1/  Lonely at the Top                          (Jagger,Richards)             3.45
  2/  1/2 a Loaf                                 (Jagger)                      4.58
  3/  Running Out of Luck                        (Jagger)                      4.15
  4/  Turn the Girl Loose                        (Jagger)                      3.52
  5/  Hard Woman                                 (Jagger)                      4.23
  6/  Just Another Night                         (Jagger)                      5.13
  7/  Lucky in Love                              (Jagger,Alomar)               6.13
  8/  Secrets                                    (Jagger)                      5.01
  9/  She's the Boss                             (Jagger,Alomar)               5.14

          Recorded at Compass Point Studios, Nassau, Bahamas
          Tracks 1,3,5,6,7 and 9 produced by Mick Jagger and Bill Laswell/Material
          Tracks 2,4 and 8 produced by Mick Jagger and Nile Rodgers
Mick Jagger: vocals, background vocals, harmonica; Pete Townshend (1,5): guitar; Eddie Martinez (1,2,3,9): guitar; Herbie Hancock (1,3,6): organ, synthesizer, Fairlight CMI, DX-1, Hammond organ; Guy Fletcher (1,7,9): synthesizer; Bill Laswell (1,6): bass, synthesizer; Michael Shrieve (1): drums; Bernard Fowler (1,7,9): background vocals; Bernard Edwards (2,4,8): bass; Steve Ferroni (2): drums; Nile Rodgers (2,4): guitar; Rob Sabino (2,4,8): synclavier, Prophet 5, Juno 60, piano; Fonzi Thornton (2): background vocals; Jeff Beck (3,5,6,7,9): guitar; Robbie Shakespeare (3,6,7,9): bass; Sly Dunbar (3,6,7,9): drums, Simmons drums; Daniel Ponce (3): bata; Anton Fig (4,8): drums; Lenny Pickett (4): baritone sax; Alfa Anderson (4): ladies’ rap; Jan Hammer (5): piano; Colin Hodgkinson (5): bass; Tony Thompson (5): drums; Rabbit and Ron Magness (6): synthesizer; Anton Fier (6,9): Simmons toms, metal; Aiyb Dieng (6,7,9): shaker, water drums, talking drums; Wally Badarou (7,9): synthesizer, synclavier II, OBXa; Chuck Leavell (7,9): organ; Ray Cooper (7,9): percussion, congas; G.E. Smith (8): guitar.

          1985 - CBS/Columbia (USA), FC 39940 (Vinyl)
          1985 - CBS/Sony (Japan), 28AP 2996 (Vinyl)
          1985 - Atlantic (USA), 7567-82553-2 (CD)
          1985 - CBS/Sony (Japan), CDCBS 86310 (CD)


When Mick Jagger begs, "Can't you see that I'm human?" in "Just Another Night," it gets your hopes up for She's the Boss. What a setup: Almost twenty-three years into his career as lead singer, lyricist and point man for the Rolling Stones, Jagger has decided to make a solo album. Keith Richards, his longtime partner, collaborator and foil, shows up with just one songwriting credit; the rest of the Stones are nowhere to be heard. Is the man who has willingly symbolized everything your parents feared about rock & roll finally going to show us a side that was hidden in the group?

Not exactly. True, there are differences between She's the Boss and the ever more ironic, ever more complicated output of the Rolling Stones. Even with Jagger's out-front singing, in that remarkable accent that melds upper-and lower-class Britspeak with some imaginary Deep South drawl, no one is likely to mistake She's the Boss for a Stones album. But Jagger has opted for a hot dance record rather than a confession. For all the curiosity it invites, She's the Boss is the continuation of the Stones saga by other means.

Here, in a nutshell, are the differences:

You can make out all the lyrics.

There's no tangle of guitars in the midrange – just space, bass and assorted clean sounds and electronic snorts.

The album is on the Stones' new label, Columbia, which is going to do its damnedest to make a profit on their huge contract.

And speaking of marketing, the songs are also available in a full-length video directed by Julien Temple.

But the more Mick changes, the more Mick remains the same. Like the last six or seven Rolling Stones albums, this is the work of a character who can't decide whether or not he likes his self-made cartoon. With Undercover, Mick had me believing that he and the Stones were reconsidering, almost repenting, their old equations of sex and violence and fun; that they did, indeed, think there was too much blood.

She's the Boss steps back into coyness. First we get the new Jagger, downright abject in "Just Another Night," claiming to wonder whether he can get it up again for anything but true love, while the music stomps away implacably. The title cut and "1/2 a Loaf" do the Stones' latest rhetorical flip, reversing the polarities of the old sexism by putting the woman on top. On the other side of the boy-girl dialectic, "Lonely at the Top" and "Secrets" take revenge on go-getter women; "Hard Woman" does a combination play, loving her and leaving her anyway. Meanwhile, "Lucky in Love" and "Running Out of Luck" update the low-life antiromance of "Shattered."

The Stones, and Jagger as their spokesman, have always chronicled the ways love and power tangle – from "Back Street Girl" to "She Was Hot." On She's the Boss, Jagger is as articulate as ever about who gets fucked and who gets fucked over. It's possible to thread a story line through the songs: an aging star, an ambitious young woman, romance that gets derailed into prostitution and dominance-submission. In fact, each song stakes out its own situation and plot line, giving Temple plenty to work with for his video.

Die-hard Stones fans know that the band's lyrics aren't the nexus; tunes and attitude are. Yet given the fact that he could take all sorts of chances and still get the big push from CBS, Jagger has made nothing but platinum-mainstream choices: production by Bill Laswell/Material (Herbie Hancock) and Nile Rodgers (David Bowie, Madonna); snarling guitar solos by Jeff Beck (Tina Turner, Rod Stewart); Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare in the rhythm section. All that's missing is a cameo by Prince.

For these songs, though, Jagger has made the right decisions. With the exception of "Hard Woman" (which hits the Van Morrison vein that "Winter" did on Goat's Head Soup), he's written catch phrases and riffs – not exactly melodies. And if anyone can take a riff and gnaw on it until it gives up the juice, Laswell and Rodgers can.

The grooves are basic Jagger rock, not as cool or metallic as Laswell on "Rockit," nor as jazzy as Nile Rodgers on Let's Dance or Like a Virgin. In their own ways, though, Laswell's six songs and Rodgers' three (all coproduced by Jagger) are muscular and tricky.

She's the Boss overflows with production ideas: Herbie Hancock's garageband organ on "Lonely at the Top"; drummer Anton Fier's metal noises and Eddie Martinez' guitar chatter on "She's the Boss"; Sly Dunbar's goosing, offbeat accents everywhere; Daniel Ponce's bata drums in stereo on "Running Out of Luck"; the neo-Chic, fits-and-starts funk of "Turn the Girl Loose"; the goofball inserts of "Just Another Night"; and Jeff Beck's amazing solos every time he charges into the mix. Jagger sings, talks and postures as well as ever, too: listen to the way he faces a "royal flush" in "Lucky in Love."

Still, unlike a major Stones album, which yields more ideas and ironies as you live with it, She's the Boss just gets more danceable. It doesn't challenge the legend of Mick the Stone, doesn't get outrageous or scary the way Undercover did, doesn't leave me with much more than a chuckle and a beat. It's an album from one of rock's nastiest, wittiest, most unsettling characters – and for all its nifty musical details, it sheds more heat than light on Mick Jagger.


John Pareles (courtesy of the Rolling Stone website)


He's the boss on his first solo album (except the title song)

Before the Stones' Dirty Work hit the shelves in 1986, Mick Jagger released his first solo album a year before. Like Phil Collins doing a different sound to distinguish his solo material from Genesis, so too does Mick to differentiate She's The Boss from another Rolling Stones album with guitar chores from Jeff Beck and Pete Townshend and some keyboard work by jazz great Herbie Hancock. It has a smoother sound yet manages to rock with a pop polish. Most of the songs are produced by Bill Laswell, but Nile Rodgers of Chic does his hand on three of the tracks.

Those are "½ a Loaf", which features a sound one might recognize on Like A Virgin, also helmed by Rodgers, who also does guitar here, with former bandmate Bernard Edwards on bass. Having a clandestine affair is deemed "half a glass, half a dream, half a life" and in the bridge, a frustrated Mick just says to heck with it and let it all hang out. He then calls upon some overprotective guardian to "Turn The Girl Loose." Featuring a strong bass, Mick really belts it out when he yells "let her out of jail." It even has Alfa Anderson doing a sassy rap declaring her independence and free will at the end. "Secrets" shows that a respectable wife isn't that respectable but has been really out on the town.

Even though not produced by Rodgers, the sound on the first danceable single "Just Another Night" is a disguised cousin of "Material Girl" in terms of sound. It hit #12 on the singles chart, somewhat low considering his long history with the Stones, but it was a #1 mainstream rock hit. Jagger seems to be shucking off the bad boy persona of the Stones: "Can't you see that I'm human" and "I get hungry, I get thirsty, I get moody, I need attention." Some great percussive effects by Sly Dunbar here.

The closest thing to the Stones comes from Keith Richards' co-penning of the energetic rocker "Lonely At The Top" a warning on how fame, the thing "that leads young girls astray" eventually strips away one's soul once one reaches that pinnacle. One might indulge Jagger, as his band is considered one of the greatest bands in the rock and roll pantheons.

Another lively track, "Running Out of Luck" has Mick on harmonica. This also spawned an extended concept video of the same name, and which I presume had the videos for "Just Another Night" and "Lucky In Love" on it.

Where the Stones were chauvinistic on some of their previous albums, a few songs champion the woman. Other than "Turn The Girl Loose," there's "Hard Woman," a tender and melodic ballad with some strings that's actually one of my favourites tracks and could've been a single. Lots of famed players are here, Tony Thompson of Chic and the Power Station on drums, Jan Hammer on piano, and Beck and Townshend on guitars. Despite the woman being materialistic, cruel and unfaithful, he has no regrets of the time spent: "Alone at last, I could've loved in vain for a thousand years, I have to let her go." The tongue-in-cheek title track, this time is a humorous role reversal, with Mick as the submissive half: "she's the boss in the office, she's the boss in the kitchen, she's the boss in bed, she's the boss in my head." In a spoken bedroom banter later in the song, he says stuff like "I got a headache," "I gotta wash my hair" and that old favourite, "it's my time of the month." OK, Mick, I don't think we needed to know that.

"Lucky In Love," the other single, is a humorous tale of someone who doesn't come up trumps in gambling but when it comes to the ladies... Well, Mick is one with the ladies, to be sure. And the challenging rap at the end, with Mick betting and raising with the full house he's been set up with is amusing. I like this better than the first single, so why it managed a #38 showing is beyond me. Top Ten for sure!

Hardcore Stones fans may not take too kindly to this smoother pop/rock sound. The solid and consistent She's the Boss showed Mick could successfully break away and do his own thing without his bandmates.


Daniel J. Hamlow (courtesy of the Amazon website)