The Very Best Of Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger

Rhino, 2007

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


I promise you one thing -- you will not be bored by this set of tunes. It is quite the rocky ride listening to this hits package, but that is just part of the fun and thrill of it all.

Rhino Records has long been a champion of underrated music artists, and Mick Jagger as a solo performer is certainly no exception. More than anything, The Very Best Of Mick Jagger succeeds in capitalizing on producer Rick Rubin’s current popularity -- five of the 17 tracks are produced by him. Unfortunately, only two of stand out as being all that memorable: “Sweet Thing” from 1993’s Wandering Spirit and the spanking brand new “Checkin’ Up On My Baby.” The latter brings the ongoing Jagger/Rubin partnership to a whole new level, especially with its blazing blues harmonica opening.

While focusing so heavily on the Rubin material doesn’t exactly pay off, the remaining tracks certainly make up for it. Everything, that is, except the embarrassing ballads. The sad fact of the matter is, Mick Jagger needs to be kept as far away from slow songs as possible. His larger-than-life personality is one that is virtually impossible to be taken seriously, so the dismal foray into country (“Evening Gown,”) the detour into cheap-sounding reggae (“You Got To Walk (And Don’t Look Back)”) and the clumsy misfire “Old Habits Die Hard” each deserve to be put out of their misery. They certainly do not belong on any greatest hits package, no less Mick Jagger. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

So what, might you ask, does work on this long-awaited hits compilation by Mr. Big Lips himself? “Let’s Work,” for starters. I admit, I’m a little guilty for admitting to liking this song, but it does rival another Dave Stewart production, “Don’t Come Around Here No More” by Tom Petty, for sheer entertainment value. What can I say, I’m a sucker for big hooks and rhythmic festive fare. Hell, I also like the Mick Jagger/David Bowie remake of “Dancing In The Street,” which brings back the Live Aid summer of 1985 so vividly in all of its gaudy splendor. And, although it does suffer from over-production, the recent “Joy” is helped along by none other than Bono and Pete Townshend. Can’t go wrong there.

Elsewhere on this pleasantly surprising hits collection, you will find Mick singing in his “Miss You” falsetto on “Sweet Thing,” tempting club DJs with another irresistible new track “Charmed Life” and dusting off the sadly forgotten hit single “Just Another Night,” reminding us of where it all began once Mick went solo. Unfortunately, the follow-up “Lonely At The Top” is nowhere to be found, which almost makes me wish I owned She’s The Boss. Almost.

The two standouts that make this a must-own are the John Lennon-produced “Too Many Cooks” and the Performance classic “Memo From Turner,” both of which transport the listener back to the down and dirty early 70s. Mick was always at his best whenever he dared to venture into gritty, urban music territory. For “Too Many Cooks” to have been unreleased to this day is something of a surprise. For it to be the funky soul classic that it turns out to be makes it even more of an undiscovered treasure worth finding.

Now that this puppy has been let out and can finally see the light of day, maybe the critics out there will stop taking potshots at Jagger's solo career and instead measure it on its own merits, instead of the merits of the Stones.

Rating: B

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© 2007 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Rhino, and is used for informational purposes only.