There are some who think of Undercover as a lesser Rolling Stones album. Not one of the biggies. Sure it doesn’t have Sympathy For The Devil or Gimmie Shelter or Paint It Black on it. To be fair it doesn’t really have any huge hit singles on it the way the previous 20 years worth of output did. It wasn’t recorded in the golden run of Aftermath to Goats Head Soup and it sits there as their third record of the 1980’s heralding in a new kind of Rolling Stones. An old Rolling Stones. Jokes began about them being past it 40 years ago. So they decided to try going disco. Why not? Kiss did it. Rod Stewart had done it. Queen too. Why couldn’t The Stones?
Well the answers simple. They’re The Stones. They roll. It’s what they do. Even when they’re not talking to each other and have given up on being legendary. They can’t help but walk the dog, strut that boogie, dust the broom and take it to the bridge.
I think Undercover is a groovy frikkin’ record. And it features a new venture for the band on Too Much Blood. Film criticism made song. Right in the middle of the extended jam funk-a-thon that is the follow up single to Undercover Of The Night Mick gives you his critique on the Slasher genre as a whole and Texas Chainsaw Massacre in particular.
“Did you ever see ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’? Horrible, wasn’t it? You know people ask me, “Is it really true, you know where you live in Texas. Is that really true what they do around there, people?” I say, “Hey, now everytime I drive through the crossroads I get scared there’s a bloke running around with a fuckin’ chain saw”
This kick started a trend in stadium rock bands reviewing films in their songs. Fleetwood Mac’s appraisal of Yentl in The Farmers Daughter had a lengthy 4th verse on the 12″ single which discussed the films cinematography and use of mis en scene to purvey the angst of gender politics. Dire Straits track Once Upon A Time In The West discusses the black hat theory and the use of long tracking shots to establish scale and tone in just it’s bass line alone.
Things were getting out of hand when Prog Rocker Rick Wakeman prepared a three hour stage show about the cinematic language of The Italian New Wave on Ice. Thank goodness then that the ‘fore mention Queen cramming in “Jaws was never my scene and I don’t like Star Wars” into Bicycle Race five years before Too Much Blood was released. They finally put a stop to the madness with a deftly employed use of a DeLorean and some other Maguffin from a Highlander sequel. This was mere minutes before Duran Duran’s concept album dissecting the works of Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai could make it’s radio debut. Seven (minus the Samurai) and The Ragged Tiger was hastily rewritten to remove all references to Film Theory and Criticism and thus rock and roll was saved. You can’t prove it didn’t happen…
“Oh, no, he’s gotta cut off me… Oh no no! Don’t saw off me leg, don’t saw off me arm”
Tobe Hooper’s option to buy the movie rights for The Man Who Killed Mick Jagger seemed like a step too far as a response. So Spielberg had him make Poltergeist instead. As for An Officer And A Gentleman. It would appear Mick’s impromptu endorsement of a small indie hit made by then unknowns of it’s stars Richard Gere and Debra Winger in this time line.
“When I go to the movies, you know I’d like to see something more romantic. You know like, ‘An Officer And A Gentleman’ or something, something you excite the wife too, You know what I mean?“
Of course none of this is true, but it’d make a hell of a B-Movie.