Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Rolling Stones - Undercover of the Night

The 1980's were tough on the Rolling Stones.  The group had been around for twenty years by the early part of the decade, an eternity in the music industry.  In addition, the punk, new wave, and metal scenes made their music seem old fashioned to many younger listeners.

To complicate matter further, Mike Jagger and Keith Richards had a fundamental disagreement over songwriting.  Jagger wanted to move in a more current dance/pop direction, while Richards wished to stay true to the roughed up blues sound that was the Stone's signature.  (For more on this, please see our earlier post for Keith Richards solo video, "Take It So Hard.")

The result was disjointed and mostly disappointing, though there was some solid material mixed in.  Sadly, much of this material was composed by either Richards or Jagger, due to the difficulty that they had in working together.

Which brings us to "Undercover of the Night," the lead single off the Stone's 1983 Undercover album.  The song was all Mick; supposedly Keith just showed up and played some guitar lines.  Jagger has since said that the concept for the song came from the William Burroughs novel Cities of the Red Night.

The video for "Undercover of the Night" was the first full-on production that the Stones released.  Directed by Julien Temple, the story was dark and violent -- in fact, Temple has said that he didn't believe that the band would use it.  MTV would only air an edited version of the vid (and only at night), but this did not seem to hurt sales.  The single would go on to hit #9 on the charts, while the album reached #4 (breaking a string of eight consecutive LPs to hit #1).  By the by, due to the violent imagery of the video, the band cut a second version, which is below.

As of this writing, the Stones remain mostly intact (bassist Bill Wyman left the group in 1993) and continue to  sporadically tour, although they have not released a new album since 2005's A Bigger Bang.

In the interests of completeness, here is the B version video of "Undercover:" (Not nearly as good as the original clip, in our opinion).


  1. Sandinista! (El Salvador!) A bubbling up classic grit video from the Stones.

    [So is that like you in the vid? The guy just wants to rock & make out but she just wants to watch & get smart... Just to be clear that is not me with you in the video, if that is indeed you. Because I was watching this vid up in Boston then and now... Boston, rock on. -- Boston Rock writer out.]

    1. I have no idea how to respond to this comment ... except to say that in my younger days, I liked to rock out AND hang out with lovely young women (not that I was terribly good at the latter). Rock on, Boston.