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Music / Undercover

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Even the band was "Pretty Beat Up" by this point.

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.


Side One

  1. "Undercover of the Night" (4:31)
  2. "She Was Hot" (4:40)
  3. "Tie You Up (The Pain of Love)" (4:16)
  4. "Wanna Hold You" (3:52)
  5. "Feel On Baby" (5:03)

Side Two

  1. "Too Much Blood" (6:14)
  2. "Pretty Beat Up" (4:03)
  3. "Too Tough" (3:52)
  4. "All the Way Down" (3:12)
  5. "It Must Be Hell" (5:03)

Principal Members:

  • 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 crossroads
    I 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 out
    You could not chew me up
    I'm too tough, too tough
    Too tough, too tough
    When it comes to fighting
    Trying to play it rough
    I will take you twenty rounds
    I'm just too tough, too tough
  • Break Up Song: "Pretty Beat Up"
    Pretty beat up, pretty beat up
    Yeah, 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. [1]
  • Crapsack World: "It Must Be Hell"
    We've got trouble, that's for sure
    We got millions unemployed
    Some kids can't write
    Some kids can't read
    Some kids are hungry
    Some overeat
    Our TV leader boldy speaks
    The words of Christ he tries to preach
    We need more power to hold the line
    The strength of darkness still abides
    Must be hell living in the world
    Living 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 lover
    I'll be your slave
    I wanna hold you yeah
    I 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 was hot - she pinned me to the ground
    She was quick - she knew her way around
    She was hot - as she tore my clothes
    She was hot - she had no place to go
    • "All The Way Down"
    I was twenty one naive
    Not cynical, I try to please
    Her wit, her speech, her repartee
    Impressed me almost instantly
    She went all the way
    All the way down
    She went all the way, all the way
    She showed me love a hundred ways
    How she pimped and how she paid
  • 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 bail
    Hard labour, fifty lashes
    Hard labour, money splashes
    It'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 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
    (...) The sex police are out there on the streets
    Make sure the pass laws are not broken
    The race militia has got itchy fingers
    All 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.
  • Shout-Out:
  • 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 disease
    Taken over and strangled me