Posts Tagged ‘Talk Is Cheap’

Keith Richards Kevin Mazur Crop

To celebrate the birthday of legendary Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards and the late renowned rock saxophonist Bobby Keys. The melding of these two musical minds seemed to be ordained by the gods as they were born on the exact same day December 18th, 1943 — worlds away from each other in the UK and Texas.

Bobby Keys came into the world on that day near Lubbock, Texas and began his musical career at 15 playing with another famed son of Lubbock, Buddy Holly. Bobby first met The Rolling Stones in 1964 at the San Antonio Teen Fair as a member of Bobby Vee’s band. Keys would later rekindle his relationship with the legendary rockers and go on to lay down sax work on the Stones’ stellar records of the late 1960s and ’70s, most notably the iconic sax solo on “Brown Sugar” and the extended run on “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” as well as on a number of songs from the Stones’ landmark 1972 double LP, Exile On Main St.

Keith and Bobby Keys would become fast friends and Richards relates a number of musical, and extra-musical, adventures they had in his candid 2010 autobiography, “Life”. So it was only natural when Keith Richards formed his solo project the X-Pensive Winos in the late 1980s, Bobby was at his side on sax.

On February 13th, 1993, Richards, Keys and the X-Pensive Winos — also consisting of vocalists Sarah Dash and Babi (Bobby) Floyd, drummer Steve Jordan, bassist Jerome Smith, keyboardist Ivan Neville and guitarist Waddy Wachtel — performed the first of two shows at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston to support their 1992 album, Main Offender. The set, which opened with Eddie Cochran’s “Somethin’ Else,” included songs from Main Offender like “Wicked As It Seems” and “999” as well as tracks off their 1988 debut album, Talk Is Cheap, including “Whip It Up” and “I Could Have Stood You Up.” The concert also saw Keith doing Rolling Stones classics like “Time Is On My Side” and a grungy slowed down version of “Gimme Shelter.” Richards would deliver his signature Stones song, “Happy,” as the penultimate number of the evening ahead of closer “Take It So Hard” from Talk Is Cheap.

Setlist: Something Else, Wicked As It Seems, Gimme Shelter, 999, Running Too Deep, Locked Away, Time Is On My Side, Will But You Won’t, Words Of Wonder, Hate It When You Leave, Before They Make Me Run, Eileen, Bodytalks, Whip It Up, I Could Have Stood You Up, Happy, Take It So Hard#

In 1986, relations between Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were at an all-time low. The Rolling Stones were on hold while Jagger toured as a solo act behind his 1987 album Primitive Cool, and the two traded endless insults in the press.

So Keith Richards decided to do something he’d always held off on: form his own solo band. The X-Pensive Winos featured an eclectic crew including Waddy Wachtel (Warren Zevon, the Everly Brothers), drummer Steve Jordan (who played with Richards in the Chuck Berry tribute concert film Hail! Hail! Rock & Roll),  bassist-drummer Charley Drayton and keyboardist Ivan Neville.

Recording outside Quebec, the chemistry was clear when they laid down the swaggering opener “Take it So Hard.” “I went back to the house going, ‘we’ve conquered Everest already?’ Wachtel said later. In his autobiography Life, Richards agreed. “There’s no way you can stand in front of the Winos without getting off. It’s a surefire high. It was so hot you could hardly believe it.”

The result was Talk is Cheap, an endearingly ragged classic considered by many fans the best Rolling Stones-related release of the last three decades. From the stomping open-G anthem “Take it So Hard” to the Memphis soul ballad “Make No Mistake,” it captures Richards nailing everything he’s good at – hear the throwback Sun-style in the rocker “I Could Have Stood You Up.”

To celebrate its 30th anniversary on March 29th, the album will finally be reissued as a huge box set that includes the album on CD and vinyl, six unreleased tracks from the sessions and an 80-page book featuring a new interview with Richards. There an even more extravagant “super deluxe” box set that comes in a case that replaces Richards’ guitar case made by the Fender Custom Shop.

“This album holds up,“ Richards said. “I’ve been listening to it and not through the mists of nostalgia either because it doesn’t affect me that way. This is more than the sum of its parts. I really admire it. We were having fun and you can hear it.”