Mick Jagger Michael Watts - Essay

Michael Watts

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The public's idée fixe of the Stones as ageing enfants terribles is a problem Jagger seems slyly to acknowledge on "Dance", the first track of "Emotional Rescue", when he sings "I think the time's come to get up, get out—out into something new". The joke, of course—which is implicit in the sheer bounce of the music—is that the Stones patently have no intention of doing any such thing.

"Emotional Rescue" is largely a familiar mixture of affectionate disrespect—for the musics of country, blues, reggae and other rock ingredients—and the personal affectations of Jagger, who at one moment is assuming a cod Spanish accent ("Indian Girl") and at another a Barry Gibbs falsetto (the title track)….

There were several good things on "Black And Blue" ("Hand Of Fate", "Memory Motel") and a half dozen on "Some Girls", their best album since "Exile On Main Street" in 1972. But having become hostages to their own celebrity, lacking genuine rapport (and, therefore, social context) with a young audience that mistrusts showbiz-type stars, the Stones now make music whose overall mood is playful and ironic where once its effect was urgent and cutting….

[The] emphasis of the Stones' current music is to be found in Jagger's stance: his nous for what is fashionable (surely the impulse behind "Some Girls"'s disco-style classic, "Miss You"), his throwaway humour and a dumbness that comes across virtually as camp.

Michael Watts, "An Institution Strikes Back," in Melody Maker (© IPC Business Press Ltd.), June 28, 1980, p. 13.