Sunday, December 26, 2010

Keith Richards 2: Main Offender

Another Stones lull made way for the return of the X-Pensive Winos. While Main Offender offered more of the same formula as Keith’s first, and best solo album — plus or minus some reggae and R&B — for some reason it just doesn’t have the breadth, excitement and enjoyability as Talk Is Cheap.
Not to say it’s bad, in the least. Mick’s desire to keep the Stones hip and contemporary only kept Keith true to his roots and the guitar. The first three tracks alone are excellent; “999” is nice and dirty, “Wicked As It Seems” would be reworked as the opener of the next Stones album, and “Eileen” makes for one peppy love song in the mode of “She’s So Cold”. But things slow down big time on “Words Of Wonder”, six-and-a-half minutes of lazy reggae, and “Yap Yap” doesn’t quite catch either.
What we’d call side two is competent, but not stellar. “Bodytalks” compiles some stray riffs, and is mostly notable for Sarah Dash’s sultry cooing just under the mix. “Hate It When You Leave” extends the soul feel of “Make No Mistake” with some vintage-sounding horns and winds, just as “Runnin’ Too Deep” and “Will But You Won’t” are from the same cloth as “Take It So Hard”. “Demon” limps along to a close.
Main Offender was not a big seller, and while Keith would always get a song or three to sing on future Stones albums, for the next couple decades he limited his solo work to the occasional guest appearance. Because these things had become common, the album’s 30th anniversary would be commemorated with a deluxe set including the album on vinyl and CD, as well as two records (and one CD) devoted to Winos Live In London ‘92, newly supervised by Steve Jordan, plus a leather-bound book and various paraphernalia. (A simpler two-CD version of just the album and the bonus live disc sufficed for those of us without Keith’s money. Fun fact: the discs aren’t silver, but black.) The live album—culled from two consecutive nights, one of which was both Keith’s and Bobby Keys’ birthday—gives the band the chance to stretch in a club-sized venue. Plus, it’s got a slightly plodding “Gimme Shelter” but a strong version of “Before They Make Me Run”, which weren’t included on the Hollywood Palladium set from 1988.

Keith Richards Main Offender (1992)—3
2022 Deluxe Edition: same as 1992, plus 11 extra tracks

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