Far From Their Best .....
Rich Latta | Albuquerque, NM - Land of Entitlement | 02/12/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
". . . I tend to cherry pick the best songs when I play it.
After the less than stellar DIRTY WORK album from 1986, the tension between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards finally caused their relationship to go off the deep end. Estranged and crapping on each other in the press, they had little to do with each other for the next few years. Mick Jagger had already released his first solo album WHO'S THE BOSS in '85, much to Richards' displeasure, so he in turn eventually released his own solo album TALK IS CHEAP in '88. Both albums had some decent moments (Richards' was especially good) but they could hardly compare with the Stones' best records. Realizing they were better together than apart, they reunited with the band to produce the much ballyhooed STEEL WHEELS and went on to embark on their biggest tour to date. The album itself, while far from measuring up to their very best work, is quite good and a worthy purchase for the typical fan. Rating for everyone else: marginally recommended
"Sad Sad Sad" - great rocker and single. *****
"Mixed Emotions" - great rocker and single. *****
"Terrifying" - not so good, not bad. ***1/2
"Hold Onto Your Hat" - underrated. Has a really driving old school rock feel - nice and loose. The best guitar licks on the album. *****
"Hearts For Sale" - a strutting mid-tempo rocker. A little limp. Jagger's swagger and attitude are on the money but they should've ditched the keyboard. ***
"Blinded By Love" - This is a pretty country song with some fantastic accompaniment - piano, mandolin and fiddle. ****
"Rock and a Hard Place" - Glitzy and fun if a bit too repetitive - they kinda wear out the main riff by the end of the song. Bill Wyman churns out some throbbing disco bass on what is likely the last Stones album we'll ever hear him on, considering how happy he seems to be in retirement. ****1/2
"Can't Be Seen" - starts out sounding like gross generic rock - ditch the synthesizers already! - but thankfully becomes a decent guitar song. Keith Richards turns in a great vocal with lines like, "I just can't be seen with you - it's too dangerous baby!" ***1/2
"Almost Hear You Sigh" - gets my vote for best song on the album and ranks high among all of their ballads. Fantastic melody, rhythm, guitar, background vocals... Mick coos, "I feel your tongue on mine . . . silky smooth." Great acoustic guitar solo from Keef. *****+
"Continental Drift" - This is an experiment gone right, an African-flavored song loaded with African musicians and their native instruments. Jagger plays the compelling keyboard riff. *****
"Break The Spell" - has a bit of old school twang, a little boogie-woogie rock n' roll. Mick Jagger blows a harp on this one. In case you didn't know, he always sounds great on this instrument. He's also a really good guitarist! ****
"Slipping Away" - The other great ballad, this one's sung by Keef: "Just as you have touched my heart, I wake up babe and we're apart." ****1/2
Post classic classic
Dean T. Sinclair | Louisiana | 09/21/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of all the albums after the classic 70's period, this album is, in my opinion, by far the best. The songwriting is consistently strong. It just felt like the Stones were tired of being written off, and went after it here. I saw them on the tour that followed this release, and they were clearly interested in showing that they could still rock. And of course, "Almost Hear You Sigh" is just a beautiful song. This is a must have."