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