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|Studio album by The Rolling Stones|
|Released||7 November 1983|
|Recorded||November 1975;11 November–17 December 1982, May-August 1983|
|Producer||The Glimmer Twins and Chris Kimsey|
|The Rolling Stones chronology|
|Singles from Undercover|
Undercover is the seventeenth studio album by The Rolling Stones and was released in 1983. After their preceding studio album, Tattoo You, which was mostly patched together from a selection of outtakes, Undercover was their first release of all newly-recorded material in the 1980s. With the advent of the MTV generation, The Rolling Stones attempted to re-invent themselves for a new era.
Due to the recent advancements in recording technology, The Glimmer Twins (a.k.a. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards) were officially joined in the producer's seat with Chris Kimsey, the first outside producer The Rolling Stones had used since Jimmy Miller. Recording began with an Instrumental number called "Cellophane Trousers" which was recorded in November 1975 during the "Black And Blue" sessions (which can be found on various session bootlegs), then in November 1982, three months after The Rolling Stones 1982 European "Tattoo You" Tour ended, it was given words and recorded to the track. Soon enough it became the single number "Too Tough". They began recording at the Pathe Marconi Studios in Paris, France. After breaking for the holidays, they completed the album in New York City the following summer.
The making of Undercover was an arduous process, largely because Jagger and Richards' famous mid-1980s row began during these sessions. Jagger was keenly aware of new styles and wanted to keep The Rolling Stones current and experimental, while Richards was seemingly more focused on the bands rock and blues roots. As a result, there was friction, and the tension between the two key men in The Rolling Stones would increase over the upcoming years.
The lyrics on Undercover are among Mick Jagger's most macabre, with much grisly imagery to be found in the lead single and Top 10 hit "Undercover of the Night", a rare political track about South America, as well as "Tie You Up (The Pain Of Love)," and "Too Much Blood", Jagger's attempt to incorporate contemporary trends in dance music. Musically, Undercover appears to duel between hard rock, reggae, and new wave, reflecting the leadership tug of war between Jagger and Richards at the time. "Pretty Beat Up" is largely a Ronnie Wood composition, and Jagger and Richards were both reportedly reluctant to include it on the album.
Undercover was released in November 1983 to generally warm reviews and reached #3 in the UK and #4 in the United States. It was a relative disappointment however, breaking a streak of eight #1 albums (excluding compilations and live albums) in the U.S. and failing to spawn any huge singles. Its cover artwork was covered with real peel-off stickers on the original vinyl edition, which when removed revealed other patterned geometric shapes.
"Think I'm Going Mad" was a track first recorded during the Emotional Rescue sessions of 1979. It finally arrives as the B-side to "She Was Hot". Unfortunately, it was left off the Rarities 1971–2003 collection and has never appeared on CD.
Undercover continues to divide critics and fans alike. Although it was largely praised on release (Rolling Stone awarded it a near-classic four-and-a-half stars), many fans came to regard it as among The Rolling Stones' weaker releases, a view echoed by Jagger himself in later interviews. While some critics tend to blame the then-contemporary production and eclecticism, it should be noted that a large part of the album was done in a hard-rock style ("She Was Hot", "Too Tough," "All The Way Down," "It Must Be Hell"), leading many to fault the generally inconsistent material. A great deal of the tension during the recording of the album stemmed from the fact that Keith Richards had emerged (to an extent) from his destructive lifestyle of the previous decade, and thus sought a more active role in the creative direction of the band.
As with several latter-day Stones records, recent critical analysis has been kinder, noting the album's eclecticism and nastiness as a reflection of the Jagger/Richards feud. It would also prove to be the last album that seriously attempted to take the band's music in new directions; critics often fault the Stones' later (and more popular) albums as relying too comfortably on their early-70's hard rock and blues formula. However, the record is still one of the Stones' less popular and more obscure releases.
All songs by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, except where noted.
- "Undercover of the Night" – 4:31
- "She Was Hot" – 4:40
- "Tie You Up (The Pain of Love)" – 4:16
- "Wanna Hold You" – 3:52
- "Feel On Baby" – 5:03
- "Too Much Blood" – 6:14
- "Pretty Beat Up" (Mick Jagger/Keith Richards/Ronnie Wood) – 4:03
- "Too Tough"– 3:52
- "All the Way Down" – 3:12
- "It Must Be Hell" – 5:03
- The Rolling Stones
- Mick Jagger – lead and backing vocals, electric guitar, and harmonica
- Keith Richards – electric guitar, backing vocals, and bass guitar
- Charlie Watts – drums
- Ronnie Wood – electric and slide guitar, backing vocals, and bass guitar
- Bill Wyman – bass guitar, percussion, and piano
- Additional personnel
- Jim Barber – electric guitar
- CHOPS – horns
- Moustapha Cisse – percussion
- Brahms Coundoul – percussion
- Martin Ditcham – percussion
- Sly Dunbar – percussion
- Chuck Leavell – keyboards, organ, and piano
- David Sanborn – saxophone
- Robbie Shakespeare – bass guitar
- Ian Stewart – piano and percussion
|1983||UK Top 100 Albums||3|
|1983||The Billboard 200||4|
|1983||"Undercover of the Night"||The Billboard Hot 100||9|
|1983||"Undercover of the Night"||Mainstream Rock Tracks||2|
|1983||"Undercover of the Night"||Hot Dance Music/Club Play||9|
|1983||"Undercover of the Night"||UK Top 100 Singles||11|
|1983||"Too Tough"||Mainstream Rock Tracks||14|
|1984||"Too Much Blood"||Mainstream Rock Tracks||38|
|1984||"She Was Hot"||Mainstream Rock Tracks||4|
|1984||"She Was Hot"||The Billboard Hot 100||44|
|1984||"She Was Hot"||UK Top 100 Singles||42|
|1984||"Think I'm Going Mad"|
B-side of "She Was Hot"
|Mainstream Rock Tracks||50|
|1985||"Too Much Blood"||Hot Dance Music/Club Play||44|