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4.2 out of 5 stars
Tattoo You [Remastered]
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121 of 127 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2002
Tattoo You was originally released August 25, 1981, it went to #1 in both the UK & US. The album includes the single hits Start Me Up, Hang Fire, and Waiting On A Friend. It's also got Keith's ode Little T&A and Ronnie's Black Limousine. Tops and Waiting On A Friend were pulled from the unreleased vaults (they were recorded in Jamaica during the 1972 Goats Head Soup sessions and Tops still had Mick Taylor on guitar). Producer Chris Kimsey collected the best of the unreleased tracks from 1972 through 1979, featured the new hit Start Me Up, and added a new session (that produced Slave, Neighbours, and Heaven). Most people know the music, so in my reviews I try to give you data on the sessions and interesting facts connected with the songs and the album. Here we go:
Interesting notes include:
.....the megahit Start Me Up was recorded during the same sessions that produced Miss You in New York in 1978....the Stones had abandoned the track but Chris Kimsey salvaged the single take, had Mick add new lyrics, and remixed it to create the version on the album
.....the original title of the album was Tattoo....the "You" was added by Mick during last minute rushes
.....Mick did last minute overdubs by himself without involving the rest of the Band, so he was the only person who knew what the new album would sound like before release
.....Sonny Rollins got the inspiration for the sax in Waiting On A Friend by asking Mick to dance for him while he played
.....when Mick Taylor heard the new album he realized he was playing guitar on Tops and had to sue his old band to get his royalties
There were 9 years worth of sessions that contributed to Tattoo You. They started in Jamaica in 1972 finished with mixing at Atlantic in NYC during April - June, 1981.
Nov 25-30, and Dec 6-21, 1972 at Dynamic Sound in Kingston, Jamaica (Goats Head Soup sessions)
.....Waiting On A Friend
Nov 13-24, 1973 and Jan 14-28, 1974 at Musicland in Munich (It's Only Rock `n' Roll sessions)
.....Black Limousine
Dec 7-15, 1974 at Musicland in Munich (Black & Blue sessions)
Jan 23 - Feb 9, 1975 on the Rolling Stones Mobile in Rotterdam (Black & Blue sessions)
.....Worried About You
Mar 15-31, 1978 at Atlantic Sound in New York
.....Start Me Up
Jan 18 - Feb 12, 1979 at Compass Point Studios in Nassau (Emotional Rescue sessions)
.....Little T & A
Jun 10 - Aug 25 & Sep 12 - Oct 19, 1979 at Pathe Marconi/EMI Studios in Paris (Emotional Rescue sessions)
.....Hang Fire
.....Black Limousine
.....No Use In Crying
Nov-Dec, 1979 at Electric Lady in New York
.....Start Me Up (final mix)
Oct 11 - Nov 12, 1980 at Pathe Marconi/EMI Studios in Paris (the only Tattoo You sessions)
This information comes from "It's Only Rock And Roll: The Ultimate Guide To The Rolling Stones" by Karnbach and Bernson and from my own collection.
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65 of 70 people found the following review helpful
With the old Virgin 1994 remaster and this new 2009 Polydor version 'both' clocking in at exactly 44:26 minutes, I immediately had my suspicions about this latest rehash masquerading as something new for soppy Stones fans like me and a million others. But this 2009 Polydor CD is a FANTASTIC IMPROVEMENT in sound over its 1994 predecessor - it really is...

If I were to nail down what's different - it would be the BASS and DRUMS. They're suddenly so clear now - and in some cases like "Worried About You" - it's truly startling how good they sound. In fact if feels like every single track has been uplifted out of its former rhythm section muddiness. The clarity and punch is great on everything really. STEPHEN MARCUSSEN and STEWART WHITMORE at Marcussen Mastering in Hollywood, California did the transfers and they're to be praised for their work...

As you've no doubt already read, "Tattoo You" was a ragbag of outtakes from previous albums with a few new tunes thrown in - Rockers on the A with Ballads on the B. Yet it worked - I played it to death on release - loved it - especially the soulful Side 2.

Unfortunately, the new packaging is a bit of a joke. The 'furry boot' inner sleeve that came with the original LP is reproduced in a paltry gatefold inlay, but there's no lyrics (there's a European LP that has a lyric sheet insert - they could have used that). The startling Christian Piper tattooed 'Three Paintings' are reduced to a point where the credits on the green-coloured rear sleeve are barely legible. The inlay beneath the see-through CD tray is blank - wow - push the boat out boys! But much worse - and like so many Stones LPs - guest musicians who contributed incredible work at the time are now not mentioned on reissues at all. So with all that in mind, here's a detailed breakdown to get a better lay of the land...

1. Start Me Up [begun in 1975, returned to in 1978 as a "Some Girls" possible]
2. Hang Fire [another "Some Girls" outtake, features IAN STEWART on Piano]
3. Slave [This is an Extended Version - see PS below]
4. Little T&A [Lead Vocals and Bass by Keith Richards, Ian Stewart on Piano - T&A is street slang for certain parts of a woman's anatomy]
5. Black Limousine [the only track on the album co-credited to RONNIE WOOD, it features Mick Jagger on Lead Vocals and Harmonica with Ian Stewart on Piano - backing track dated as far back as "Exile" in 1972]
6. Neighbours [features' both' the legendary SONNY ROLLINS and BOBBY KEYES on Saxophones]
7. Worried About You [features BILLY PRESTON on Piano, WAYNE PERKINS on Lead Guitar and SOLO and OLLIE BROWN on Percussion]
8. Tops [features MICK TAYLOR on Guitar with NICKY HOPKINS on Piano; a Mick Taylor "Exile" outtake - wasn't given a writers credit - sued and won]
9. Heaven [co-producer CHRIS KIMSEY plays Piano on this]
10. No Use In Crying [features Nicky Hopkins on Piano]
11. Waiting On A Friend [features Mick Taylor on Guitar, Sonny Rollins on Saxophone and JIMMY MILLER of "Sticky" fame on Percussion]

The clarity of the guitar solo on "Slave" is awesome as is the swirling magic of "Heaven", but best of all is the beautiful axework by Wayne Perkins on the Side 2 opener "Worried About You". I think it's the best guitar solo on a Stones album anywhere and its clarity now is fabulous.

To sum up - I know the packaging and presentation leave a lot to be desired, but as I listen to the lovely Piano tinkering of Nicky Hopkins on "No Use In Crying" and the three lads harmonising on Backing Vocals - I don't care - I love it. The sound is wonderful and a major improvement over what went before.

The buggering truth is that once you hear these remasters, you're screwed - you'll have to have them all... Damn!

Despite niggles, it's recommended - big time.

PS: there's an anomaly worth noting...

When "Tattoo You" was originally released on Vinyl and Cassette in August 1981 (Rolling Stones CUNS 39114 in the UK and COC 16052 in the USA), the 3rd track on Side 1 "Slave" clocked in at about 3:20 minutes. So when the first ever CD version of it came out on CBS in 1989 it naturally reflected that timing.

However the May 1994 Virgin remaster put out an anomaly without telling anyone - their CD version was inexplicably extended to 6:31 minutes - that error is repeated here - and very much to the benefit of fans because the "Extended Version" of "Slave" is sensational. With the legendary Sonny Rollins playing on Saxophone and Billy Preston on Keyboards, the lengthy mix now sounds like "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" Part 2 from "Sticky Fingers". A huge chunky guitar riff throughout, great Jagger vocals, Sax wailing - it absolutely rocks (apparently there's a version with Jeff Beck on guitar in the can somewhere too).

What should have happened here of course is that the original LP timing be used on this CD - with both the Jeff Beck mix and the Extended Version put on as bonus tracks at the end, but that's for another day and another reissue...
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 1999
This is as good as the Stones get in the eighties, and the bad boys really proved that their fire was burning hotter than ever with Tattoo You, a great companion to Some Girls. This album can almost be considered their swan song, because this is their last GREAT studio effort. Ironically, every song on this 1981 album was recorded in the 70s. Start Me Up was reportedly pinned the same day as Miss You in '78. Waiting on a Friend dates back to '73. You really can't go wrong with the first half of the album. Start Me Up rocks out, Hangfire and Little T&A have swagger, Slave grooves, Black Limosine jams, and Neighbors certainly ranks as a punky, contemporary classic. Some fans are skeptical about the second half, but really, it is a thing of rare beauty. Worried About You has a great feel, Tops is catchy, Heaven is enchanting (and euphoric), Ain't No Use In Crying is a terrific ballad, and Waiting On A Friend is considered by many as a masterpiece. Ignore all the overcriticism by the devoted 70s fans. If you like rock and roll, get Tattoo You. You WON'T regret it.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2000
This was the last STONES record that was solid thru and thru. This album represents two sides of the is roots rock n' roll and the other is spirited soul. The results are convincing and compelling. Side 1 is the STONES dishing up some raucaus rock n' roll with start me up,hang fire,little t& a,and neighbors. Black limousine is a blistering blues number with some smokin' lead guitar and slave is an all out jam. Side 2 is the STONES setting the mood with some passionate soul.
Tracks like worried bout you,tops,and no use in crying display the STONES natural ability for soul with lyrics that cut like a knife and a groove that is mesmerizing. These songs are also a showcase for the vocal versitility of MICK JAGGER. JAGGER is just as convincing here as he is in rock,blues,and funk. The album closes with the classic waiting on a friend which features some of the most tasteful and stylish sax playing i have ever heard in popular music. What can i say except that this is classic stuff. Pick up a copy for some pure "SATISFACTION".
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
I'll make this review quick.

Look, I'll write a review on 'Tattoo You' eventually on one of the earlier pressings. It's a stellar album, it really is. It's The Rolling Stones outtakes album, but these outtakes are so great, one has to wonder why they weren't included on the albums they were recorded for ('Waiting on a Friend,' for example, would fit perfectly on 1973's 'Goats Head Soup,' which it was recorded for).

So as you can see, the two-star review is not for the music. That's an EASY five stars. The two stars are for the botched remastering. The mix is distorted and compressed and the volume is turned *way* up. It's a mess. It's almost hard to listen to and stomach. I don't know what the Stones were thinking authorizing this, but it is a disaster. An absolute disaster.

Overall, if you see this in stores, MAKE SURE you are either buying the 1990 Columbia pressing or the 1994 Virgin remaster as opposed to the 2009 Universal (or Polydor) pressing. This is a great album, but avoid all of the 2009 remasters. I bought 'Still Life (American Concert 1981),' 'Dirty Work,' and this one to test and see what they sounded like. It did not sound good on either my iPod or my speakers, and all of them sounded just terrible.

If you have the 1990 Columbia pressings and/or the 1994 Virgin remasters, hold on to those. Both of them (yes, even the Columbia remasters from when CDs were first being released) sound miles better than this over-compressed, distorted nightmare of a remaster.

Great album. Make sure you buy it, but avoid this copy of it like the plague.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2002
While not quite up to the mammoth standards of Exile or Sticky Fingers, Tattoo You marks a rather glorious conclusion to the Stones' contribution to rock 'n roll history. It was all downhill after this one, and so the promising return to roots showcased on Tattoo You proved to be, ultimately, a false dawn, but what a dawn it was. The album is not just remarkable for its revival of the muscular rock anthems the band delivered so plentiously in their prime, but also in its occasional but brilliant departure from the Brown Sugar days. "Start Me Up's" instantly familiar riff launches the album into a series of similarly gritty and great rock tunes, particularly the epic "Slave," on which Keith's raunchy guitar explodes melodically for nearly 8 minutes, and a lip-smacking 8 minutes it is. "Limousine" is classic Stones blues, replete with every element of great blues-rock; the shrieking harmonica, rollicking blues guitar licks ala Chuck Berry, Jagger's confident drawl, it's all there, and it's one of the greatest blues songs of the Rolling Stones oeuvre, up there with "Parachute Woman," "Midnight Rambler" or "Love in Vain." A few tracks here--"Hang Fire," "T&A," and especially "Neighbors," foreshadow the uninspired noise the band favored on later 80's records. "T&A," at least, offers some delicious drumming and the tongue-in-cheek vulgarity that characterizes the Jagger/Richards songwriting style, but "Neighbors" is just noise, absent of melody and full of empty rage, and "Hang Fire" is just plain rock filler. The unfortunate part of legend status is that everyone knows when you're underachieving, and the Stones certainly know they can do better than "Neighbors," but, as happens with most artists who end up putting out four decades worth of albums, they just don't have the energy to care. As I mentioned, though, the album is catapulted onto top ten Stones albums lists when it wanes gracefully to its sweet conclusion with ballads such as the ethereal "Heaven," "Aint No Use in Cryin'," and the chart hit, "Waiting on a Friend." Whereas previous (and later) departures from their rock roots were abysmal failures--the disco-tinged "Emotional Rescue" and the Regae disaster, "Black 'N Blue"--these unusually atmospheric, heartfelt and hypnotizing tunes tactfully expanded the Stones' musical vision. "Heaven," in particular, bloated with grace, beauty and authenticity, might be the most successful Stones "experiment" of all. These ballads, along with above-mentioned rock classics, make Tattoo You an essential purchase for even the most casual Rolling Stones fan.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2003
And as usual, Mick is behind the wheel of the whole thing.
It's funny - if any other Stones album were organized like Tattoo You (rockers on side a, ballads on side b) I would probably hate it! Yet, oddly enough, by this point in their career, the stones have given us so many well crafted albums - that this "concept" isn't really a problem to me. It's actually really convenient. There are occasions where I only want to hear stones' ballads - and Mick made it so easy. These songs sound so good next to each other. The production is crisp, there is no unsuccessful experimentation - this really is one of my favorites.

Now, a lot of Nay-sayers may protest that an album without any experimentation is just a retread - too safe to be good. I disagree! The funny thing about these songs is that they started out in a variety of different styles (Start Me Up - Reggae) but were refined and reworked to create a coherent whole. Each track dates back from prior sessions (which many other reviews here have pointed out) but together they are in perfect company. This isn't just an outtakes collection, it's more like a carefully constructed collage.

Anyway, my favorite songs off this one are 1) Tops, 2) Waiting on a Friend, 3) No Use Crying. I definitely prefer the ballads here - these ballads are sentimental with a sleazy edge. It that makes perfect sense with a band that's been together at this point for almost two decades. Just picture Mick in seersucker pants rolled up at the ankles walking on the cape thinking about his stock portfolio. Yikes - is that the stones? Yes! And it is glorious! The stones are acting their age on this one, and that is why it works. Trust me, "Tattoo You" will look so good next to all your other stones albums.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2001
It's a collection of outtakes and rejects dating back to 1973, hurriedly stuck together so the Stones would have some product to push during their 1981 US tour ... and it's still the best album they released in the 1980s. Partly it's the glossy sonic sheen Bob Clearmountain's remix gives the songs; partly it's the division between the 'fast' side and 'slow' side on the original vinyl album; but mostly it's because what's included is very good indeed. Start Me Up is a brilliantly raunchy slice of rock; Neighbours and Hang Fire are satiric in intent and just plain fun in style; and Black Limousine is a gorgeous piece of Chicago blues. Elsewhere, Tops and Heaven experiment with soul forms; Waiting On A Friend is not much, but Sonny Rollins' sax solo is genius ... hell, even Ron Wood's soporific barroom ballad No Use In Crying doesn't outstay its welcome. Probably the last Stones album without a clinker.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2000
Can this album really be 20 years old? It still stands up quite well and boasts the lead-in song, "Start me Up," which is arguably in the top five of all the Stones rockers. The opening guitar riff by Keith is nearly as memorable as the riff which begins "Satisfaction." This album also contains one of the Stones greatest ballads, "Waiting on a Friend," a sweet, almost un-Rolling Stone-ish sounding song; wistful, bluesy and sweet, which is a word not usually associated with this group. (The video for this song is also the best-ever Stones video).
As with most Stones albums, there are unfortunately some throw-away filler songs here. Keith even manages to croak out a rare singing stint on "Little T and A," which is the best of the filler songs. This is an exuberant and fun album, certainly not the last Hurrah for the Stones, but their last really fine album.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2000
This is a great album. Maybe one reason I like it is it's an odd album in that it has old tracks dug out of the basement, where Mick Taylor is playing lead guitar (! ). Yes, Mick Taylor plays the lead on "Tops," "Worried About You," and rhythm guitar on "Waiting On a Friend." That's why Mick Jagger didn't include what musicians played on the album, even though Sonny Rollins, the sax legend, played on it. He didn't want people to know about the old Mick Taylor bits. So, this album has Mick Taylor and Ron Wood on lead. Very interesting. (Mick Taylor sued the Stones, incidentally, for some money from this album--as he should have done--and they made a settlement with him.)
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