Re: Some Girls question
Date: January 4, 2005 14:20
No, SMU was never started in 1975.
An interview with Kimsey:
How long it would take for a real song to emerge from the riffs and jams varied greatly; it might be a matter of hours, it could be days, or something might never materialize from a given direction. In the case of “Start Me Up,” recording began on the same day that the band finally nailed a solid rhythm track for “Miss You,” after several days of struggling to find the perfect groove for that song. The clanging guitar riff for “Start Me Up” was pure Keith, of course, and Jagger at least had the phrase “Start It Up” on that first day. “It came together very quickly,” he says, “and then I remember Keith coming into the control room, which he only did when he was very interested in hearing something, and playing back ‘Start Me Up.’ And he said something like, “Bin that [i.e., throw it away] — sounds like something I heard on the radio today.' He was very down on the song. And that was pretty much the end of it until Tattoo You came up.” Actually, the band then tried taking the song in a reggae direction at that session, but it never amounted to anything, and it was all but forgotten.
Some Girls, which earned Kimsey a co-production credit, was a huge hit for the Stones, and the accompanying tour — the group's first American stadium tour — was also a colossal success. The down side of all this is that the tour left them a little ragged around the edges, and as a result, their next album — again with Kimsey engineering and co-producing at Pathé Marconi — was a step down in every respect. The 1980 album Emotional Rescue was a laid-back, slightly disjointed affair, memorable only for the title track, with its strong echoes of Prince, and the fierce “She's So Cold,” which sounded like an extension of the Some Girls vibe. By that time, the Stones were spread out at different hotels and apartments around Paris, and they seemed to relish their time away from each other.
When, in late 1980, it came time for the Stones to think about recording yet another album, they were in a bind: They weren't really together as a band, and the prospect of churning out more songs on short notice was not very appealing. This is when Kimsey sprang into action: “It was the beginning of the ugly time,” he recalls. “Mick and Keith weren't getting on well, there was an album that had to be delivered, and I suggested to their business manager and to Mick and Keith, ‘I know of several songs that are kicking around that you've forgotten about that I recorded with you. Let me go through and see what else is knocking about. I'll go through it, put it into shape, edit it and see what's there.’ So I spent about two or three months doing that and going through earlier sessions they'd done before Some Girls. I was in London, mostly working at Olympic. The tapes were all over the place, but I had log books covering every minute I'd recorded with them.”
Kimsey selected more than a dozen tunes he felt could be developed into workable songs: “They were all incomplete, but some of them were only missing vocals and guitar solos, so they were pretty far along.” The next stage of work on the album took place in Paris, but not at Pathé Marconi; instead, Kimsey rented a warehouse on the outskirts of town — what's known as the peripherique — and shipped in the Stones' mobile truck to act as control room.
“[The songs] are all from different periods,” Jagger noted of the songs on Tattoo You. “Then I had to write lyrics and melodies. A lot of them didn't have anything, which is why they weren't used at the time — because they weren't complete. They were just bits, or they were from early takes. And then I put them together in an incredibly cheap fashion. I recorded in this place in Paris in the middle of the winter. I recorded some of it in a broom cupboard, literally, where we did the vocals. The rest of the band were hardly involved.”
The oldest songs on Tattoo You — “Tops” and the poignant “Waiting on a Friend” — dated back to the Goat's Head Soup sessions and even featured Mick Taylor (uncredited) on guitar, while others were plucked from the Black and Blue, Some Girls and Emotional Rescue sessions. The hauntingly beautiful track “Heaven,” featuring Kimsey on Wurlitzer piano, was cut specifically for Tattoo You.
“Start It Up,” take two, was one of the tracks that Kimsey salvaged from the Some Girls sessions, and this time around, everything clicked: Jagger came up with words that matched Keith's powerful, off-kilter main riff, and three years after it was started, the song became a keeper. The final overdubs and mixing took place at the Power Station in New York: That thump and sheen on “Start Me Up” is partly the work of mixer Bob Clearmountain, who first worked with the Stones on the single mix of “Miss You.” It was on “Start Me Up” that he first used his famous “bathroom reverb” — pumping some drum and vocal tracks through a miked speaker in a small reverberant bathroom downstairs in the studio building. It was also in New York that Jagger changed the lyric from “start it up” to “start me up.”
“I remember he came in the control room and said, ‘What do you think of this?’ and he sang it right in my ear,” Clearmountain says with a laugh. “Up to that point, I never realized how loud he could sing. He was shouting over the track, and I was leaning backward, saying, ‘Yeah, yeah. That's great! Why don't you try doing it out in the studio, on the mic?!’ He was amazing; I have so much respect for him.”
“Start Me Up” became an instant smash when it was released in the summer of 1981, just in time for another mammoth world tour. The song peaked at Number 2 in the United States, but it helped propel the Tattoo You album to Number One for nine weeks — the most ever for a Stones album — and eventual worldwide sales of more than 6 million copies. And, despite the album's motley origins, Tattoo You stands as one of the Stones' finest middle-period records. I've always particularly liked the dreamy, hypnotic quality of what used to be known as side two of the album, and, of course, it's hard to beat those bookends: “Start Me Up” and “Waiting on a Friend.” “Start Me Up” has remained a staple of “classic rock” radio stations, and it has also become a favorite of American football crowds: You can often hear it blaring over the P.A. at packed stadiums before kick-offs. Microsoft also paid a reported $8 million to use the song for its Windows '95 launch campaign.