This review of Keef’s first new solo album in 23 years comes from Paste, written by Holly Gleason, Sept. 15, 2015…
As rock’s enduring pirate, Keith Richards embodies swagger, sangfroid and a certain delicious naughtiness. More than the Stones themselves, the guitarist exudes a dirt ’n’ salt earthiness that’s equal parts Rastafarian, broke-down cowboy and seen-it-all gypsy globetrotter.
On “Trouble,” the most post-modern Stones-evoking track on Crosseyed Heart, his voice is all worn rope and spark. The guitars tumble and swoop as co-producer/drummer Steve Jordan presses the beat with an urgency, Richards laughingly croaking “Maybe trouble is your middle name…”
For surface fans, the check is covered.
But the more eclectic material is where Richards’ wit and grit emerge. With the unfinished acoustic “Crosseyed Heart,” about loving two women, disintegrating into the frank admission, “That’s all I got,” Richards lets it all hang out.
There’s “Nothing on Me,” the low-slung blues shuffle of getting busted and getting out of it; a horn-flecked reggae undulation, “Love Overdue”; and the “Wild Horses”-evoking “Robbed Blind” basted in steel guitar—a tale of misadventure, a dusty half-spoken vocal, a plucked gut string guitar and an evocation of Gram Parsons’ finest hardcore country.
After random spoken riffing, “Amnesia” finds Richards sinking into the pulsing groove of the corner-of-mouth muttered mid-tempo. Fallout from being conked on the head (coconut tree, anyone?), its snarl suggests far darker pursuits. That misdirection to danger fuels his song and feeds his hungers.
“She’s a vegetarian, and me, I like my meat,” Richards enthuses in the “opposites attract” rocker d’amour “Heartstopper.” Waddy Wachtel’s electric guitar sweeps down, strangles the frenzy and drives it higher—like the great late mid-career Stones moments—but Richards’ snaggle-toothed confession of lust-fueled magnetism brings it home.
If “Something for Nothing” seems expected, the halting “Just a Gift,” all midnight and gravelly offer, has that gentleman rogue tinge that’s made Richards the most alluring of all rock stars. The smoldering, world-weary knowledge and always tender soul beneath the leathery exterior beckon.
Followed by a drawn-out “Good Night Irene,” delivered like the dissolute’s “Amazing Grace,” Crosseyed Heart is a hymnal for rascals, reprobates and ne’er-do-wells with hearts of gold—or at least kindness. Honor among thieves, love amongst scoundrels… Keith Richards has carved an encompassing survey of his own spirit and set it to a vast set of influences for all to see.
A Nov. 23rd review of the recent reissue of Some Girls — taken from the PopMatters website and written by Matthew Fiander…
If Some Girls isn’t the best Rolling Stones album—and sure, it’s not—it’s surely the most fascinating in terms of the band’s history and development. It came out in 1978 and was the band’s response to the punk-rock movement that had risen up and railed against the bloat of rock institutions, which by the late ‘70s the Stones had been included in. So Jagger and company took dead aim at the youngsters, even incorporating that loathsome antithesis to punk rock—disco music—into their sound and making it their own.
This going up against the new guard was, for the Stones, both understandable and not. They were, without a doubt, an inspiration to many punk rock bands just like the Beatles were, even if it wasn’t punk to admit it in 1978. So in some ways, the Rolling Stones deciding to “respond” on their new record was little more than posturing. In another way, though, the Stones weren’t exactly responding as a representation of the rock tradition—they weren’t just leaders of the old guard lashing out. Their need to respond was probably a bit more pointed than that, seeing as they were dealing with their own, personal backlash in the mid-‘70s.
Which isn’t to say their albums weren’t well received, or that they didn’t sell a lot of records, but critics—Lester Bangs chief among them—and fans were starting to view the band as safe, comfortable, happy to slouch on the rock throne and give us middle of the road chuggers. After 1972’s Exile on Main Street, the band returned with the more consolidated funk and blues of Goat’s Head Soup. The record has aged well, and showed the band capable of a more nuanced energy, but it also paved the way for 1974’s It’s Only Rock and Roll Read the rest of this entry »
Another July 1972 Newsday article on The Rolling Stones by esteemed critic Robert Christgau…
The difference between the Rolling Stones who played this country in 1969 and the Rolling Stones who climaxed their 1972 American tour with four sold-out concerts at Madison Square Garden is the difference between a group and a band. The distinction is subtle, and sometimes unnecessary, but crucial. The Stones of the sixties were not only coherent as a unit; despite a great deal of surface evolution, they were also deliberately static. Instead of dealing with the paradoxes of real life in their time, they chose to defy them — nothing less, nothing more. In a way, Brian Jones epitomized this choice by his knack for melding esoteric musical modes into the old context. Read the rest of this entry »
This May 25, 2010 article comes from The Atlantic. I don’t believe, myself, that The Stones “died” after this album, though I do believe it was their crowning achievement…
“Rocks Off,” the first track of the Rolling Stones’s Exile on Main Street, opens with a scratchy Keith Richards Telecaster riff punctuated by a single Charlie Watts snare hit. Mick Jagger lasciviously intones an “oh yeah,” pitched perfectly between earnestness and irony. This sequence lasts all of five seconds, but you’d be hard-pressed to find five seconds that better articulate the brilliance of the Rolling Stones, much in the way that Exile, the band’s 1972 shambling sprawl of a double-album that has recently enjoyed a re-ssue, perfectly captures a too-brief period during which Rolling Stones Read the rest of this entry »
One of the great all-time Rolling Stones singles, featuring none other than the legendary Sonny Rollins on sax…
The newly-unearthed song from the Exile on Main Street sessions from 1972, finished in 2010, and coming out on the upcoming deluxe edition of this classic album (due May 18th). Great song — even though it was finished now, it still sounds exactly like The Stones circa 1972. Too bad it wasn’t finished and released back then…