Second Spin: Mick Jagger, She’s The Boss

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Artist: Mick Jagger

Album: She’s The Boss

From: Vintage Vinyl’s 99 cent bin.

Year: 1985

Label: Columbia Records

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What it sounds like: The Rolling Stones cover Huey Lewis and the News, discover synthesizers and drum machines and hire Herbie Hancock to play them.

Best Track: “She’s The Boss.” The title track is the ninth and mercifully final cut on the album. The salvation of this song (and the only strong part of the whole album really) is Jeff Beck’s guitar playing. Beck is featured on six of the nine songs and on this one he blends in with a slew of crazy sounds by doing a killer palm-muted/bubbling/altogether mind-blowing guitar lick.

Those crazy sounds? They include instruments like “talking drums,” “metal” two synthesizers, and even organs by Second Spin’s old favorite, Chuck Leavell. All of these build to a frantic peak as the song crescendos.

Lyrically, it’s like a bizarre version of “Under My Thumb” with Jagger singing lines like, “She’s the boss! She’s the boss in the office, she’s the boss in the kitchen/ She’s the boss in bed, she’s the boss in my head.”

Worst Track: “Hard Woman.” The worst songwriting is actually featured on “Lucky In Love,” where Mick trots out the old love/gambling motif that he wore out on about 20 Stones albums. This song, however, is epically bad all around despite the fact that it features Jeff Beck on guitar and Pete Townshend on acoustic guitar.

First, it sounds like Jagger is pinching his nose while he sings, giving his already nasally voice a higher, more obnoxious pitch. Then there’s the composition of the song—it’s going for an anthemic, “You can’t always get what you want” type slow-jam but falls way, way short.

There’s a swelling string and synthesizer arrangement that castrates any kind of balls the song might have had and then there’s a cheesy piano riff at the end that sounds like something from a Barbra Streisand song. Yuck.

Again, Jeff Beck has an amazing, bluesy guitar solo at the bridge—where the song peaks like a good Rolling Stones song.

Who you can thank for the amazing cover art: Sadly, there are no art credits included in the liner notes. Two questions: Is he wearing lipstick on the cover? And is he wearing leggings on the back cover?

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Interesting Facts: Via Wikipedia: This was the first of four solo albums from Jagger, and it peaked at No. 13 on the US pop charts and was eventually certified platinum. It was recorded in the city of Nassau in the Bahamas.

In addition to Beck, Townshend, Leavell and Hancock, a slew of famous producers/studio musicians make appearances on the record. These include the famed reggae rhythm section of Sly and Robbie (Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare) , Carlos Alomar (a guitarist known for his work with David Bowie, James Brown, and Chuck Berry, among others), bassist Bill Laswell, legendary producer Nile Rodgers and, of course, a songwriting credit for his best mate Keith Richards.

The Wiki entry states that Jagger wanted to make the album sound “hip and contemporary,” and have a “very mid-1980s character with its use of synthesizers and drum machines.” He definitely succeeded at that, as it sounds like the sleaziest of ‘80s dance music. I can just picture Mick wearing big aviator sunglasses all coked out of his mind as he was recording this one.

It was well-received by critics, earning 4/5 stars by Rolling Stone, who praised it as “muscular and tricky.”

Other things you might not know about Sir Michael Phillip Jagger:

*attended the London School of Economics, where he majored in accounting and finance *has seven children by four women *named the Rolling Stones after his favorite Muddy Waters song [Edit: Brian Jones did, not Mick] *has a personal net worth of $415 million [Edit: As of 2007, it was roughly that, says the BBC.] *was knighted in 2003. Keith Richards, who was not knighted, called it “a fucking paltry honor."

-- Keegan Hamilton

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