11th July 1994
CD (Virgin Records CDV 2750).
Producer: Don Was & The Glimmer Twins.
Sound engineer: Don Smith.
Recorded in St. Kildare, Ireland, Sandymount Studios 9th July - 6th August and early September 1993
in Dublin, Ireland, Windmill Studios 3rd November - 11th December 1993
and in Los Angeles, California, Don Was’ studio & A&M Recording Studios 15th January - 23rd April 1994
Contributing musicians: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ron Wood, Darryl Jones, Chuck Leavell, Bernard Fowler, Ivan Neville, Benmont Tench, Lenny Castro, Luis Jardim, David McMurray, Mark Isham, Phil Jones, Flaco Jimenez, Max Baca, Frankie Gavin, Pierre de Beauport, Bobby Womack, David Campbell (arranger).
Love Is Strong (MJ/KR)
- You Got Me Rocking (MJ/KR)
- Sparks Will Fly (MJ/KR)
- The Worst (MJ/KR)
- New Faces (MJ/KR)
- Moon Is Up (MJ/KR)
- Out Of Tears (MJ/KR)
- I Go Wild (MJ/KR)
- Brand New Car (MJ/KR)
- Sweethearts Together (MJ/KR)
- Suck On The Jugular (MJ/KR)
- Blinded By Rainbows (MJ/KR)
- Baby Break It Down (MJ/KR)
- Thru And Thru (MJ/KR)
- Mean Disposition (MJ/KR)
Funny that the much-touted "reunion/comeback" album Steel Wheels followed Dirty Work by just three years, while it took the Stones five years to turn out its sequel, Voodoo Lounge -- a time frame that seems much more appropriate for a "comeback." To pile on the irony, Voodoo Lounge feels more like a return to form than its predecessor, even if it's every bit as calculated and Bill Wyman has flown the coup. With Don Was, a neo-classic rock producer that always attempts to reclaim his artist's original claim to greatness, helming the boards with the Glimmer Twins, the Stones strip their sound back to its spare, hard-rocking basics. The Stones act in kind, turning out a set of songs that are pretty traditionalist. There are no new twists or turns in either the rockers or ballads (apart maybe from the quiet menace of "Thru and Thru," later used to great effect on The Sopranos), even if they revive some of the English folk and acoustic country-blues that was on Beggars Banquet. Still, this approach works, because they are turning out songs that may not be classics, but are first-rate examples of the value of craft. If this was released 10 years, even five years earlier, this would be a near-triumph of classicist rock, but since Voodoo Lounge came out in the CD age, it's padded out to 15 tracks, five of which could have been chopped to make the album much stronger. Instead, it runs on for nearly an hour, an ironically bloated length for an album whose greatest strengths are its lean, concentrated classic sound and songcraft. Still, it makes for a stronger record than its predecessor.
15th January - 23rd April 1994 Los Angeles, Don Was’ private
studio and A&M Recording Studios.
Producer: Don Was & The Glimmer Twins. Sound engineer: Don Smith.
- Baby Break It Down V (MJ/KR) -Voodoo Lounge-version
- Blinded By Rainbows IV (MJ/KR) -Voodoo Lounge-version
- Brand New Car IV (MJ/KR) -Voodoo Lounge-version
- Love Is Strong IV (MJ/KR) -Voodoo Lounge-version
- Mean Disposition III (MJ/KR) -Voodoo Lounge-version
- Moon Is Up IV (MJ/KR) -Voodoo Lounge-version
- New Faces III (MJ/KR) -Voodoo Lounge-version
- Out Of Tears IV (MJ/KR) -Voodoo Lounge-version
- Sparks Will Fly V (MJ/KR) -Voodoo Lounge-version
- Suck On The Jugular III (MJ/KR) -Voodoo Lounge-version
- Sweethearts Together VI (MJ/KR) -Voodoo Lounge-version
- Thru And Thru VIII (MJ/KR) -Voodoo Lounge-version
- The Worst IV (MJ/KR) -Voodoo Lounge-version
- You Got Me Rocking V (MJ/KR) -Voodoo Lounge-version
late April 1994(date unsure): New York City, Right Track Studios.
Producer: Don Was & The Glimmer Twins.
Sound engineer: Bob Clearmountain.
- I Go Wild III (MJ/KR) -Voodoo Lounge-version
While recording in Dublin, Keith put up a cardboard sign on the studio door which read "Dox Office - and Voodoo Lounge", Keith being the doctor and Voodoo being the name he had given to a stray cat he had adopted.The record company's screaming at us, We need a title, an angle, artwork. Then, suddenly, Mick turns around and says, Your sign.
I'm the doc. It's like a ritual, a fetish... We agonized over (the title). And it was staring us in the face. Finally, it was
Mick who said, What about Voodoo Lounge? Why not? Kind of like Beggars Banquet. Right number of syllables. I was really pissed with myself, though, after painting the sign and all. I'm usually the one with the cheap ideas, not Mick. His are usually real expensive.
I was ready to kill Bill Wyman. How dare you? NOBODY leaves. Especially from that end of the band. I kind of appreciated Bill in a way, later. He was being true to himself. He really didn't want to do it. And it was a chance to put a new engine in down there.
(T)he kindest light I can put on it is that Bill bowed out gracefully because he couldn't guarantee that 100% anymore. And on top of that I know that he - I don't know, to me, idiotically - developed an incredible fear of flying.
(T)his album is different in that we spent a lot of time writing the songs and playing before we went into the studio. Much more than we had probably done for years and years. We started in April (1993) in Barbados, with nothing more than week off here and there. And then we went to Ireland - Ronnie's house, where he has a little studio. We were there from June until (September), and then we went into the studio in Dublin. And I think it's paid off, that the band is really playing together.
A lot (of the arrangements) were worked out before (we went into the studio). We would revise them also in the studio; we would change them, shorten them. I know in my own mind what I think should be happening, but I leave them open just in case someone comes along with a really good idea. I don't want to be close-minded, because sometimes people come up with really good ideas. If you think, Oh, it's going to go this way, you've closed your mind up to them.
We promised not to scare the horses. So Keith (was) only playing on Volume 8.
The only cloud on the horizon last year, putting all this together, was changing the bass playing. You know, 30 years, the same rhythm section - this is a major upheaval. But in actual fact, it went smooth. We played with a lot of great guys, and eventually I said to Charlie, You decide... And he said, You bastard, you put me in the hot seat! And I said, Yeah, for ONCE, Charlie, once in 30 years, you're going to be the supreme judge on this. Mick and I will say what we think. Because they were all such good players and hey, you're playing a couple of hours with a guy and then another. It's so difficult to tell... So to get to that question - why Darryl (Jones) - I think that 5 years (playing) with Miles Davis didn't hurt as far as Charlie Watts is concerned! Because Charlie, being a jazz drummer himself, you know... I mean, to Charlie, rock and roll is part of jazz, and it still has to swing. So in a way one of the best decisions I made last year was to leave the actual choice up to Charlie.
A few hours before I auditioned, a friend who worked with the Stones called and said, Okay, they are probably going to play through this and this. So I just brushed up on those tunes a little bit, and I went in and played. Even from the beginning, though, I didn't go in thinking, Hey, play this like Bill Wyman played. I just learned the songs and played what I thought should be in those places. When I arrived, all of the guys were very, very nice. They really made me feel comfortable from the beginning.
Someone as talented as Darryl (Jones) could play anything... With us, he's very quick to pick things up, very much a rhythm section within a rhythm section. He doesn't play on top of the rhythm; he's underneath it, which is what we need, really. Foundation. You can't have someone playing over the top, because there's no room then. There's nothing at the bottom and no room for anybody else. So I actually find him very comfortable to play with.
To me, (Don Was is) very much like working with Jimmy Miller, who's a producer but also a musician. To the Stones, it's a real extra plus to have a guy that knows how things are played, what's done. And Don's real contribution was, You've got a hundred songs here. We have to choose! (Laughs). You know, Let's cut this list down by half to start with, and then eliminate, because there was just songs coming up. We had more and more stuff, you know, and we were in danger of just being buried in an avalanche of material. And it was his job to hone down that. Also I had Don Smith engineering, the guy that did the two Winos records, as well. So I had a team going there that was very well used to working with each other. Don Was, the new guy, slotted in beautifully and handled the personal stuff really well. Just keep your mind on what you're doing, you know. The atmosphere was very much Exile On Main Street, actually. I can't think of sessions since where things were quite that loose and free, and ideas were popping up.
I think (both Jimmy Miller and Don Was) have eyes for a good song - ears for a good song, I should say. Jimmy was a drummer, so he's much more into the drum grooves than Don. Don was more into arrangements than drum grooves.
For me, most of this record was done laying tracks down with everybody playing. Everybody played, we learned the song, and we cut it. We'd come in the next day and see if we could beat the take we did yesterday. By this time everyone is learning the song better, and different things start to happen when we play it.
(With Voodoo Lounge, we tried to make) a more human record, (and get away from) the slick sound of the '80s. At the moment, it's more fashionable to be like that, to be human.
(The goal was to) not just sound like the Stones, but BE them. Like I told Mick, You gotta play a lot of harp. Because with the Stones, that was one of the original instruments. And his phrasing is so uncanny on the harp. If that can roll over onto the vocals... After all (laughs), it's just pushing air out of your mouth.
(T)he more that (Mick) plays (the harmonica), the more differently he sings. Suddenly he starts to sing the way he's playing the harp, phrasing differently, instead of thinking of it as two separate entities, you know... And he played all year. He would do 2 hours a day with Charlie, just playing harp, before we'd even come into rehearsal or whatever. And I can hear it paying off a lot in his singing too... I think by getting him to play harp, we're back, because I love the way he's singing now. I'd say, Wow! The man's back. He's got confidence, you know.
I did a lot of playing along with blues bands (on record for this album) - mostly dead, unfortunately. You know, old records. I would come to the rehearsals in Ireland and for an hour I would just put up CDs of old, like, Muddy (Waters) records and stuff, and play with them. And if they had harmonicas on them, I'd play along with that. If they didn't I'd still play and get a really good sound.
And Charlie Watts (was) moving his drums, which is unheard of... He would work (in) the staircase, you know. And that's something that Charlie hasn't done, I think, since Beggars Banquet or maybe Exile. It's been that long since I've had that much input from Charlie. That was amazing. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that he's been doing his own thing with Bernard Fowler, you know. He's taken that jazz band around... So he came back with a whole new perspective on what it's like when the buck stops here.
The Edge's guitar man, Dallas Schoo, gave my roadie Church a big compliment yesterday. He rang up and said, Oh, man, who's playing that (pedal) steel on the album? Did you get someone in from Nashville?... Didn't sound like Nashville to me, but he thought they brought a pro in, you know, who just does that... Don Was is very encouraging, he'd suggest, Hey, how about a pedal on this one? How about a lap? I would be thinking it, but I thought, No, it wouldn't get used. Don would say it once, and everyone goes along with it. He's so easy to work with.
(Keith is similar to Miles Davis)... (A) lot of times I would want to go back and redo stuff with Miles, and he just would trust the integrity of the first thing that I played. He just wouldn't allow you to do things, even when you were so sure you were right about wanting to change that. He would be against you. Keith is similar. He just decides, Well, no. We're gonna do that a different way. It's a kind of visionary thing. Miles and Keith could see past the neatness of the track into how all of those little quirks really make a difference. They make it looser and wilder and more human, in a way.
(There's more separation between the guitars then there's been lately.) I think just more direction, really. That came from Don Was and Don Smith, and also me working with the Winos, working with Waddy (Wachtel). In actual fact, there's quite a lot of guitars on those tracks, but the separation... There may be 6 guitars on some of those tracks, but they're not on all the time. You know, they'll be shifting. Two of them will be almost identical, but one will just do better for a certain lick in one place, and we just pull it up. So there's a lot of that. It's just a very well disciplined album, sound-wise. And I think in the '80s, too, it was very difficult. A lot of the stuff, the material that Mick wanted to do, was not particularly guitar-oriented.
This album is full of things that we used to do well and have deliberately not done, because the Stones are always wary of repeating themselves obviously. We're the guys that don't play Satisfaction onstage very often, you know?
Steel Wheels, you know, that was the miracle that it ever came back together, you know. Cause that was the hump that a band goes through. I guess Voodoo Lounge... consolidated that.
Voodoo Lounge I really enjoyed making. It's a good record... Steel Wheels was a good beginning and Voodoo Lounge came up from there.
The interviewer states Voodoo Lounge is similar to Beggars Banquet and Exile on Main Street. Well, that's nice to hear! That's what I was aiming for, you know, but that was a pretty high sight, so I didn't know if it would make it. It's nice to start hearing that. I knew it had to be a special one. The whole point of this going through Steel Wheels and getting back together, and then we have to build on that - it's like starting again, you know. Especially with Bill leaving.
I don't know if Steel Wheels is better than Voodoo Lounge, actually. I don't think there's a huge difference of quality between the two albums. I wish there was, but I'm afraid, in the end, I don't think there is... Perhaps if the Voodoo Lounge album had been more successful commercially, I might have agreed (that Voodoo Lounge was better), because commercial success changes everything. It colors your opinions. If it had sold 5 million albums, I'd be saying to you, It's definitely better than Steel Wheels.
Well, I don't want to trash it because I think it's got some good sounding things. I wasn't really passionate about it. I try to be at the time, but in retrospect... I always love them when I do them. I always think they're the best thing ever.
It's very much a kind of time-and-place album. In that way I was quite pleased with the results. But there were a lot of things that we wrote for Voodoo Lounge that Don (Was) steered us away from: groove songs, African influences and things like that. And he steered us away very clear of all that. And I think it was a mistake... He tried to remake Exile on Main Street or something like that. Plus, the engineer (Don Smith) was also trying to do the same thing. Their mind-set about it was just too retro. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it inherently, but they went over the top; they'd gone too far... I didn't really fight it in the end. I gave up because there was no point in it. I think both Charlie and I didn't really like it, but we could see that that was the direction you could go, and it might be successful. I don't think it really was that successful, because I don't think there's any point in having these over-retro references. I think it was an opportunity missed to go in another direction, which would have been more unusual, a little more radical, although it's always going to sound like the Rolling Stones.
(I don't think we met all our expectations for this album, n)ot completely. But maybe we should list the positive things rather than the negative. I think there is a really good feeling of the band on it - that the band is playing very much as a band, even though it's got one new member. There's a good variety of songs. It's not over elaborate. You get a feeling of really being there, and it's quite intimate in nature. The ballads are rather nice, and then the rock & roll numbers kick quite well and sound enthusiastic - like we're into it. I think it's a good frame of reference of what the Rolling Stones were about during that quite limited time in Ireland in that year.
The reality is, you don't compare it to Beggars Banquet. That's not what it's about. You're setting the precedent for what happens to a band after 30 years
Back To Discografy