Tattoo You is a collection of outtakes from The Rolling Stones’ sessions from between 1972 sessions for Goat’s Head Soup and 1980’s Undercover. The band raided their vaults because Mick Jagger and Keith Richards’ relationship was difficult at the time, although a lot of the songs were instrumentals which Jagger needed to add lyrics and vocals to. Improbably, Tattoo You is arguably stronger than any of the parent albums that it’s drawn from. It benefits from its diversity, since it covers ground from almost ten years of sessions, from the R&B of ‘Worried About You’, from the Black and Blue sessions to the sunny pop of ‘Waiting For A Friend’ from 1972, and the riff rock of ‘Hang Fire’.
The album begins with the infectious riff rock of ‘Start Me Up’, which kicks off the opening side of rockers. Richards gets a vocal showcase on ‘Little T&A’, while ‘Hang Fire’ is urgent and raucous. On the mellow side, there’s the sunny ‘Waiting On A Friend’, which has always reminded me of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Coyote’ – ‘Coyote’ was released in 1976, but ‘Waiting on a Friend’ was first recorded in 1972. Wayne Perkins plays guitar on ‘Worried About You’, while Jagger employs his falsetto.
Tattoo You, an album of outtakes, is my favourite of the post 1972 Rolling Stones albums that I’m familiar with.