Back in 1978, Keith Richards was asked why the Stones called their new album Some Girls. He replied, “Because we couldn’t remember their fucking names.” Well argued, sir! Some Girls stands as the craftiest rock & roll comeback in history — after years of sucking in the Seventies, the Stones suddenly sounded like nasty bitches again. It kicked off a five-year run that’s ripe for re-appreciation: the Mall-Rat Years. The Stones seduced a new breed of Eighties parking-lot kids who didn’t give a crap about the band’s legacy but shook mullet when “She’s So Cold” or “Little T&A” hit the radio in between Journey and Foreigner.
Some Girls is where the whip came down, with Mick Jagger dishing about groupies, drugs, cops, hustlers, ex-wives, paternity suits and other joys of life in the Big Apple. From the funk strut of “Miss You” to the punk sludge of “Shattered,” these were songs that could only have been written by insanely rich rock stars in a pissy mood. It put them back on top — but for millions of American shagheads, Some Girls may as well have been a debut album from their new favorite band. The Stones kicked these kids’ asses with Emotional Rescue, Tattoo You and Undercover, going for lean guitar propulsion and twitchy beats at a time when other megastars got bogged down in synths and overdubs.
All these albums have treasures worth digging up. Emotional Rescue soars with brilliant goofs like “Where the Boys Go” (for a “Saturday-night piece of ass”) and “Let Me Go,” on which Jagger muses, “Maybe I’ll become a playboy/Hang around in gay bars/And move to the West Side of town.” Tattoo You has fab-rock scuzz (“Hang Fire,” “Neighbours”), space-soul ballads (“Heaven”) and Keef’s “Little T&A.” Who else could sing the line “She’s my little rock & roll” 17 times without sounding like an idiot? Nobody, that’s who.
All over these records, Jagger chronicles after-hours adult loneliness, the kind that nails you when you’re a rock god with girlfriends stashed in hotels around the world but nobody you can cry to or protect. In “Too Tough,” from Undercover, he sees an ex on TV, acting in some late-night rerun soap, and it crushes his soul, like the temporary lovers who haunt him in “Feel On Baby” and “She Was Hot.” Tough stuff indeed — but after these albums, nobody would ever count the Stones out again.
Tattoo You — Five stars
Undercover — Three and a half stars
Some Girls — Four and a half stars