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Keith Richards – Main Offender

Whenever the Stones couldn’t get it together to make a record, everybody went off and made solo records. This has happened several times, to varying degrees of success, over the forty plus years they’ve been at it. But if you ask me, wherever Keef is concerned, it’s never a miss.

Like Talk Is Cheap, this effort proves that the riffs and sound just seems to ooze from his very being, since he is built on these very things. It’s a strong sound, built to last. That chunky guitar, buoyed by those popping, almost-swing (and awesomely loud) drums, that slinky bass, those ragged vocals…

You can tell Keef still wants to be in his band – listen to him on the single, Wicked As It Seems, “Why don’t you get… get all over me?” and “it’s not enough, not enough for me.” Stabs at Mick? Probably. Theirs has certainly been a contentious and turbulent relationship, where Keith is sure all they need to do is cut the shit, get past the ego, and make music.

Could most of these have been Stones songs? Sure, absolutely. The entire sound is there. Though, admittedly, it might be too far for the Stones to follow Keith out onto his reggae limb with tunes like Words Of Wonder, though Mick would love the obviously Motown-soaked Hate It When You Leave. But, as it stands, these are not Stones songs. They are Keith, just doing what Keith does, if left in his natural state. You can almost taste the whiskey and cigarettes as you listen to this. To be in that room… Magic.

Start to finish, this is a gold mine.

Keith Richards – Life

I loved this book. Yes, I am a huge Stones fan with strong bias about Keith’s guitar genius firmly in place, so it was a given I’d read it cover to cover. But even if I wasn’t a fan at all, this book is so worth it.

The story of the Rolling Stones has been rehashed so many times over the past four plus decades, so much so that truth gets blurred into fiction and back again so that even the principal players might be forgiven for forgetting what really happened. But this book doesn’t re-tell the stories so much as offer Keith’s opinions on what happened, which is completely refreshing.

And yes, the man did party hard, and there were points when he was lucky to stay alive, but he still seems clear enough on the details. He’s a no-nonsense lover of blues and rock, calling it like he sees it. He’s a loveable pirate and a true friend and as loyal to his band as they come. He looks out for number one, and humbly lays out riffs others would kill for as if it weren’t a big deal. He’s also rock music’s Yogi Berra, and there were many, many points in the book where I just laughed out loud at his outbursts.

The man has lived at least three lifetimes in his life, an incredible existence he seems to take in stride, with clear-eyed respect and understanding of himself. It was such a pleasure to read this book. Thanks, Keef.

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