Between Love & Hate (Dog N Cat DAC-118)
Le Studio, Montreal, Quebec, Canada – August 15th to September, 1987
(79:41): How I Wish I, Struggle I, Locked Away I, What She Wanted, Breakin’, It Means A Lot I, Almost Hear You Sigh I, Almost Hear You Sigh II, She Put The Mark On Me. “Saturday Night Live,” NBC-TV, Studio 8H, New York, NY – October 8th, 1988: Take It So Hard, Struggle
After the release of Dirty Work in 1986 a disturbing silence fell over The Rolling Stones. Although downplayed in the press at the time (except by Keith Richards who would be interviewed on television looking like a lost puppy), the lack of promotion for the new album and the increased activity of their side projects indicated that the band was put on ice for the time being.
Mick Jagger’s Primitive Cool was slagged by the press in late 1987, but Richards’ Talk Is Cheap, released several months later, managed to upstage Jagger by pulling in very positive reviews. The good reviews were deserved. Not only did it capture the vibe of the best of the Stones, it also was much more eclectic utilizing reggae and styles the Stones would never touch such as swing and do wop.
In one of the supreme ironies in the history of rock music, the front man who wanted a solo career was upstaged by the guitarist who didn’t.
Richards began writing the album in spring, 1987 in New York and recorded it at Le Studio in Montreal in the late summer. There was a long period of mixing in New York, Memphis and Bermuda before it was officially released in October, 1988. Talk Is Cheap peaked at #37 in the UK and #24 in the US, where it went gold. He followed this up with an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” and a tour with the X-Pensive Winos.
Between Love & Hate offers tracks from that session. The first five tracks on this disc, from “How I Wish” to “It Means A Lot,” first surfaced on the LP Between Love & Hate (OBR 305 011). Previous CD releases of this material are Breakin’ (Terrapin Records TR201) and Tell Me What You Wanna Hear (Duck Production DP004). Both are inferior copies from high generation, hissy tapes and running at the wrong pitch.
The sound quality on the DAC is very good, much better than has been out before and is close to definitive status. The five songs from the LP are supplemented with three other tracks and the television performance.
The first track is an instrumental run through of “How I Wish.” Soon after the album’s release Richards said “Actually, that was the first track we recorded. The more I got into it, the more I realized that I didn’t have to keep verses and choruses the same length.”
“How I Wish” runs almost the same length as the studio recording without vocal or guitar overdubs.
“Struggle,” on the other hand, is an eight minute long jam. Richards’ method of recording a song includes letting the tape run with the hope of picking up some inspirational magic from the session. Although it includes the lyrics, it is extended with several more instrumental passages of Keith and the band looking for the perfect solo break.
It is followed by a semi-instrumental rehearsal of “Locked Away.” It is one of the more interesting tracks on Talk Is Cheap because of the addition of the accordion and fiddle in the arrangement. These were part of the South African Soweto sound Richards was after. He found it “intriguing, because it seems to me that Africa, which produced the rhythms and heartbeats of American music and especially rock and roll, was now throwing it back to us again with electric instruments!”
This take doesn’t feature the added instruments, but is rather a starker affair with guitar, drums, bass, and vocals, and is played slightly slower than the official version. It retains its stark beauty, however, and remains one of his best songs.
“What She Wanted” is an unreleased, two and a half minute long blues featuring raucous piano. It sounds more like a warm up than a polished outtake.
More substantial and interesting is “Breakin’.” This track lasts twelve minutes and forty-one seconds and is a distant relation to “How I Wish.” The basic melody can be picked out during the long session. This was probably the first thing recorded for Talk Is Cheap. Over the course of the jam, many different styles of solos are tried out including keyboard horns.
The final song on the LP is “It Means A Lot,” which Richards described at the time as having “a weird structure to it. … But that effect is all deliberate. The only way to make that song work was to shift it all around and the more I did, the more confident I felt about doing things like that.” The instrumental contains the song’s unique syncopated melody and has some lyrics, but lacks the other musician’s input into the arrangement.
DAC adds two takes of “Almost Hear You Sigh.” This was recorded during the same sessions, but wouldn’t be polished and included on the album. Richards would bring it to the The Rolling Stones’ Steel Wheel sessions in 1989. With input from Mick Jagger, it would become a Grammy Award nominated song. True to Richards’ composing method, the two takes are both very long, clocking in at over eight minutes for the first and nine for the second.
At this early stage, it confirms his assessment that “I played it very much like ‘Beast of Burden.’ In fact, it was TOO much like it, so I called it ‘Cousin of Beast of Burden.'” Its relation to the Some Girls track is unmistakable in these early sessions. He tried various solos and even uses keyboards at one point. More development can be heard years later on Training Wheels (Social Graces 001/002) before it was finally released.
The final studio track is “She Put The Mark On Me.” It lasts almost fifteen minutes, hitting the mid-tempo groove under Keith’s slashing guitar and synthesized horn section. It has tremendous potential but even at this stage it sounds extremely dated.
The final two tracks are the two Keith Richards and the X-Pensive Winos songs on “Saturday Night Live” of October 8th, 1988. Played in the NBC studios in New York, this episode was the season 14 premier with guest host Tom Hanks. Richards gives raw but enthusiastic versions of “Take It So Hard” and “Struggle.”
Over the past couple of years Dog N Cat have issued superior titles with the vast amounts of Rolling Stones outtakes, rehearsals and studio sessions. Between Love & Hate, their first focusing upon solo material, continues the trend, offering a nice upgrade over previously available tracks.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)