Let me preface this blog entry by saying to my long-time friend and big-time Rolling Stones fan, Troy Swafford, this is for you buddy!
Back in the Summer of 1980, I was getting ready to spend my last year in high school, living life as the “son of my father and/or mother”. You see, my father was the principal at one of the elementary schools that fed into our middle school, and my mother was the art teacher at the other elementary school. So, nearly everyone I graduated with had either one or both of my parents at one time during their school days. What made it so awesome was if one of my parents had “unfairly” disciplined a classmate, then I was the perfect target (or my brother) for retribution. It basically sucked, because no matter how hard I worked in sports, which was very hard, or in the classroom, which was very little, I succeeded because of my parents not the hard work, not the hundreds of miles I ran each week or the hundreds of shots I put up each day, nor the hours of ball-handling drills I did each day. Nope, teenagers would tell me to my face that I was lucky because I could do anything and not get in trouble. To say I was ready to get to college and become just another student was so very appealing to me. So, that summer, I had one foot in my hometown and one foot out of there.
Anyway, that year was very significant, musically speaking. In the space of a month, between the end of June and the end of July 1980, three very significant albums of the moment were released. The first one released never hit number one at the time but is one of the biggest-selling albums of all-time, AC/DC’s landmark album Back in Black. Shortly there after, Queen released their most successful album of their career in the US called The Game. Then, the third album that had rock fan’s abuzz was The Rolling Stones’ follow-up to their surprise masterpiece of 1978’s big seller Some Girls. That follow-up, Emotional Rescue has been ridiculed throughout the decades as a mess of an album, exactly the kind of thing that happens when the Stones are lazy, stoned and unfocused. Oh sure, the band could still whip up a couple of great singles, like they did on this album. But, for the most part, Emotional Rescue seems like an album of two pieces of Stone’s magic and a whole bunch of half-baked crap.
Just like anyone else my age, I was captivated by the album’s first single, “Emotional Rescue”. The title song was an obvious attempt at making another rock-disco crossover hit that the band did in 1978, with the now-classic “Miss You”. And, even though we all knew what the Stones were up to with “Emotional Rescue”, no one cared because it was a great song that showcased singer Mick Jagger’s falsetto, though we all know he is no Eddie Kendrick of The Temptations. Still, the song was a fun sexual come-on that could be easily parodied in the high school hallways and varsity locker rooms all across this great nation to great comedic effect, especially Jagger’s improvised sexy come-ons near the end of the song.
The other great song was the typical Stones-sounding “She’s So Cold”, which would be the theme song of every teenage male virgins throughout the States. The song had teenage boys laughing hysterically every time they listened to it. And, even though the song is not a Stones classic, it is worth remembering because of the fun it elicits. I really don’t remember how many times I sneaked this song into a dance mix to great effect. Nothing like a bunch of drunk college kids yelling the words of this song to each other.
Unfortunately, those were the only highlights, even though the album does end with a pretty good Keith Richards ballad that pleads for a girl not to dump him and he was sorry for the stupid shenanigans he put her through. This song is ironically called “All About You”, even though Richards never apologies nor says he won’t do something stupid again. It might represent the last time Richards sounded this good on a Stones album. But, at this point in his career, these were the type of songs at which he excelled.
But, honestly, outside of those three songs, the rest of the album seems like we all got shafted by the Stones. Maybe, that’s why I was moving toward punk and new wave music. At least they wouldn’t just rest on their laurels. That ended up coming when they all discovered the “joys” of drugs.
I should have realized that Emotional Rescue was going to be crappy. It had a free poster included in the album. Very few classic albums have posters, though Purple Rain did. That has always been a clue that someone was trying to make up for the crappy music on this new album your just plucked down ten bucks for.