Review Revue: Keith Richards – Talk Is Cheap

What better way to cause an existential crisis (or at least a flurry of passionate scribbling on little white labels) at an independent college radio station than to add an album by one of the most famous people in rock music to its rotation? I certainly don’t doubt that whoever the poor music director was who added Keith Richards’s debut solo album, Talk Is Cheap, to light rotation had only the best of intentions. “Hey,” he or she might have thought, “who cares if this guy is (or, I guess at the time, was) in the Rolling Stones? He’s a kickass guitar player, and this record is actually pretty good. Let’s throw it in L and see what folks think? What could be the harm?”

Turns out, as regular readers of this series might have guessed, that there were several who did see harm, and would not be silenced. But some folks actually were pretty into it, and the station has not since become dominated by the likes of Keith, Robert Plant (OK, maybe those last two records, but those are seriously good), and Bruce Springsteen, so I guess in the end it all turned out all right.

“A lot of this sounds like old Stones. It’s pretty cool. Don’t be a snob — give this disc a try. A lot of great musicians are on this & it shows. Funk, soul, gospel, cajun: it’s all here. Most of all, tho’, Keef’s playing is superb. A great effort.”

“I AGREE!”

“The last gasp from a dying era and an attempt to harvest past glories draped in re-arranged clothes. We need this like a hole in the head. Maybe we can talk KISW, KZOK, KXRX into playing the Hafler Trio or something.”

“Is this guy branching out? Not really. Is it superb? No. Are we going to start adding Robert Plant & Brooce?”

“This disc was made for beer money.”

“10 years ago it would have been for a different drug.”

“What the fuck is this doing in rotation — even on the premises of — KCMU? My few remaining doubts about the direction this station is taking are substantially diminished by this addition. Help!”

“The holier than thou elitism of a few of these comments makes me chuckle. As if putting any record in light rotation signals a new direction for the station. A small dose of popular music does no one any harm (especially if it’s as good as this). Popularity has nothing to do with quality. Naive teenyboppers think music has to be popular to be good, while more-educated folk make an equally silly assumption, which is ‘all popular music is crap’ and only worthy of condescension and disdain. Face it, folks — most of the music we play is based on popular art forms, such as rock ‘n’ roll, blues, reggae, etc. We play very little music that isn’t at least potentially popular in its structure and appeal. If you’re so disgusted with popular music just because it’s popular (this disc kicks ass on many blues and roots rock records in our library), try KUOW.”

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