Monday, November 5, 2007

Let's Work

The other day on the radio I heard a song featuring the unmistakable vocals of Mick Jagger, but with a band that sounded far too loose to be the Rolling Stones, and sure enough, it was "Too Many Cooks," a Jagger solo joint from the early 1970s, produced in full "Whatever Gets You Through the Night" mode by none other than John Lennon. This horn-laden, swamp-thick R&B number was released, for the first time anywhere, on Jagger's recent solo best-of, bringing up the question, where has this tune been?

The song was cut in West Los Angeles, with a recording date given as either November 1973 or May 1974, during Lennon's extended Lost Weekend in Hollywood. I think it's great that two of the biggest stars in music would sit down in the studio and cut a record -- featuring a scorching vocal -- with a big-name band (Jim Keltner played drums, Bobby Keys played sax, Al Kooper played keyboards, etc.), yet have no plans to release it. (By the way, it amuses me to no end that among Lennon's drinking buddies during the Lost Weekend, alongside people like Harry Nilsson and Keith Moon, was none other than the Monkees' Micky Dolenz.)

On a videotape I have called "25 x 5: The Continuing Aventures of the Rolling Stones," Mick and Keith bicker over who abandoned the band for a solo project first. Mick put out his first solo album, She's the Boss, in 1985, which greatly irritated Keith, who always demanded fierce and total loyalty to the band. (After Mick Taylor, whom Keith didn't even like, quit the Stones, Keith thundered, "No one should leave this band except in a pine box," despite the fact that he and Mick had just fired Brian Jones a few years earlier, although in Brian's case, the pine box was not long in coming.) Mick countered that Keith had done his solo thing first with the New Barbarians, a short-lived band that formed to play a court-ordered charity concert in Toronto in 1979 after a Richards' drug bust and included Ronnie Wood and a few other Stones' hangers-on for a subsequent tour. But there was clear acrimony there.

I wonder if that's why "Too Many Cooks" never saw the light of day. Jagger had license to sing and make recordings but whether because of loyalty or outright fear, he didn't want to offend Keith by actually putting out a record.

If you haven't heard the song, here's a non-video video of it:

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