far more consistent than what would follow anyway.

The Songs
The quotient of rockers is impressive, opening with 'One Hit (To the Body)' which naturally is instantly identifiable as traditional Stones, but has a melodic hard rock quality that fits the mid 80's and not their 70's work. 'Fight' improves on this, with Jagger's vocals more aggressive than usual, suiting this bold anthem. This song is long forgotten (like most of the album) but is worth a listen. 'Harlem Shuffle' was the albums lone hit, a lightweight piece of R&B that sounds like the inspiration for Bruce Willis' musical exploits a year later. 'Hold Back' is another upfront track, somehow sounding like a different band than the usual Stones fare. Definitely abrasive in a way the Stones hadn't been in a while. The first misfire is 'Too Rude', which is indeed that. Richards takes vocals on this dull reggae influenced track, not dissimilar to The Clash's more convincing attempts at the genre. Synths are heard blatantly on 'Winning Ugly' which is as close to AOR as these blokes ever got. This has an upbeat vibe, with the only drawback being the female backing vocals. It's hard to categorize this song, but it's undoubtedly a melodic winner. Going further down this road is 'Back To Zero', heavy on keyboards and bouncy rhythms that have a lot in common with the trends of 1986. This could be the Stones high-tech AOR masterpiece, which sounds far-fetched I realize! The title track is classic Stones rock and roll which would have delighted older fans and is complimented by the boogie of 'Had It With You', one of the most genuine statements heard from the band here. The riffs are on the cornball side and the harmonica use almost fooled me into thinking this was Huey Lewis. Sadly there's more room for Richards to make a mess of things, this time 'Sleep Tonight' the offender, a dull ballad with seemingly no purpose. It was the first time Richards had two lead vocals on a Stones album, which he would better in 1997 with three on 'Bridges To Babylon'.

In Summary
Without a tour behind it the album disappeared quickly, despite going platinum. It was later revealed Watts was so wasted that session drummers were used and that Jagger didn't record with the band. Richards disdain with Jagger lasted years, feeling old Mick had relegated the band behind his solo career. This is very much a product of its time, something the album cover makes clear and is basically a companion piece to 'Undercover', only much better. It might not appeal to everyone who frequents this site, but as far as the Stones go it has its merits and fits easily with other albums here.

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#1 | Eric on December 26 2012 03:25:12
A brave move including the Stones here but then again maybe not. I know a lot of fans of the band who hate this album because of the '80s AOR moves and production. Geez, how many AOR/ hard rock bands reviewed here have covered a Stones track? Me, I've never been enamored with them the way I have The Beatles or even The Who but I do like the early singles like 'Ruby Tuesday' and the 'Satanic Majesties' album.
#2 | gdazegod on December 26 2012 21:58:15
Brave move indeed. Not a fan, though will admit to watching a few of their 80's videos during the MTV era.

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