When The Rolling Stones released Some Girls in 1978 everybody was relieved: following some mediocre albums and years The Stones were back. That very same reaction was given after the release of 1981’s Tattoo You. The 1980 album Emotional Rescue was skipped and forgotten, even by The Stones themselves. Unjustly so.
En route to Emotional Rescue
Between 1968 and 1972 The Rolling Stones released fantastic albums, which are all categorized as their best work:
- Beggars Banquet (1968)
- Let It Bleed (1969)
- Sticky Fingers (1971)
- Exile On Main St. (1972)
In the meantime the beautiful compilation Through The Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2) and the outstanding live album Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! were also released. A golden era in the career of The Rolling Stones.
Unfortunately, it went downhill after that. It seemed as if the band thought it didn’t matter what they released, the end result would prove to be equally great. The albums Goats Head Soup, It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll, Black And Blue and the shabby live album Love You Live were watered-down versions of everything The Stones once represented.
Meanwhile the musical landscape had drastically changed. Disco, reggae and punk had emerged and The Stones were almost deemed irrelevant. It stung and it inspired the band to create the impressive Some Girls, its sound and intensity brought the band back to the forefront, the fire had returned. Following the release of Some Girls, recordings continued. The band went on a short tour in the summer of 1978 and they were back in the studio again at the beginning of 1979.
But, problems did exist. On February 17th, 1977, Keith Richards was arrested in his hotel room in Canada. It certainly wasn’t the first time his heroin addiction created trouble, but this time it was different. Richards’ problems had gotten completely out of control, and he knew it. He started alternative therapy as a means to relinquish his addiction. Richards and the band contemplated on a sentence that could be as high as 7 years of imprisonment, causing worries about the band’s future.
On October 24th 1978 Richards received his sentence. According to the judge addicts should be jailed if they committed crimes to satisfy their addiction or if they weren’t willing to kick their habit. Because of his wealth Richards didn’t fit in the first category and he had already enlisted for (successful) rehab. He was ordered to do a show for blind children in Canada. Rumor has it that the connection between The Rolling Stones (Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood in particular) and the wife of the Canadian prime minister, Margaret Trudeau (also the mother of the current Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau), influenced the remarkably lenient sentence.
On April 22nd, 1979, Richards fulfilled his obligation and brought along the rest of The Rolling Stones. In the meantime Richards’ relationship with Anita Pallenberg, his heroin partner for many years, was over and he had fallen in love with model Patti Hansen, who eventually became his new partner (and still is to this very day).
Meanwhile Mick Jagger was seen prancing around in the jet-set with his new girlfriend Jerry Hall. His wife, Bianca Jagger, subsequently filed for divorce, which was finalized on November 2nd, 1980. Charlie Watts was busy breeding sheep dog and Bill Wyman (even publicly) threatened to leave the band.
So what do you do when you’re The Rolling Stones? Record a new album of course.
The recording sessions for Emotional Rescue took place from:
- August 26th to September 6th, 1978, at the RCA Studios in Los Angeles
- January 22nd to February 12th and June 10th to July 7th, 1979, at the Compass Point Studios in Nassau on the Bahamas
- End of July to August 15th and September 12th to October 19th, 1979 at the Pathé Marconi Studios in Paris
From October 1979 to January 1980 overdubs were recorded and the album was mixed at the Electric Lady Studios in New York City. Some additional mixing was done in April at the same location. The production of the new songs was done by The Glimmer Twins (Mick Jagger and Keith Richards).
The band, particularly Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, felt reborn. After Some Girls they were ready to take on the world again. Dozens of songs were recorded by the band, of which many were relegated to their 1981 album Tattoo You. Many of the songs were played by the band members, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman, without enlisting outside help.
In March 1980 a first configuration of the album was compiled, followed by a second in May. Besides the songs that ultimately made the album, more songs were considered, such as Stuck In The Cold, Claudine, We Had It All, You Left Me, I Think I’m Going Mad, Ain’t No Use (In Crying), Neighbours and Stuck In The Cold. Two of them ended up on Tattoo You and another song from the same sessions, If I Was A Dancer (Dance Pt. 2), was released on the 1981 compilation album, Sucking In The Seventies.
On June 20th, 1980, the 15th (17th in the US) album by The Rolling Stones was released on their own Rolling Stones label. The album immediately shot to the top of the charts all around the world. The single Emotional Rescue helped the album a lot, it was a huge hit.
On June 26th a release party was organized for the press in New York, but critics were not impressed, at all. The preceding album was so good, how was it possible the band sounded so ‘weak’ now? Besides, wasn’t it about time to call it a day? The Rolling Stones were old, Mick Jagger was 36 (!) years old already, wasn’t it a bit pathetic to still run around and act like a rock star?
Perhaps the album was too diverse? Funk, disco, blues, punk, ballads, new wave, it has it all.
Personally, I love this album. Songs like the funky Dance (Pt. 1), the reggae pastiche Send It To me, the rocking Where The Boys Go, the impressive blues of Down In The Hole and the contagious disco of Emotional Rescue can not be played too often.
Unfortunately, both ballads, Indian Girl and the Keith Richards sung All About You, are below par. Particularly Indian Girl, telling the tale of a child victim of war and violence, is misplaced. The rich rock star who states that “Life just goes on and on, getting harder and harder”, isn’t very credible, it sounds downright self-righteous. Is All About You really about Anita Pallenberg, Richards’ former partner during his heroin filled days?
So, what did the band themselves think? In 1980 Jagger said: “I think people are misinterpreting Emotional Rescue. It’s just a lot of fun. A humorous, tongue-in-cheek record. It’s not supposed to be taken seriously.” and Keith added: “Emotional Rescue is sort of half Rolling Stones working within the basic mold, and the other half is trying out things.”.
In 1995 Jagger said: “It doesn’t have the resonance of Some Girls. You know, Emotional Rescue is a lot of leftovers from Some Girls. Really.”, in 2002 followed by: “I don’t think Emotional Rescue was as coherent a bunch of sessions as Some Girls. All the fast, punk things had gone by then. We were doing more of the dance thing.”. Many shared Jagger’s opinion, but I disagree. I think the trilogy Some Girls, Emotional Rescue and Tattoo You proved to be the last high for The Rolling Stones. It went downhill from then on, even though I really like the Undercoveralbum.
Peter Corriston designed the cover for Emotional Rescue, that consisted of thermo graphical photos made by Roy Adzak. The same technique was used for the videos accompanying the album’s singles, but those were re-recorded some time later. Probably the band wasn’t too satisfied with the end result. I can only assume they had the same feelings towards the album cover, which is rather hideous.
Two singles were culled from the album:
- Emotional Rescue
(released on June 20th, 1980)
- She’s So Cold
(released on September 22nd, 1980)
All songs written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, except Dance (Pt. 1), co-written by Ronnie Wood.
- Dance (Pt. 1)
- Summer Romance
- Send It To Me
- Let Me Go
- Indian Girl
- Where The Boys Go
- Down In The Hole
- Emotional Rescue
- She’s So Cold
- All About You
- Mick Jagger – vocals, guitar, background vocals, piano, percussion
- Keith Richards – guitar, background vocals, bass, piano and vocals on All About You
- Bill Wyman – bass, synthesizer
- Charlie Watts – drums
- Ronnie Wood – guitar, bass, pedal steel, background vocals, saxophone
- Ian Stewart – piano, percussion
- Nicky Hopkins – keyboards
- Sugar Blue – harmonica
- Bobby Keys – saxophone
- Michael Shrieve – percussion
- Max Romeo – background vocals on Dance (Pt. 1)
I like the diversity on Emotional Rescue, the album that made The Rolling Stones sound relaxed and on which they tried something else with great results.
What do you think? Let me know!
This story contains an accompanying video. Click on the following link to see it: Video: Emotional Rescue, the forgotten Rolling Stones album. The A Pop Life playlist on Spotify has been updated as well.
The Rolling Stones – Emotional Rescue vinyl image: vinyl-records.nl
The Rolling Stones (Annie Leibovitz) 1980 image: iorr.org
The Rolling Stones – Canada 04/22/1979 image: yesterdayspapersoftherollingstones.blogspot
The Rolling Stones 1980 Ad image: pinterest.com
The Rolling Stones – Emotional Rescue image: recordhub.com
The Rolling Stones – Emotional Rescue – Singles image: dutchcharts.nl
The Rolling Stones – Emotional Rescue – Ad Billboard 07/12/1980 image: rockrollnewspaperpresshistory.blogspot.com
The Rolling Stones – Emotional Rescue – Gold record image: gottahaverockandroll.com