Dirty Work

24th March 1986
  LP  (CBS 86321).

CD- May 1986 ( Columbia 45333 - CBS 4657522) 

 Producers: The Glimmer Twins & Steve Lillywhite.

Highest Charts Position : US 3 - UK 2

Contributing musicians: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Ron Wood, Chuck Leavell, Bobby Womack, Ian Stewart, Don Covay, Ivan Neville, Anton Fig, Steve Jordan, Jimmy Page, Alan Rogan, Charley Drayton, Philippe Saisse, Dan Collette, John Regan, Tom Waits, Jimmy Cliff, Patti Scialfa, Kirsty MacColl, Janice Pendarvis, Dollette McDonald.

                       - One Hit (MJ/KR/RW)
                       - Fight (MJ/KR/RW)
                       - Harlem Shuffle (Bob Relf/Earl Nelson)
                       - Hold Back (MJ/KR)
                       - Too Rude (Lydon Roberts)
                       - Winning Ugly (MJ/KR)
                       - Back To Zero (MJ/KR/Chuck Leavell)
                       - Dirty Work (MJ/KR/RW)
                       - Had It With You (MJ/KR/RW)
                       - Sleep Tonight (MJ/KR)
                       - Key To The Highway (Big Bill Broonzy/Charles Segar) -STU only, uncredited
                            tribute of unknown origin

Key To The Highway (Little Walter) ­ A favorite of the late Ian Stewart, whose barrelhouse piano version was heard as the fade to the "Dirty Work" album. The Stones played this at the "invitation only" show that served as Stewart's wake ­ their only performance of 1986. Keith remembers meeting up with Stewart for the first time ­ unsure of where the rehearsal room was, he followed the sound of Stewart's boogie-woogie piano playing and came upon Ian Stewart, dressed in a shirt and a pair of leather alpine style shorts playing flawless blues piano while keeping a watchful eye on his bicycle, which was parked out on the corner! At its best, Dirty Work captures the friction between Mick and Keith during the album's recording; at its worst, it's simply a competent collection of hard rock, spiked with some unnecessary synthesizers.

Recording date:

 10th September - 15th October 1985 New York, RPM Studios & 15th November - 5th December: Right Track Studios.
                  Producers: The Glimmer Twins & Steve Lillywhite.  Sound engineer: Dave Jerden.
                 - Back To Zero II (MJ/KR/Chuck Leavell) -Dirty Work-version
                 - Dirty Work III (MJ/KR/RW) -Dirty Work-version
                 - Fight IV (MJ/KR/RW) -Dirty Work-version
                 - Had It With You III (MJ/KR/RW) -’Dirty Work’-version
                 - Harlem Shuffle IV (Bob Relf/Ernest Nelson) -Dirty Work-version
                 - Hold Back II (MJ/KR) -Dirty Work-version
                 - One Hit V (MJ/KR/RW) -Dirty Work-version
                 - Sleep Tonight III (MJ/KR) -Dirty Work-version
                 - Too Rude IV (Lydon Roberts/Sly Dunbar/Robbie Shakespeare) -Dirty Work-version
                 - Winning Ugly III (MJ/KR) -Dirty Work-version



(It')s very nice to be back with the familiar faces, back to all the jokes you have and the grooves and tunes you can say Let's do that one! There's hundreds of tunes that the band can play. So that's nice... There's a certain tension at the beginning of any recording session. Even if it's the Stones. How's it going to work out? Until you get something under your belt you're a little nervous.

- Mick Jagger, January 1985

It started off kind of slow but that's because we hadn't played together for a while, and we live in different countries. So, it's like, Hello, mate! What's you been doing? How's the wife? How's the kids? Oh, the kid passed some test at school, you know, you get all that jive. And then you just sit around and jam for 3 weeks or something, play a lot of early blues and '50s stuff, Eddie Cochran, Muddy Waters blues. You just play anything that comes into anybody's head. And you just JAM and get your chops back in. And then you start laying down rough ideas for songs. And then you just go through those and then you slowly pick out and play odd demos more and more and more...

- Bill Wyman, 1985

The great thing about Ronnie and me is that we really don't stop working. We're pretty much around the corner from each other all the time, and he LOVES playing. So we've made a point in the last year or two - this is what I mean, we did our last tour THREE YEARS ago - of going around to each other's place 2 or 3 nights a week and play. That way, we've kept the playing and the ideas flowing, so that there's much more CONTINUITY in the things we're doing. At least that's what I feel: we didn't just arrive cold turkey to start this record. The only difference was changing from acoustic to electric. It took me a couple of weeks to get used to the POWER of an electric guitar, especially full blast in the studio.

- Keith Richards, 1985

We messed around for weeks because Mick was still buggering around with his solo album instead of working with us. He would fly back to London in the middle of it which, I might add, is a thing that nobody else has ever done, because when it's Stones work, everybody drops solo projects. It kind of caused a bit of resentment in the band.

- Bill Wyman, 1985

(On the) Dirty Work album, Mick and Keith were at a low writing ebb, and they gladly accepted my songs.

- Ron Wood, 1998

Mick and I suddenly realized that it had been a long time since we'd had a real outside influence in the studio helping produce records - ever since Jimmy Miller left in 1973, really. Mick and I talked about it. We had Dave Jerden - Bill Laswell (who co-produced 6 songs on Mick's solo album She's The Boss)'s guy - engineering. He and Steve Lillywhite turned out to be an incredible team. The first day Steve walked into the studio, I said, Maybe you don't want to be the meat in this sandwich. But he handled every aspect superbly. It was very interesting to watch him build up respect from the band. It didn't take him very long to establish his credentials. He didn't jump up and down. We might do a great take and he'd say, Okay, that's it. None of this raving about, which would have been embarrassing for everybody. He was very cool. It didn't take long before everybody was going Yup (mimics nodding and winking). Surprisingly enough, we were LISTENING to this young kid!

- Keith Richards, 1985

They'd done about 3 months in Paris when they got me in. I started in May. When I got there 75% of the songs had been written. A few more came out after I got there. I think I brought them together and played on the strength of the what the band has. After a few weeks working with people you find out who does their best work when. I found that all of them were pretty good early on: first, second or third take. It was really a case of keeping the early ones and remembering where all the good bits were. It got a bit crazy, so you had to log things in your mind. The sessions were always based on work and jamming. It wasn't as if everyone stopped if one of them wasn't there. They'd always be playing. If Mick wasn't there, Keith might sing. If Charlie wasn't there, Ronnie might do some drums.

- Steve Lillywhite, co-producer, 1985

In the end I tried to keep it as basic as I could, 'cause that was what fit the music. Why change something if you know when it's right it's good? Normally Charlie would be the happiest when he worked out his own groove. Sometimes I actually got him to play MORE cymbals, accent a few things more. He'd play them and look in the control room at me.

- Steve Lillywhite, 1985

Steve would encourage us, arrangement-wise, to put in a break. Whereas by ourselves we might try it once, say, It's too much goddamn trouble, and just steamroll through it. He'd encourage us to get it right. It's dynamics. When you don't use a producer those are the things you allow to escape. It's just too much trouble to play it and be in the control room listening to it. When you're leaping about doing two jobs at once, dynamics and arrangements are the first things that suffer... Speaking for myself, this is one of the best teams I've ever worked with, Dave Jerden and Steve. THEY haven't worked together before either, so that magical mixture, the chemistry behind the board, has been one of those things that comes along for the Stones once in a while, like with Miller for Beggars Banquet.

- Keith Richards, 1985

When we were mixing in New York, Steve Lillywhite changed the speed in one song, sped it up a little bit, and it was hardly anything. Keith walked in and he just went ballistic. He goes Nobody, fucking nobody, fucks with the Rolling Stones! That tempo was cut at that speed and it stays at that speed!

- Dave Jerden, engineer

Keith had a baby in the middle of the sessions, and Charlie cut his hand opening a miniature bottle. We didn't think we could drum for some weeks. All the frustrated drummers in the band thought, Now's my chance! and rushed to the drum kit. Mick would keep a rhythm going, and Simon Kirke (of Bad Company) played a bit. But nothing he did was used on the album. No, Simon has been coming along to Stones sessions as a mate for years. If you recall, Charlie came home from Paris because he damaged his hand, and had to rest. When he got to the airport, the press jumped on this absurd story that he'd walked out on the sessions and wasn't going back. It had absolutely nothing to do with that.

- Bill Wyman, 1985

I also still play a lot of bass (with the Stones) - four numbers on Dirty Work.

- Ron Wood, 1988

The record took a year to make, and it was hard. It wasn't an easy record to make. Mick and Keith were at loggerheads at times.

- Dave Jerden

I thought they were going to break up. They were having a lot of problems, a couple of the guys were stretched out, probably Charlie more than anybody at that time. They were working separately... The peacemaker that kept that group together, as far as I'm concerned, was Ronnie. He just had that extra spirit and life that it takes to be in a band. Plus he was younger, he had the energy, and he was willing to take the beating and be the fall guy for whatever that went down.

- Bobby Womack

I... it's strange, 'cause I usually like to talk about an album I've just made, but with this, I just feel as though I don't want to say so much. It is Keith's album to a great extent. I mean, he wrote those songs because of Mick's solo commitments. I would definitely say it was a Keith Richards-inspired record. Mick did a little bit as well, but all you need to put about this is that it was a Keith Richards-inspired record.

- Steve Lillywhite, 1985

Let's put it like this. It's a Stones album. If I've had a little more to do with it and a little more control over this one, it's the same to me as the middle-70s when Mick would cover my ass when I was out of it. Because of the timing of Mick's solo album, he wasn't there as much as the rest of us in the beginning when the mood was getting set. In that sense, yes, I took over the job. The same way he would do if it happened to me. We cover each other's ass. We've done it very well for each other over the years.

- Keith Richards, 1985


In most respects I'm happy with the album but it's not my album. It's OUR album. So there's obviously things I see differently. So does everybody. Of course I haven't been involved in the final decisions. It's always been like that with this band. In the old days, we were all there and got too many opinions. I mean, I would've liked more bass on this album. I would've mixed it differently. But it's not my album and Mick and Keith are the coproducers. That's the way they want it, that's the way the get it. But I genuinely like it, I'm just picking hairs. All my work was done in Paris in 5 or 6 months. I did come to New York in August to do some tidying up - editing 10-minute songs into 4-minute songs to the point where my original bass line was gone, so I had to redo it. From then on, Mick might come up with better lyrics and a song I knew in Paris as Dirty Dog might be released as Back in the USA or something. My job is as bass player. That's what I do. Also some synths maybe. But I don't mix, master, or choose the LP covers. If someone PUSHED themselves in situations like that, this band wouldn't be around any longer. It would have folded up 15 years ago. You can't have too many egos in the same band. You gotta just swallow your pride. We know who's who in this band, and it works well that way. We're all trying to make the best record. Besides, the songs really choose themselves. Out of 30 songs we record, the best 7 will just rise to the top. Then there's the narrow gray area, so we'll start saying, Oh, let's save this slow one when we need a slow one, 'cause we have too many here.

- Bill Wyman, 1985

I wanted to put out a real STONES album, which we always manage to do in odd periods. This was a real concentrated effort. We left a lot of good stuff, interesting stuff, in the can because everyone wanted to - if we could, if it could be done again - make a classic Stones record with certain themes that have recurred over the years, both musically and lyrically... The fact that everyone has been active has given this record much more of an edge, more of a defined FEEL as the Rolling Stones, because we didn't have to go in there and start from ground zero. It has a sort of coherence about it, more than anything since maybe Some Girls, for me.

- Keith Richards, 1985

I think Dirty Work is a great record but, I mean, there are other things to do in life (besides go on tour).

- Mick Jagger, 1986

This is the first album in a new contract. We'd be IDIOTS (not to tour behind it). It'd be the dumbest move in the world not to get behind it. We've got a GOOD album here! Spent a year making it and putting our backs to the wall. Why toss it away?

- Keith Richards, 1986

Dirty Work I built pretty much on the same idea as Some Girls, in that it was made with the absolute idea that it would go on the road. So when we finished the record and then... the POWERS THAT BE - let's put it like that (laughs) - decided suddenly they AIN'T gonna go on the road behind it, the team was left in the lurch. Because if you didn't follow it up with some roadwork, you'd only done 50 percent of the job. (The album didn't do all that well because) there was no promotion behind it. As it came out, everyone sort of said, Well, they've broken up or They're not gonna work. So you got a lot of negativity behind it.

- Keith Richards, 1988

The album wasn't that good. It was OKAY. It certainly wasn't a great Rolling Stones album. The feeling inside the band was very bad, too. The relationships were terrible. The health was diabolical. I wasn't in particularly good shape. The rest of the band, they couldn't walk across the Champs Elysées, much less go on the road.

- Mick Jagger, 1989

(It's n)ot special.

- Mick Jagger, 1995

Touring Dirty Work would have been a nightmare. It was a terrible period. Everyone was hating each other so much: there were so many disagreements. It was very petty; everyone was so out of their brains, and Charlie was in seriously bad shape. When the idea of touring came up, I said, I don't think it's gonna work. In retrospect I was 100% right. It would have been the worst Rolling Stones tour. Probably would have been the end of the band... (Charlie was doing drugs and drinking.) Keith the same. Me the same. Ronnie - I don't know what Ronnie was doing. We just got fed up with each other. You've got a relationship with musicians that depends on what you produce together. But when you don't produce, you get bad reactions - bands break up. You get difficult periods, and that was one of them.

- Mick Jagger, 1995


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