“You fell out of the clear blue sky
To the darkness below.
The smell of your flesh excites me
My blood starts to flow…
So help me God.”
By the mid 1980’s, The Rolling Stones were more than a Rock N’ Roll band – they were the lone survivors of the British Invasion, still packing stadiums as one of the biggest acts in music. Frontman Mick Jagger had at this point decided that he could achieve more stardom on his own than with his legendary band. He released the first Stones solo disc, “She’s The Boss” and decided to tour with a new band playing both his new solo tunes and Stones classics. This incensed Keith Richards, as his first priority was, is and has continued to be the maintenance of the group dynamic. Thus begun the famous Jagger-Richards feud the group has referred to as World War III.
Unlike today, most bands in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s felt the need to have new albums ready every year or two. The Stones were no exception. They had released the album “Undercover” in 1983, completing their distribution deal with Atlantic Records, the home of Rolling Stones Records since the early 1970’s. With a new home at Columbia Records, there was a need for a new album by the time 1986 arrived. With Jagger still focused on his solo project, the album fell to Keith Richards who was more than willing to steer the ship. On “Dirty Work”, he brought in collaborators like Tom Waits and Bobby Womack, as well as ensuring that the album had a strict blues and R&B feel. The album is all the better for it, a release some say is a transitory statement bridging the 1970’s era Stones with the “Steel Wheels”, reunion era group. This is all conjecture about the direction of the sound, however, as one would attest the band has always maintained a high standard of production, musicianship and songwriting.
The song ‘One Hit to the Body’ was not the hit on “Dirty Work”, that honor goes to the album’s first single “Harlem Shuffle”. But “….Body” is a definite rock classic, a song sorely overlooked by hit packages like “Forty Licks”. The instrumentation on this song is definitely out of the ordinary with a chiming acoustic guitar backing a snarling guitar riff Muddy Waters would be proud to call his own. Jagger, as absent as some may say he was, delivers on the vocal with powerful lines that can only be described as Chicago blues at it’s best. Writing on this track is credited to Jagger/Richards/Wood, noting the mounting contributions of guitarist Ron Wood, who had not been credited as a major writer in the group until this release.
The Rolling Stones did not tour to support this album, although a few videos were made for Mtv and the group played some promotional gigs in support. The void left after this album made some wonder if the Stones were done for good, as preposterous a notion as this seems today. With Jagger promoting his solo hits at Live Aid and Keith Richards pursuing his own solo work with his side project “The X Pensive Wynos” and the Chuck Berry film “Hail Hail Rock N Roll”, there didn’t seem to be much time to revive the group. But solo projects have a glass ceiling, no matter how you slice it. The group reformed in 1989 for the “Steel Wheels” album, embarking on the highest grossing tour of all time that same year. Jagger, Richards and the other Stones have been working ever since, releasing great new albums and going on juggernaut tours, bringing their music to the masses.