The Rolling Stones - Tattoo You
In truth I find this album to mark another high point in the Stones career. They had weathered the onslaught of punk and come out the other side with their reputation intact, if not enhanced. The punks had written off the Stones as the archetypal rock dinosaurs but the band had endured and had come through more personal and professional crises than any other band. After almost 20 years in the business, they showed they could still out rock anyone else and as punk entered its death throes, the reviled Stones were still standing and still rocking.
The vinyl version is intentionally divided (by the fact it has two sides - doh!) into the fast and the slow side and this division works reasonably well. As usual with Stones albums, the opener is a belter, and "Start Me Up" is deservedly one of the Stones' classics. This fact was not lost on the band themselves and it was this track which shortly afterwards replaced "Under My Thumb" as the band's live act opener. "Slave" and "Black Limousine" are also good solid rock and roll fare of the type you have come to expect from the Stones. What is unusual is that they did not continue with this style for the second side.
In comparison, side two could be seen as something of a disappointment. Thankfully, it doesn't go that way. "No Use in Crying" and the excellent "Waiting on a Friend" are the highlights here. However, the rest of the album, approximately half of it, is standard relatively unmemorable stuff and for that it seems to detract from the album. But it was always going to be a difficult task and from hereon in it got more so. How does a band satisfy its long-standing fans as well as those who have recently come to the band and are perhaps not as familiar with the older material? Comparison with the Beatles at this point seem irrelevant. The Beatles never had to face that dilemma - the Stones did. And with this album they struck a medium which they have maintained ever since.
Here was the root cause of the apparent decline of the Stones in later years. They put just too many unmemorable tracks on their albums, sandwiched in between a few stormers which, by and large, could be as memorable as their much higher-rated songs of earlier years. Nonetheless, there is enough good material here though to make this album a worthwhile listen and for that (together with the brilliance of the opening track) it deserves its rating. The last good release by the Rolling Stones? Not exactly.
If anything, this album marks the point at which the Stones, for better or for worse, began to obtain a measure of respectability which had long been granted to their contemporaries. It marks the point at which the Rolling Stones ceased to be defined by the label of rock band and started down the path to becoming a national institution. Those who decry this album are really missing the point.
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