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Name: 2000 Man
Subject: Dirty Work, extended long winded version, part 1.
Date: Saturday, February 23, 2002
Time: 9:33:49 AM
Remote Address: 18.104.22.168
Message ID: 18274
Parent ID: 0
Thread ID: 18274
First off, I checked with the boss before I posted this gargantuan thing. If you don't care about Dirty work, stop reading now! If you're in a hurry, stop reading now! You've been warned!
Dirty Work. Two words that no one likes to see alone, but when placed together the connotations are terrible. Nobody wants to do the Dirty Work. The Dirty Work is beneath us because it is dirty and involves more work than it is worth. So why would the Stones give their 1986 album one strike before it ever got out of the wrapper and onto the turntables of the world? Maybe it was an in joke, that they thought was funny at the time, but in retrospect seems to be a very fitting title for one of the Stones’ least appreciated releases.
In 1983 the Stones released the adventurous and fairly successful (selling 2 million copies) Undercover. Some of the criticisms surrounding that release were that the Stones had strayed too far from their roots. Dirty Work had four solid, hard rocking songs in its bag of tricks, and an updated very danceable cover track. This time Keith Richards stepped out with lead vocals on two songs, a wonderful ballad, and the by now obligatory Stones reggae track. Three pop oriented dance tracks made up the rest of the album. The list of superstar guests (Bobby Womack, Don Covay, Jimmy Page, Tom Waits and more), coupled with arguably the hottest producer of the 80’s, Steve Lillywhite, Dirty Work should have been poised to be a huge success. Especially when considering that the Stones were in the “tour year” of a touring pattern that had begun in 1969.
Dirty Work came out to great reviews. “There hasn’t been so much static on a Stones album since the glory days of ‘Street Fighting Man’ and ‘Sympathy for The Devil,” said Keith Sharp, rating the album ‘Excellent (and that means exceptional).’ Other reviewers called it the “best since Exile on Main St.” and considering that a tour looked likely, especially with Dirty Work being their first release of their new 28 million dollar record deal with CBS, this should have been a high point in the Stones’ career. Instead, Dirty Work and the other activities the band members were involved in nearly ripped the Stones apart.
Prior to the Dirty Work sessions, the Stones were all involved in side projects. Keith was doing tributes and movies with his idols, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry as well as working with Tom Waits on his album, ‘Rain Dogs.’ Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts became active in the A.R.M.S. project, which was connected with the Faces Ronnie Lane, and raised money for Multiple Sclerosis, which afflicted Lane. Charlie and bill did a show at the Royal Albert Hall, which was released to raise money for A.R.M.S. and a short set of shows in the US for the charity as well. Wyman started his side project, Willie and the Poor Boys, which included an album and some shows, and Watts started his first jazz project, which would become Charlie’s main focus after the release of Dirty Work and the free time left since there was no tour. Ron Wood kept himself busy in much the same way he does today when the Stones aren’t working.
She’s The Boss
Mick Jagger was certainly the most ambitious about his projects outside the Stones prior to and after the release of Dirty Work. Mick recorded ‘Beast of Burden’ with Bette Midler, and ‘State of Shock’ with Michael Jackson. In the fall of 1984, Jagger started his solo album, pushing back the start of the new Stones album. The new album would be called ‘She’s The Boss,’ and it was a very ambitious project.
‘She’s The Boss’ had Mick recording his solo record, and then shooting a short film for promoting the record, which took five weeks. The film was shot by Julien Temple, who had produced videos for ‘Undercover,’ and besides Mick the film featured Jerry Hall, Dennis Hopper and Rae Dawn Chong. For whatever reason, the film yielded just two videos, and wasn’t released in its entirety until ‘She’s The Boss’ had long since fallen out of the charts. Mick used Bill Laswell and Nile Rodgers as producers for the record. ‘She’s The Boss’ went platinum, but didn’t yield any top ten singles in the US, and didn’t fare nearly as well in the UK. After such a major push by Mick to become a superstar outside of the Stones, the results were a bit disappointing.
Live Aid was the biggest rock concert for charity ever assembled. An amazing cast of rock’s superstars assembled on both sides of the Atlantic to perform an all day concert for famine relief. The show was broadcast on MTV to a worldwide audience. The Stones as a performing group were conspicuous in their absence, yet individually they were a large part of the show. Mick did a cover version of ‘Dancing In The Streets’ with David Bowie, and a video was made for the song, and premiered at Live Aid. Mick also appeared with Tina Turner at the show, while Keith and Ronnie played with Bob Dylan.
Perhaps the most damaging thing to the psyche of the Stones happened on December 12, 1985. Ian Stewart had a heart attack in his doctor’s waiting room and died. All five of the Stones attended Stu’s funeral. Dirty Work has a short snippet of Stu playing at the end of side two as a memorial from the Stones. If Stu’s impact on the band was hard to measure while he was alive, it would become obvious after he died just how much he helped hold the Stones together. The Stones would really miss his honesty and his ability to put things in perspective.
Dirty Work began recording in January of 1985, and it took the entire year to get the album finished. It took the first six months to record it, and the next six months to get it mixed. In contrast, ‘Undercover’ had only taken a few months to record and mix. The Stones were doing interviews while sessions were ongoing for ‘Dirty Work.’ Inevitably, a lot of the interviews dealt with in band fighting and touring. Since Steve Jordan and Anton Fig appeared on some songs, it was reported that Charlie was unhappy with the Stones and talking of leaving. Chris Welch asked Bill about the sessions, and Bill had some interesting comments. “We spent months in Paris making the new album. We messed around for weeks because Mick was still buggering around with his solo album instead of working with us. He would fly back to London in the middle of it which, I might add, is a thing that nobody else has ever done, because when it’s Stones work, everybody drops solo projects. It kinda caused a bit of resentment in the band. We thought he should have forgotten his solo album, which was already out and finished [ed. note: Mick rerecorded ‘Hard Woman’ with the Hooters to try and spur sales.]. He continued to work on that, which was disappointing. We thought he had his priorities wrong. His mind wasn’t there. It worked out in the end.”
Concerning Charlie, Bill said “Charlie cut his hand, opening a miniature bottle. We didn’t think he could drum for some weeks. All the frustrated drummers in the band thought, ‘Now’s my chance!’ and rushed to the drum kit. Mick would keep a rhythm going, and Simon Kirke played a bit. But nothing he did was used on the album.” When asked if Kirke might replace Charlie, Bill had this to say, “No. Simon has been coming along to Stones sessions as a mate for years. If you recall, Charlie came home from Paris because he damaged his hand and had to rest. When he got to the airport, the Press jumped on this absurd story that he’d had a huge row and walked out on the sessions and wasn’t going back. It had absolutely nothing to do with that.”
Keith and Mick’s rows in the press at this time were legendary, and they’re easy enough to find quotes from. I found things that other people were saying more interesting than their sniping. Mick talked with Bobby Womack about his new band during the ‘Dirty Work’ sessions and told Womack, “Man, I’ve got a band that’s better. They play TODAY’S sound.” More from Womack, “He (Jagger) would ask me, ‘What did he say? What was he doing?’ because they wasn’t talking. And I think Bill might have had intentions not to tour at the time. He came in and did his part. Charlie put his part there somewhere else. You can’t cut an album like that. Not and be a unit.” Certainly outtakes don’t bear Womack out. It does seem that Mick missed some sessions when looking at the outtakes, as there are a lot of songs that Keith sings on, like ‘Deep Love,’ You’re Too Much,’ Treat Me Like A Fool’ and others. Engineer Dave Jerden said, “There was a lot of jamming going on, and Mick would be there for the jamming. They were even doing some Beatles songs. They did ‘Please Please Me’ and a couple others. They would just jam on anything, old blues songs – ‘Spoonful,’ stuff like that.”
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