Mick Jagger Jon Pareles - Essay

Jon Pareles

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Kicks just keep getting harder to find…. Not that the Rolling Stones care. Long ago, they realized that the pursuit of excess alone would be thankless. Younger, dumber bands—bands with no sense of style or sense of humor—would keep trying to raise the ante, resulting in pointless raunch playoffs. The Stones' purchase on high society, however, has given them the key: Attitude is everything. Keep that sneer on your lips, be a lowlife looking down from the heights of irony, and even sincerity can turn into a decadent thrill. Sleaze is the Stones' birthright, and on Some Girls they've set out to reclaim it….

There's just no warning that Some Girls rocks and rolls with the low-minded brilliance of the Stones at their best. By the end of side two, you're ready to smash windows, disturb the peace—any kind of flamboyant violence….

[Blame] it on New York City. Cut after cut … mentions the sleaze capital of the world. "Shattered," the perfect mixture of hysteria and cool … is an archetypal reaction to Big Apple pressure / pleasure…. In Manhattan, the penthouse and the gutter don't seem that far apart; the Stones can embrace or spurn each one in turn.

They take full advantage. There are putdowns ("Some Girls," "Respectable," "Lies") and straight reportage ("Shattered," "When the Whip Comes Down"), along with various poses of sincerity: "Miss You," "Imagination," "Beast of Burden." Jagger's attitude, vaguely cynical yet vaguely involved, makes the connection and gives each song some authority.

Jon Pareles, "Got What They Need," in Crawdaddy (copyright © 1978 by Crawdaddy Publishing Co., Inc.; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission), August, 1978, p. 74.