Undercover of the Night

Composers: Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
Recording date: January-March & May-August 1983      Recording locations: Pathé Marconi
Studios, Paris, France; Compass Point Studios, Nassau, Bahamas; & The Hit Factory, New York City
Producers: The Glimmer Twins & Chris Kimsey               Chief engineer: Chris Kimsey
Performed onstage: 1989, 1994-95, 1999, 2002, 2006

Probable line-up:

Drums: Charlie Watts
Bass: Bill Wyman
Electric guitars: Keith Richards & Ron Wood (incl. solo)
Vocals: Mick Jagger
Keyboards: Chuck Leavell
Simmons (electronic) drums: Sly Dunbar
Percussion (incl. timpani, bongos): Charlie Watts & Sly Dunbar (and possibly Martin Ditcham, Moustapha Cisse & Brahms Coundoul)
 

Hear the screams in Center 42
Loud enough to bust your brains out
The opposition's tongue is cut in two
Keep off the street 'cause you're in danger

One hundred thousand disparus
Lost in the jails in South America

Curl up, baby, curl up tight

Cuddle up, baby, keep all I say
Undercover, keep all I say
Undercover of the night

The sex police are out there on the streets
Make sure the passed laws are not broken
The race militia has got itchy fingers
All the way from New York back to Africa

Curl up, baby, keep all I say
Cuddle up, baby, keep all I say
Cuddle up, baby, keep all I say
Undercover, undercover
Undercover, keep all I say
Undercover of the night

Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh,
ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh
Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh,
ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh

All the young men, they've been rounded up
And sent to camps back in the jungle
And people whisper, people double-talk
Once proud fathers act so humble

All the young girls they have got the blues
They're heading on back to Center 42

Keep it undercover, keep all I say
Keep it undercover, keep all I say
Undercover, keep all I say
Undercover


Keep all I say undercover of the night

Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh
Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh,
ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh
Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh

Down in the bars, the girls are painted blue
Done up in lace, done up in rubber
The Johns are jerky little G.I. Joes
On R&R from Cuba and Russia

The smell of sex, the smell of suicide
All these dreams, things I can't keep inside

Undercover, keep all I say
Undercover of the night

Undercover of the night
Undercover of the night

Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh
Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh,
ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh
Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh
Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh

Undercover, undercover
Undercover of the night

 
 

TrackTalk
 

(I)t's totally Mick's song.

- Keith Richards, 2002


Charlie and I were in a room, some small studio somewhere and there was just one big drum that someone left there, a timpani. And I had a guitar and that's how that started, like bom-pidibom- pidibom-pidibom.

- Mick Jagger, 1984


Charlie and I did that. We had a big drum, and I had a guitar. It was going to be the single, but maybe it's too avant-garde for a single, for the Stones at least... Everyone in the (record) company liked Undercover and they didn't like Too Much Blood because it was more surprising.

- Mick Jagger, September 1983


With something like the track Undercover, Mick wrote that on the guitar and I used to work on it with him. We worked that through many different stages and Charlie and Mick worked on it on their own as well.

- Ron Wood, 1988


(W)e did put in some wonderful changes on the song Undercover of the Night, because Keith wouldn't get involved in the song. I remember it being just me, Mick and Charlie. I used to really enjoy playing that song with Mick and Charlie - we took it up into some wonderful adventures with all these different changes. It was really good. There was a great percussive and acoustic version, which is the kind of song it should be, really. The final polished, glossed-up version may have been Mick's vision of the song, but I know the funky version was one he loved as well.

- Ron Wood, 2003


Mick had this one all mapped out, I just played on it. There were a lot more overlays on this track, because there was a lot more separation in the way we were recording at that time. Mick and I had started to come to loggerheads.

- Keith Richards, 1993


I'm not saying I nicked it, but this song was heavily influenced by William Burroughs' Cities Of The Red Night, a free-wheeling novel about political and sexual repression. It combines a number of different references to what was going down in Argentina and Chile. I think it's really good but it wasn't particularly successful at the time because songs that deal overtly with politics never are that successful, for some reason.

- Mick Jagger, 1993


When it was written it was always like - it's supposed to be about the repression of violence in our minds, you know, 'cause we have so much of it. It's also about repressive political systems - pretty serious stuff for Top 20 material. It's pretty risky to put out songs like that 'cause nobody's really interested in that kind of thing. I mean, everyone wants to hear about party all night long or just mumbo jumbo. Nobody's interested in anything real... So that was a bit of a departure for us 'cause we hadn't done anything like that since Street Fighting Man.

- Mick Jagger, 1984


(I)n the '80s... (a) lot of the stuff, the material that Mick wanted to do, was not particularly guitar-oriented. We were trying to, like, wedge guitars into places where they're not necessary, like Emotional Rescue and Undercover. Around that time we were doing a lot of material that was not necessarily made for guitars. Mick wanted to get into that dance thing and, you know, Okay, here we go.

- Keith Richards, 1994


Undercover of the Night, Emotional Rescue, these are all Mick's calculations about the market. And they're not the best records we've made. See, Mick listens to too much bad shit.

- Keith Richards, 1997


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