Emotional Rescue

Emotional Rescue

At first blush, 1980’s Emotional Rescue felt like a quickie sequel to Some Girls: the tight sound, the disco tilt, the strutting mood. But on closer listen, the album has more in common with 1976’s Black and Blue: The sound may have been streamlined, but the feel was rangy and loose. Even in the bubble of megastardom you could hear the band absorbing the outside: “Emotional Rescue” and “Dance, Pt. 1” reflected the magpie fusions of disco and post-punk (and Latin music and soul and whatever else) unfolding in New York during the early 1980s, while “Where the Boys Go”—the glammy lyric, Jagger’s faux-cockney inflection—was hard-rock cosplay for men no longer fighting middle age. “Indian Girl” presaged the pan-global roots rock the band explored in the 1990s, while their grip on reggae had progressed to a point where they could use it as base stock instead of the soup itself (“Send It to Me”). They’d gone back to seduction through objectification (“She’s So Cold” compares a woman to a car, “Emotional Rescue” to a show dog) and were as arrogant in their allusions to homosexuality (“Let Me Go,” the pub chant of “Where the Boys Go”) as they’d ever been about being straight. (Not to mention the unnerving conflations of sex and money, especially coming from guys who probably would never have to worry about either ever again.) But like on 1978’s Some Girls, the agitation and predatory vibes that fueled their girl-chasing in the ’60s had mellowed into ironic posture, something almost bittersweet. At a mean age of 38, the band weren’t boys anymore. But they had the heart to remember how the boys felt and the—let’s call it “stones”—to lay it down.

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