Although The Rolling Stones’s heyday was gone by this point, this album comes across as a fan favourite. The last great album by the group was 1972’s Exile On Main Street and the previous good album by them was 1978’s Some Girls. Some effort on the group’s behalf was obviously required to keep their international status as a popular Rock group. This album was released during a more unusual musical era than what was present when The Rolling Stones first started out. Tattoo You may hold some promise for those out there who are serious listeners. Still, how does it sound today? Let’s find out.
Start Me Up is one of the most popular songs by the group ever. It launches into some really awesome riffage and playing by the group. This is instantly excellent and very listenable, and although it was the 1980s by this point, The Rolling Stones still had it in them to surprise and awe listeners. Mick Jagger puts in one of his best and most passionate performances as a vocalist ever. This song comes across as quite special and fun listening to, and although it is very simple listening, this is a fantastic piece to begin an album with. Mick Jagger sings and yelps better than Michael Jackson ever did, and this is pure Rock and Roll. A really excellent song, “You make a grown man cry” repeats Mick Jagger, but this is happy music. Enjoyable listening for sure.
Hang Fire begins with a powerful drum roll, launching into a retro sounding piece of music with some 1960s style harmonies. Mick Jagger sings about being a lazy slob and the group power on with their playing in a very wonderful way. This song comes across as a fairly focused effort and it shows that the group that is The Rolling Stones still had it in them by this point. An excellent listen, and very Rock and Roll. Nice work, even if this tune is not as widely noticed as the previous song before it.
Slave is a much longer piece than usual for The Rolling Stones at over six minutes long. It begins with drummer Charlie Watts putting in an excellent drum beat before loud and crunchy electric guitars enter. Some excellent backing harmonies then follow. Although this is stripped back and basic Rock music, it does not at all lose its appeal. It’s a fine and decent jam from these guys, and no doubt that guitarist Keith Richards was the driving force behind this sort of music from what we know. Mick Jagger does a mixture of talking and singing over the top of this tune, which is rather odd. There is some gorgeous saxophone towards the middle that is really unique, excellent and fantastic. The Rolling Stones obviously still had their mojo by this point, and thankfully so, for the listener. A wonderful, supercharged, simple and enjoyable listen throughout, it seems that The Rolling Stones had got it together at this point in time to create some simple and enjoyable Rock music. In the second half of the song is a fantastically raunchy and decent guitar solo that impresses one deeply. This is underrated and superb by the group, and it proves the point that Rock music at this point was here to stay. Some delicious saxophone then returns towards the end of this song, duelling it out with the guitars for attention. An optimistic and fantastic sounding piece of music, all the way through to the fade out. Nice one.
Little T&A is a fairly raunchy name for a song title. It begins with some more electric guitar riffs, before launching into a strange piece as Mick Jagger isn’t singing here, and instead, in a bizarre method, Keith Richards takes the microphone. Still, despite that, this is another strong and consistent effort. Quite odd listening to this tune without the overbearing presence of Mick Jagger, the song is still really fine and excellent listening. The guitars are driven and fantastic on this album, and the playing and performance are actually very, very good, even on this song. “She’s my little Rock and Roll,” is chanted in this song, amongst other raunchy lyrics. Towards the end is some interesting chord changes and powerful drumming that sound refreshing. A good song about male lust, and a cool tune to boot.
Black Limousine is a rather weird tune with a harmonica intro, before going into a reflection of the past with a lover. Again, this is a loud, rocking and powerful tune that does impress the listener. Sure, the material may not be as varied and different as other albums by The Rolling Stones, but this is still good for what it is. Like a fist in the face, these songs on this album pack a punch, and the guitar playing is not only decent, but very, very good. The guitar soloing here is mad, it does sound as though the group had gotten their act together for this record. There is harpsichord and piano in the background as well. A throwback to past glories, but hey, this is a thrilling and excellent listen. Good song.
Neighbours launches into a hollering tune by The Rolling Stones that isn’t as good as what came before it, but still sounds powerful, straightforward and raunchy. This is very much reminiscent of the simplicity of AC/DC the music on this album (who were huge by this time), but is still very much The Rolling Stones of what we know and expect. A straightforward tune, but even so, this isn’t junk. It is a cool and interesting effort all the same. There is another gorgeous saxophone solo here, which really adds some dynamicism and impact to the music at hand. A fine and really excellent listen, this is about interfering neighbours who are nosy in other people’s business, if you get the picture. Again, another great listen.
Worried About You is a longer piece with an organ and hi-hat intro, with Mick Jagger singing in a falsetto voice. This is an unusual song to hear from this album, but is a good song intro nonetheless. The combination of singing, loud and punchy instrumentation and songcraft here is excellent. Soon enough, this launches into the main song at hand. It seems unusual that Mick Jagger sings in a falsetto throughout, and probably isn’t entirely necessary here. However, when he begins singing the chorus, we are in bliss. A searing guitar solo follows that is really awesome and fantastic, showcasing that the group’s guitarists had chops and could really play. This is actually quite a decent listen, again, for this album and the songs at hand. It seems that under difficult circumstances, The Rolling Stones outperformed many others and impressed listeners with this album. A cool listen, even for a longer and lesser track.
Tops begins with some loose guitar playing and quickly launches into a piano driven ballad that doesn’t really fit the album as well as it could have. Nonetheless, despite this weakness, it is a good song, even if it is not a great song. Mick Jagger still sings very well at this point in his career, despite the fact that it was the 1980s already by this point. The fact that this is a ballad, plus the fact that the instrumentation is a little off, drags this down somewhat. Still, a good effort, just probably not a great effort. This points out that The Rolling Stones, although trying, did not have as much magic as back in their heyday. Nonetheless, a decent listening experience, if not a flawed one.
Heaven begins with some effects laden electric guitar parts, before launching into an unusual tune with some more harmonies. This track is actually quite ordinary, it just doesn’t fit the record and has an ironic name for such a song. In any case, you probably may wish to skip this tune, it just doesn’t do the album justice. It is also difficult to see how this is a more popular piece from this album, it sounds too much like a piece aimed at experiencing sonic textures rather than an actual song. The Rolling Stones were about songs, not textural experimentation, and this is why this song fails to make an impact. Too weird and experimental, this sadly is on this record, and should not be. A terrible idea for a piece of music by these guys, it is over after four minutes. A waste of time, frankly.
No Use In Crying is a very 1980s sounding piece, and again this doesn’t really sound like The Rolling Stones at all. Sure, the trends were changing a great deal in Rock music, but The Rolling Stones did not need to change their tune so drastically. Also, the falsetto singing by Mick Jagger doesn’t really seem to be The Rolling Stones forte here. It’s okay, but like many commercial records of the 1980s, this needn’t sound so awfully generic. It’s okay for what it is, but the album begins to run out of steam by this point. This isn’t Michael Jackson, this is The Rolling Stones. Sadly, not really worth it here.
Waiting On A Friend begins with some nicely strummed guitar, piano and other interesting musical sounds to match. This, again, sounds a little too 1980s for its own good but surprisingly, this is a more typical piece from the group and it works well here. This is a good effort with a pseudo-Country sound to it, and it is one of the more memorable pieces from this album. The saxophone here again is ridiculously good, and adds a classy and elegant touch to this recording. A nice way to finish a very good album and this sounds really quite satisfying to hear. A refreshing piece of music, like a cold beer at the end of a hard day’s work. Nice work all the same, and although this is a more textural piece, it works better here. An enjoyable listening experience throughout, complete with some piano towards the end. Good to hear.
Tattoo You is a very enjoyable listen that has lasted well to this day. It is a decent album born out of difficult circumstances for The Rolling Stones and rescued a band who otherwise were not doing too well with things prior to that, let alone wanting to make new music. It is their last good album of note, and afterwards the celebrity nature of these guys in the band took over. Still, good music is what it is. Worth hearing, especially if you dig Classic Rock. The recent 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe reissue is also worth checking out if you are a fan of this album.
Raunchy, rough and ready Rock and Roll at its finest.