MTV was still a year away from coming into existence when the Rolling Stones released Emotional Rescue in the summer of 1980, but that didn’t stop them from making a couple of videos to promote it. These were aired on American late-night cable shows like Video Concert Hall and other music programs across the world, but budgets were painfully cheap and they weren’t exactly high-concept. The title track actually had two videos. One attempted to recreate the thermo imagery of the album cover, while the other one shows them lip-syncing it in a bizarre red-and-white room. It looks like a one-take job.
For the second single, “She’s So Cold,” they managed to somehow pare down the promotional video even more until they reached the absolute minimum of what is possible. The band is in what looks like the Holodeck from Star Trek: The Next Generation, or maybe an unfinished bathroom. Charlie is in a neon green T-shirt and actually manages to smile a time or two when he doesn’t know the camera is on him. Ron Wood is in his own neon green tee, but he fancied it up a little bit with a blue blazer. Keith is in a leopard jacket, while Mick has a red button-down with a sporty black vest. Bill Wyman does his best to hide behind Charlie’s kit, but every once in a while the camera finds him for a second. If the group spent more than 38 minutes on set it would be surprising, but the end result is still spectacular in its minimalism.
Three years later, the Stones recorded an exact opposite song: “She Was Hot.” They were now firmly in the MTV-era and they left the Holodeck behind for a fun video featuring Anita Morris as a red-headed temptress pursuing each member of the band. Throughout the next decade, they’d make bigger and bigger videos as they chased a massive comeback hit that never quite happened – as much as we love latter-day songs like “Mixed Emotions,” “Out of Control” and “Saint of Me.” If they ever make another record of original tunes (something they’ve done a single time in the past 19 years), they should maybe go back to the days of neon shirts and wonderfully simple sets. Maybe by now Mick has finally found a woman that’s just the right temperature and can write “She’s Nice and Warm” about her.