- Boasting superb Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides, this vintage copy of the Stones’ 1981 release will be very hard to beat
- The midrange is both rich and clear, with Jagger’s vocals front and center, exactly where they belong
- The piano has real weight, the grungy guitars are suitably distorted, and the tonal balance is correct from top to bottom – our classic Hot Stamper sound in a nutshell
- 4 1/2 stars: “Tattoo You captures the Stones at their best as a professional stadium-rock band… “Waiting on a Friend” and the vigorous rock & roll of the first side make Tattoo You an essential latter-day Stones album, ranking just a few notches below Some Girls.”
- If you’re a Stones fan, this title from 1981 is one of their better later releases
- The complete list of titles from 1981 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here
In the tradition of other late ’70s / early ’80s Stones albums (Some Girls, Goats Head Soup, It’s Only Rock And Roll), the sound is a bit raw at times, but a copy like this one gives you the kind of energy, body and richness to make for some very enjoyable serious listening.
The sound here is big and rich, with more “meat on the bones” as we like to say. The guitars are chunky and powerful, which exactly the sound you want for a song like Start Me Up, which leads things off here. The best sides have more extension up top and more size to the soundfield as well.
As with any Stones album, don’t expect any sonic miracles. Hot Stampers aren’t going to turn this into Tea For The Tillerman. If you want to hear an amazing sounding Demo Quality record, this ain’t it, but if you love this music and are frustrated with the sound of the typical pressing, I bet you’ll enjoy the heck outta this one.
This vintage pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What the Best Sides of Tattoo You Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes even as late as 1981
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
What We’re Listening For on Tattoo You
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt — Chris Kimsey in this case — would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Start Me Up
Little T & A
Worried About You
No Use in Crying
Waiting on a Friend
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
Like Emotional Rescue before it, Tattoo You was comprised primarily of leftovers, but unlike its predecessor, it never sounds that way. Instead, Tattoo You captures the Stones at their best as a professional stadium-rock band. Divided into a rock & roll side and a ballad side, the album delivers its share of thrills on the tight, dynamic first side.
“Start Me Up” became the record’s definitive Stonesy rocker, but the frenzied doo wop of “Hang Fire,” the reggae jam of “Slave,” the sleazy Chuck Berry rockers “Little T&A” and “Neighbours,” and the hard blues of “Black Limousine” are all terrific. The ballad side suffers in comparison, especially since “Heaven” and “No Use in Crying” are faceless. But “Worried About You” and “Tops” are effortless, excellent ballads, and “Waiting on a Friend,” with its Sonny Rollins sax solo, is an absolute masterpiece, with a moving lyric that captures Jagger in a shockingly reflective and affecting state of mind.
“Waiting on a Friend” and the vigorous rock & roll of the first side make Tattoo You an essential latter-day Stones album, ranking just a few notches below Some Girls.