Saturday, 10 October 2009

Blood From (The) Stones

The Rolling Stones used to freak me out when I was a kid. Yeah, yeah, insert quip about Mick's dancing here, whatever, but the group inspired a kind of psychosexual unease in the younger me... they just seemed like evil, nasty people with bad intentions. Their lips logo was nauseatingly glossy, a blankly lewd cipher for rapacious corporate appetite while their music... well, it felt like aural molestation. I distinctly recall that the video for 'Too Much Blood' (amazing title) made me feel especially sick and wrong. Watch out for the bloody human remains in the fridge. Would you get an image so cheap and lo-fi unpleasant in a contemporary music video? I doubt it. After all, we have 'taste' nowadays.

I really like 1980s Stones. Seems to me that the group were at their most decadent and morally questionable when they had been fully integrated into the establishment. This next song, released in 1984, is sonically brilliant, a sleazy crawl blasted to pieces by machine gun delay... and lyrically, it's safe to say that few mainstream rock groups at the time were dealing with issues of corruption in Central and South America. I suspect they were fairly well-informed on the subject too. 'Undercover...' sums up what I find queasily enjoyable about the Stones: they don't bemoan a world gone to shit... they enjoy it, revel in it. In that respect they remind me of The Comedian, the ill-fated amoral costumed antihero of Alan Moore's Watchmen. Although the Stones go one better - presiding over the chaos from the ivory tower afforded the rock aristocracy, they look down with contempt upon the weak and helpless. Despicable, although I can't help but view it as a more honest response than the phoney careerist concern that produced Live Aid.