Keith Richards: Talk Is Cheap Limited Edition Super Deluxe Box Set
The Rolling Stones have always been greater than the sum of their parts. Every member of the band has, at one time or another, released a solo album, but none ever made it into the Billboard Top 10 during the band’s heyday. (Mick Jagger came close at one point, peaking at No. 11 with his 1993 Wandering Spirit set.) Quality-wise, the solo recordings have been all over the place but, arguably, the best of the lot was Keith Richards’ first, 1988’s Talk Is Cheap . Made at a time when he and Jagger were feuding over the direction of the Stones, the album was raw and gutsy—exactly what Jagger was trying to get away from. Co-written and co-produced by drummer Steve Jordan, and cut with a killer band—the X-Pensive Winos, he called them—including bassist Charley Drayton, keyboardist Ivan Neville, guitarist Waddy Wachtel and a load of A-list guests, the album gave Richards his highest-profile opportunity outside of the Stones to show his strengths as composer, singer and player. Again, it wasn’t a huge seller (peaked at No. 24), but the music holds up well (particularly the single “Take It So Hard”), enough to justify the overstuffed box set treatment. Here you get the original album and a set of six worth-hearing session outtakes (four with Chuck Berry’s pianist, Johnnie Johnson) on CD and vinyl, a pair of reproduced 7-inch singles, a beautifully illustrated 80-page hardcover, and various odds and ends (lyric sheets, guitar pick, posters, etc.). If the Stones had called it quits back there in 1988, then Talk Is Cheap might very well have served as a commendable launching pad for Richards’ solo career. As it stands, it’s mainly a footnote, but hardcore Keith-philes will welcome the upgrade.