Talk Is Cheap (Virgin, 1988)
Live at the Hollywood Palladium, December 12, 1988 (Virgin, 1991)
Main Offender (Virgin, 1992)
Not content to be one of the greatest guitarists and songwriters in rock history, Rolling Stone's Keith Richards staked out a new role in 1988: Solo artist. Talk is Cheap found him collaborating with funksters (Bernie Worrell) and L.A. rock pros (Waddy Wachtel) on songs like the swaggering "How I Wish." Most of the other tunes are torrid one-riff jobs. An Al Green–ish tune featuring Sarah Dash is a nice beauty-and-the-beast duet, and "Locked Away" is a good Richards ballad. Keith proudly mixes his relatively on-key vocals a bit high, and it's arguable that "better" singing makes him more expressive. The Richards guitar, however, is in top form —unflanged, unwashed, and irresistible. Live at the Hollywood Palladium is even better. Main Offender lacks a bit of the abandon of in-concert Keith, but it's still dependable. Reportedly, Richards has years of solo jams stored in the vault. Here's hoping he throws the doors opened soon.
Portions of this album guide appeared in The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (Fireside, 2004).
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