Should've been called "Jagger Knee'd In The Nuts"
Coatesy | East Lansing, MI USA | 01/09/2010
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Dirty Work is easily the Stones weakest effort. I've pulled this record out about twice in the last twenty years. If you needed a two-word review it would be: Virtually unlistenable.
Released in 1986, Mick was about as interested in rock and roll as Charlie Watts looks on the album cover. The best thing about the record is Keith looking like he's kneeing Jagger in the nuts on the cover. The fact they released Harlem Truffle Shuffle as the single tells you all you need to know about the strength of the songs. The song is so limp, lame and sexless it feels like an out-take from a Wham record. Sorry for the insult to all you Andrew Ridgeley fans.
There's very little to recommend about this record. One Hit is a decent opener ruined by the dated "reverbed" drums and production. The title track has a nice solo by Ronnie (with Jimmy Page allegedly buried somewhere in the horrificly crappy mix) and Sleep Tonight is a typically good Keith ballad. It feels like his break-up song to Mick which adds some weight to it. And...that's about it. Oh, and Charlie was addicted to smack during the recording of this album. So, not so good times and a not so good record."
Come on! Give this a chance, now
Johnny Boy | Hockessin, DE | 08/02/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Never in the Rolling Stones catalogue has an album been more hated than 'Dirty Work.' In 1986, when the Stones released this, the band was at a real low point. Charlie Watts, normally the clean and non-rock and roll of the quintet, was in the midst of a major addiction to heroin, Keith Richards was infuriated at Mick Jagger for starting a solo career ('She's The Boss' was a huge seller in 1985), Ron Wood was also battling a major drug addiction and Bill Wyman was caught in the middle of a very dramatic time for the Stones.
So, in 1985, with the band literally on the verge of collapsing, the band went into the studios to record their first album for Columbia Records (Rolling Stones Records had signed a major partnership deal with label in 1984), titled 'Dirty Work.' The outtakes for this album are widely circulating in Stones bootleg communities, and if you listen to some of the outtakes, you can clearly hear the band in the middle of a "midlife crisis" (as I like to call it). However, despite this and all of the circumstances surrounding it, the boys managed to turn in a solid album.
The group worked with Steve Lillywhite, notable for his collaborations with U2, and released 'Dirty Work' in March of 1986. Like a previous reviewer stated, this was the first Rolling Stones album not to reach #1 in America since 1965, breaking a 21-year string of #1 albums. So, needless to say, the years 1985-1988 were not good ones for the "world's greatest rock & roll band."
There's the history report. Now here's the review.
'Dirty Work,' despite what other reviewers say here on Amazon and in "criticland," is not a bad album. Is it 'Exile On Main St.'? By no means. But is it the awful pile of garbage many people here on Amazon make it out to be? By no means either.
Many people on Amazon complain that 'Dirty Work' sounds "dated" and "cheesy." Well, I have listened to the album pretty steadily over the past several weeks, and I don't hear any elements of a "dated" sound (with the exception being 'Back to Zero,' which admittedly has not held up well in the 24 years since it's initial release). It's incredibly well-produced, and it's also interesting to hear the Stones tackle a wide variety of genres -- reggae ('Too Rude'), dance ('Winning Ugly' and 'Back to Zero'), Motown-esque R&B (their cover of 'Harlem Shuffle') and even ballads (the lovely Richards-penned 'Sleep Tonight').
And of course, there's some rockers on here too. 'Had It With You' is actually one of the best Stones songs of the '80s, with Jagger singing with more rage than I think I've heard him sing with. 'One Hit (To The Body)' features some great guitar work by Jimmy Page (yes, you heard me correctly -- Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page), and 'Dirty Work' is a fast-paced and heavily punk-influenced rocker that's also an angry number. Listen to Wyman's bass on this track.
This album is also notable in that Ian "Stu" Stewart, the band's longtime road manager and piano player (as well as a founding member of the Stones before he was "dismissed" in 1962), died shortly after the recording sessions for the album ended. He was 47. The group added a 33-second hidden track at the end of Stewart playing the blues standard 'Key to the Highway' on piano as a tribute to him, and strangely enough, it's actually a highlight here. Very cool to hear Ian solo on the piano without any background instrumentation, if only for 33 short seconds.
The highlight here is probably 'One Hit (to the Body),' which has, over the years, grown to become one of my favorite Rolling Stones songs (I know many Stones fanatics are going to want to kill me for saying that, but it's true). The lowlight is definitely 'Back to Zero,' which just sounds dated today, but it's not a bad song. It's got a nice rhythm to it, and it probably should have been a bigger hit than it was.
Strangely enough, the hit single from this album was a cover of an old R&B song from 1964, 'Harlem Shuffle.' This was the first time that the hit single from a Stones album was not written by Jagger/Richards in ages. And it's a good cover -- the boys certainly do this song justice. And it's cool to hear Bruce Springsteen's future wife Patty Scalfia on backing vocals.
Overall, 'Dirty Work' is no 'Sticky Fingers,' but it's certainly not garbage. Forget the scathing reviews. This album is not a terrible album by any stretch. It's no masterpiece, but it's a well-produced 1980s album from the Stones that encompasses a wide variety of genres and shows a more experimental side of the band. There is nothing dated about this album except for 'Back to Zero' and that album cover with band wearing Miami Vice suits (but it is colorful, nonetheless).
I recommend 'Dirty Work' if you are a seasoned fan. If you are a new fan, go with '40 Licks,' 'Rewind (1971-1984)' or 'Made in the Shade' if you want a compilation, or if you want the studio albums, get the classic four ('Beggars Banquet,' 'Let it Bleed,' 'Sticky Fingers,' and 'Exile on Main Street') and perhaps 'Goats Head Soup' before picking this one up. But if you are a Stones fan interested in buying this, do so and decide for yourself whether or not you like it.