Great Rock Albums of 1986: Rolling Stones- Dirty Work


When I began re-familiarizing myself with the Rolling Stones’ 1986 album, “Dirty Work,” I suddenly realized that I might have committed a crime that I should be possibly hung for. During the tour of 1985, I had totally forgotten that Mick Jagger had released a solo album in that year and I remember it was pretty good. The question is now what to do about it.

Before I answer that question, I will now share my thoughts on “Dirty Work.” For me, the album had confirmed that the Rolling Stones had completely gone back to the sound that had made them the legends they were. I was finally able to put the disco albums of “Some Girls” and “Emotional Rescue” behind me and enjoy the music the band had been making since the 1981 “Tattoo You” album.

When I hear the first two tracks on the album, “One Hit to the Body” and “Fight,” I am wondering if the band were going out looking for violence. I mean, the lyrics “I got to get into a fight” makes it kind of clear that they were. Of course, with all the PMRC bullshit that was going on at the time, maybe they were trying to wind people up. Violent lyrics or not, those two songs are pretty hard rocking and set the tone for the rest of the album.

Admittedly, when I heard the first single, “Harlem Shuffle” on radio and MTV, it took me a couple of listens to get into it. However, upon closer examination, the song simply highlights their blues influence and now I can totally appreciate that. An even harder track is “Hold Back” where it almost sounds as if the Stones were trying to go a little metal here. There is some good guitar work on the song from Richards and Wood. Then when you think you have the album pegged, they change things with the Richards lead vocal reggae sounding “Too Rude.” Keith does sing okay on it but what really stands out for me on the track is Wyman’s bass line.

Bill adds another cool bass line on the following track, “Winning Ugly” along with some more interesting guitar work. I don’t know which Stone plays the guitar solo on it, my guess it’s Ronnie, but it’s very nicely done. On the other hand, I don’t know quite what to make of “Back to Zero.” It’s a good track with a good funk vibe to it but I wonder whether or not it’s to be taken seriously or meant to be a tune you play to put life into at party. It could easily do that. The title cut reminds my of a previous Rolling Stones song, “Hang Fire.” Not that it’s a bad thing, I’ve always liked that song and this title track does cook but my ears can’t ignore the comparison between the two songs. It does have a cool guitar solo. They go more old school blues with “Had It With You” where Mick plays a mean harmonica before the album closes with the Richards sung ballad, “Sleep Tonight.” There is strong bayou blues feel on this song and it’s the perfect closer for the album. Unless you count the brief piano instrumental tagged on at the end.

Track Listing:

  1. One Hit (To the Body)
  2. Fight
  3. Harlem Shuffle
  4. Hold Out
  5. Too Rude
  6. Winning Ugly
  7. Back to Zero
  8. Dirty Work
  9. Had It With You
  10. Sleep Tonight
  11. Back to Zero

Rolling Stones

Mick Jagger- lead vocals, harmonica

Keith Richards- guitar, piano, backing vocals, lead vocal on “Too Rude” and “Sleep Tonight”

Ronnie Wood- guitar, pedal steel guitar, tenor saxophone, drums on “Sleep Tonight”

Bill Wyman- bass, synthesizer

Charlie Watts- drums

Additional Personnel:

Chuck Leavell- keyboards

Ivan Neville- backing vocals, bass, organ, synthesizer

Jimmy Page- electric guitar on “One Hit to the Body”

Bobby Womack- backing vocals, electric guitar on “Back to Zero”

Phillipe Saisse- keyboards

Anton Figg- shakers

John Regan- bass on “Winning Ugly”

Dan Collette- trumpet

Ian Stewart- piano

Marku Ribas- percussion

What Steve Lukather not on the album?

Jimmy Cliff, Don Covay, Beverly D’Anglelo, Kirsty MacColl, Dolette McDonald, Janet Pendarvis, Patti Schialfa, Tom Waits- backing vocals

With the “Dirty Work” album, I was reassured that the Rolling Stones were now back to what made them great. Silly me to have ever doubted them.

Next post: It’s up to you the reader. Should I take a step back to 1985 and post Mick Jagger’s “She’s the Boss” album? Or should I continue with 1986 which the next post would be Rush- Power Windows. Please vote!

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11 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1986: Rolling Stones- Dirty Work”

  1. I like a lot of 80s Stones. Emotional Rescue is one of their best! And I don’t hate Dirty Work…One Hit to the Body is still great.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Next up, I wouldn’t mind reading about Mick’s album since I’m not too familiar with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never really liked this one, but you make a good case for it. I’d always found it a bit too deliberate in its aim to sound like a Stones album (if that makes sense), but I’ll go give it a listen.

    …as for next post, I say go for a wee trip back to 1985.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m with you, I can NOT believe there is no Lukather. How dare anyone in 85 release an album without him on it. As I said on another album, pretty impressive guest list.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. […] Source: Great Rock Albums of 1986: Rolling Stones- Dirty Work | 80smetalman’s Blog […]

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