Mick Jagger is rock’s premier frontman and one of the most popular and influential musicians of all time. Instantly recognizable as the iconic lead singer of The Rolling Stones, he has set standards for performance and creativity that remain unmatched to this day. He is a prolific songwriter, a successful producer and a lauded solo artist in his own right.
Released January 25, 1985
Mick Jagger’s first proper solo album, “She’s The Boss” was released in Feb 1985 and was an immediate worldwide hit. The first single “Just Another Night” was a number 1 US Rock Chart hit, as were subsequent singles “She’s the Boss” and “Lucky in Love”. The album was clearly a 1980′s dance record. It overflowed with cool production tricks and the songs sounded very muscular.
Mick’s unerring eye for talent led him to engage 2 uber cool producers to co-produce the tracks on the album with him. The first, avant funk king Bill Laswell’s producing credits had included Herbie Hancock’s seminal “Futureshock” album as well as classic late 1970′s and 1980′s funk albums featuring members of Parliament-Funkadelic, Maceo Parker and Sly Stone. The other producer, Nile Rodgers had done the producing chores on David Bowie’s “Lets Dance” and “The Honeydrippers Volume 1″ featuring Robert Plant, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.
Mick started composing the songs for his solo album in 1983. The musicians engaged by the three producers for the sessions included Jeff Beck, Sly Dunbar, Jan Hammer, Herbie Hancock, Robbie Shakespeare, Pete Townshend, Chuck Leavell, Lenny Pickett, and Michael Shrieve. In all, 30 of the top musicians of the decade performed on various tracks. Herbie Hancock, who added an amazing garageband organ to “Lonely at the Top” commented that he “didn’t realize that Mick had such an amazing sense of poetry in his conception of music. He gets you to bring out what he wants from the music with gestures or sounds or facial expressions. I’m used to seeing that from jazz players”.
In Micks own words: “My intention was to write songs that were slightly left of the mainstream. I wanted to write songs about personal relationships. And as I was writing the songs I was thinking visually, cinematic. Keith and I had been producing our stuff for a long time. I felt strongly that if I was going to release a solo record, I needed to focus on my performances without having the responsibility of also producing the record. I though that just for fun maybe I’d use more than one producer. I thought it would be very good to try it with two very different people, Bill Laswell and Nile Rodgers. Bill Laswell is a real kind of thinking guy. I had liked the stuff that he did with Material. And so we sat around talking about musicians and the ideas sort of fell into place. And I was aware that Nile Rodgers was working with Jeff Beck on his album, so I though that maybe it would be good to do some tracks with Nile and Jeff.”
“I started off with the rhythm section of Sly Dunbar on drums and Robbie Shakespeare on bass, along with Jeff Beck on guitar and Jan Hammer on keyboards. And then everyone else just seemed to jump in. Unlike all of the popular records of those days which were recorded in layers, my record was more or less recorded live with this core group of musicians and then added to. I knew it was never going to sound like the Rolling Stones, and the great thing about it was the mystery. I was throwing elements together, and I didn’t know what was going to happen, nor did the musicians. And we were all having fun”.
Released September 14, 1987
Mick Jagger’s second proper solo album, PRIMITIVE COOL was released in September 1987. Unlike the sonically diverse SHES THE BOSS, Mick decided this time to make an album with a more unified sound, hiring Jeff Beck to play guitar on all of the sessions. He filled out the rhythm section with Doug Wimbish on bass and Simon Phillips on drums. Wimbish had achieved legendary status for his bass playing on the Grandmaster Flash epochal MESSAGE album as well as for his mid 1980ʹ′s avant garde ‘Funkadelic meets Lee Perry’ group Fats Comet. Phillips was considered to be an elite drummer, having previously played with The Who, Frank Zappa, Peter Gabriel and Stanley Clarke. For the co-producing chores Mick engaged renowned Trinidadian programmer Keith Diamond (writer/producer of Billy Ocean’s “Caribbean Queen”) for half of the tracks, and the Eurythmics David Stewart for the other half.
The first single “Lets Work”, co-written with Dave Stewart, received alot of worldwide airplay. In fact Mick toured Japan and Australia the following year in support of the album. His core band included Joe Satriani on guitar, Doug Wimbish on bass, and Simon Phillips on drums.
All of the songs on the album contained strong melodies with power and motion. Many reviewers commented on the fact that Mick’s singing exhibited diversity and commitment. Bass player Wimbish said that “Mick would describe the setting of each song, paint a picture for me. Mick communicates from the heart. He knows what’s needed and when he doesn’t know, he doesn’t mind asking”.
In Micks own words at the time: “I wrote alot of songs for this record. I spent time in the countryside because I found I was writing better melodies out there. You need to get away from the constant noise so the melodies you have in the back of your mind come to you easier. My main thing is to sing, but my most enjoyable thing is writing, the buzz when you first write that tune”.
“I started demoing my songs on keyboard and then programmed the drum machines. As with my first solo LP, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do and what it should sound like. This time though I knew the songs better. I’d demoed them more, sung them longer. I was more confident. I wanted the guitar, bass and drums to be the same people. I had different keyboard players, different textures and so on, but I didn’t think the core should shift. I had shifted that around on the first album and it didn’t work as well as it could have. The musicians that played on this album were very talented and they had ideas, but most of the songs came out as I planned them on my demos”.
“My new album is different from SHES THE BOSS because that album was more city fed. I’m not saying this is a country album, it’s just a little more considered and has a little wider range of music and lyrics”.
February 8, 1993
Mick Jagger’s third proper solo album, “Wandering Spirit” was released in Feb. 1993. The third single “Don’t Tear Me Up” topped the US Billboard Rock Tracks list for two weeks. Critics raved about the album noting Mick’s abandonment of synthesizers in favor of a lean and mean guitar sound. They also noted that his voice seemed to have developed a deeper bottom end without sacrificing any of the highs.
For this go around, Mick engaged the noted rock producer Rick Rubin, whose muscular production work on the Cult’s “Electric” as well as the Chili Peppers “Blood Sugar Sex, Majik” had caught Mick’s attention.
A variety of musicians contributed performances to the album including Flea on bass, Billy Preston and Benmont Tench on organ and piano, and Jim Keltner on drums. Mick himself is credited with lead vocals, guitar, clavinet, harmonica and percussion.
Mick’s compositions were very wide ranging on this release (in a similar vein to the way he and Keith had composed songs for earlier Rolling Stones records). In fact Mick is quoted at the time as saying that “Actually it is not really a rock album per se. I don’t want to put anyone off, but if you look at it, there are only maybe three rock songs on it in the traditional form. The rest is R&B, or country, or gospel influenced, or rockabilly, or whatever. To me this is like a 92, 93 record. I’m not trying to go into any new form of music, because there is nothing out there that I want to push or get involved with that I am not already involved with.”
In Micks own words: “I was very relaxed about this record. No overall atmosphere of hostility. The rest of the Stones had all made solo LP’s. Charlie made his Charlie Parker album. Keith made his second solo album and Ronnie made a record. Even Bill made a record. In the process of writing my record there were a couple of songs where I said that’s going to sound great with The Stones, so I won’t use it. I’ve done many musical styles at one time or another, successfully or not. I’ve just never done them on one record. It can be slightly worrying, if it flies in too many directions. I guess a solo album is my chance to express some other musical thing. With a solo album you can do a folk song with just a fiddle if you want, because no one’s going to say anything.”
Released November 19, 2001
Mick Jagger’s fourth proper solo album, “Goddess in the Doorway” was released in November 2001. Pete Townshend had been the initiating force behind the album, having heard some of Mick’s demos and telling him that they didn’t sound like Rolling Stones songs and that Mick should record them on his own. The first single “God Gave Me Everything” was co-written and co-produced by Lenny Kravitz who also played guitar and bass on the track.
Mick engaged five other co-producers on the album (in addtion to Kravitz). The majority of the tracks were co-produced by Marti Frederiksen (a frequent collaborator with Aerosmith in the 1990′s), and Matt Clifford (a Stones/Jagger collaborator since the “Steel Wheels days). Wyclef Jean and his partner Jerry Duplessis co-produced “Hide Away”. Mick started writing and demoing songs for the album in September 1999 at his home studios in France and England. The musicians engaged for the subsequent recording sessions included Pete Townshend, Jim Keltner, Bono, Joe Perry, Missy Elliott, Rob Thomas and Kenny Aronoff.
In December 2001, Jann Wenner, legendary editor, writer, and publisher of Rolling Stone magazine wrote in his five star review of the album: “In terms of consistency, craftsmanship, and musical experimentation, this album surpasses all of Jagger’s solo work and any Rolling Stones album since “Some Girls“. The album is almost entirely constructed around Jagger’s rhythm guitar. It is an insuperbly strong record that in time may well reveal itself to be a classic”. According to Wyclef Jean during the making of the album “I was watching Mick singing in a booth and was thinking wow what Mick just did reminds me of how Bono, Sting and the other great ones move. Then I realized I wasn’t watching Mick imitate, it was Mick simply being Mick. All of the others have taken pieces of him”.
In Micks own words: “These are all personal songs. The concept was all about creating personal songs that could be sung directly to you. If you wanted you could sing these songs in a kitchen more or less with an acoustic guitar. So the album would basically be like a guy with a guitar singing a tune. And if the songs would stand it, we wanted to have some orchestration with it as well. But it’s about the songs and what they are saying”.
“Alot of the album is just about me playing guitar and then getting other people involved. So I’m playing an awful lot, which as it goes on gets erased by other people coming in and playing better, but it’s still all based on these parts that I originally created”.
Mick Jagger teamed up with Eurythmics founder Dave Stewart, soul singer Joss Stone, Academy Award winning composer and global superstar A.R. Rahman and reggae star Damian Marley to form a band cooperative project called SuperHeavy. This diverse and eclectic line up who share eleven Grammy Awards between them, recorded together in various studios around the world, with the majority of the tracks on the project laid down over three weeks in Los Angeles earlier this year. The album was released September 20, 2011 and album highlights include the first single ‘Miracle Worker’, plus ‘One Day One Night’, ‘Energy’, ‘Unbelievable,’ ‘SuperHeavy,’ I Can’t Take It No More,’ ‘You’re Never Gonna Change’ and ‘I Don’t Mind.’
SuperHeavy is the debut album by the rock supergroup SuperHeavy. The album was released by Universal Music on Universal Republic in the United States and on their A&M label for the rest of the world in September 2011.
Main Credits on the ‘SuperHeavy’ album are - Mick Jagger (vocals, guitar and harmonica), Dave Stewart (guitar), Joss Stone (vocals), Damian Marley (vocals) and A. R. Rahman (vocals plus a variety of keyboards).
The SuperHeavy album is co-produced by Jagger & Stewart.