Undercover is the seventeenth studio album (nineteenth American album) by The Rolling Stones, released in 1983. It was the Stones attempt to re-invent themselves for a new era. However, the relationship between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards began to deteriorate sharply, both personally and musically, largely due to Jagger's focus on trying to stay hip and current and Richards' focus on sticking with their Blues Rock roots. As The '80s progressed, this would have a detrimental impact to the Stones work, and was surely a catalyst for Bill Wyman's departure in 1993.
Upon release, it ended their streak of number 1 albums, reaching number 3 in the UK and number 4 in the US charts. The singles off this album were also minor successes. To this day, this album divides critics and fans.
- "Undercover of the Night" (4:31)
- "She Was Hot" (4:40)
- "Tie You Up (The Pain of Love)" (4:16)
- "Wanna Hold You" (3:52)
- "Feel On Baby" (5:03)
- "Too Much Blood" (6:14)
- "Pretty Beat Up" (4:03)
- "Too Tough" (3:52)
- "All the Way Down" (3:12)
- "It Must Be Hell" (5:03)
- Mick Jagger - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
- Keith Richards - guitar, backing and lead vocals, bass
- Charlie Watts - drums
- Ronnie Wood - guitar, vocals, bass
- Bill Wyman - bass, piano, percussion
Too Much Tropes:
- Alliterative Title: "Too Tough"
- At The Cross Roads: "Too Much Blood"I say, "yeah every-time I drive through the crossroadsI get scared there's a bloke running around with a fucking chain saw.Oh oh no, gonna, oh no. Don't saw off me leg, don't saw off me arm.
- Badass Boast: "Too Tough"But in the end, you spat me outYou could not chew me upI'm too tough, too toughToo tough, too toughWhen it comes to fightingTrying to play it roughI will take you twenty roundsI'm just too tough, too tough
- Break Up Song: "Pretty Beat Up"Pretty beat up, pretty beat upYeah, since you left me lying around
- Comically Cross-Eyed: Mick Jagger makes a Nightmare Face on the cover of the single "Too Much Blood", where he also takes on a goofy cross-eyed look. ◊
- Crapsack World: "It Must Be Hell"We've got trouble, that's for sureWe got millions unemployedSome kids can't writeSome kids can't readSome kids are hungrySome overeatOur TV leader boldy speaksThe words of Christ he tries to preachWe need more power to hold the lineThe strength of darkness still abidesMust be hell living in the worldLiving in the world like you
- Darker and Edgier: At least the lyrics, being more violent and controversial. The music video "Too Much Blood" delves into horror imagery, while the video of "Undercover Of The Night", directed by Julien Temple, had Jagger playing a detective helping a woman follow her boyfriend's (Also played by Jagger.) kidnappers and Richards as the leader of the kidnappers who eventually shoots Jagger. At the time it was considered to be too violent for MTV and only played after 21.00, in an edited version.
- Extreme Doormat: "I Wanna Hold You"I'll be your loverI'll be your slaveI wanna hold you yeahI wanna hold you
- Face on the Cover: A subversion: the band is featured on the album cover (twice!) but very small and in the form of a small sticker.
- HipHop: Mick Jagger tries to rap in "Too Much Blood"!
- Intercourse with You:
She was hot - she pinned me to the groundShe was quick - she knew her way aroundShe was hot - as she tore my clothesShe was hot - she had no place to go
- "She Was Hot".
I was twenty one naiveNot cynical, I try to pleaseHer wit, her speech, her reparteeImpressed me almost instantlyShe went all the wayAll the way downShe went all the way, all the wayShe showed me love a hundred waysHow she pimped and how she paid
- "All The Way Down"
- Murder Ballad: "Too Much Blood" which describes the real life murder of a Dutch young student who was eaten by Japanese cannibal Issei Sagawa.
- New Sound Album: The Stones attempt to stay contemporary. Though not full-on 80's (Unlike Steel Wheels, though even that isn't very 80's), it has elements of synth-pop, new wave, and even hip-hop.
- Obligatory Bondage Song: "Tie You Up (The Pain Of Love)".No parole, no bailHard labour, fifty lashesHard labour, money splashesIt's hard to survive the pain of love
- Product Placement: "Undercover Of The Night"The John's are jerky little G.I. Joe's
- Protest Song: "Undercover Of The Night".Hear the screams of Centre 42Loud enough to bust your brains outThe opposition's tongue is cut in twoKeep off the street 'cause you're in dangerOne hundred thousand disparusLost in the jails in South America(...) The sex police are out there on the streetsMake sure the pass laws are not brokenThe race militia has got itchy fingersAll the way from New York back to Africa
- Real Life Writes the Plot: "Too Much Blood" references the 1981 cannibalistic murder of a Dutch woman by Issei Sagawa. That same year this crime had also inspired the The Stranglers song "La Folie".
- Sexy Packaging: A vintage nude pin-up with her naughty bits obscured by stickers.
- "Undercover Of The Night" was influenced by William S. Burroughs' novel The Red Night Trilogy, according to Jagger.
- "Too Much Blood" references real life Japanese cannibal Issei Sagawa, who ate a Dutch female tourist, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and An Officer and a Gentleman, which is described as "Something you can take the wife to, you know what I mean?" The music video includes a small snippet from Béla Bartók's "String Quartet No.3". When the woman in the video starts watching TV she sees a scary scene from the horror movie Basket Case (1982).
- Special Guest: Reggae duo Sly and Robbie provide percussion and bass guitar on this album.
- Step Up to the Microphone: Keith Richards sings lead vocals on "Wanna Hold You".
- Wanderlust Song: "Feel On Baby"Wanderlust and love diseaseTaken over and strangled me