Happy Birthday Mick Jagger

It is Jumping Jack Flash's birthday. He is, as you will already know, a man of wealth and taste. Every year I remember Mick Jagger's birthday. I have never been sure why - beyond the fact that it's in the same month as my birthday and, well, we often remember those in the same month as our own, right? Right? Well, that's my excuse...because, otherwise, it would be weird. I mean I remembered Jagger's birthday in the pre-internet days, it's not like I just checked with the oracle to confirm it's his birthday.

Mick Jagger will be 67 this year.

This year I decided I would give him a gift. The gift of my time. I sat and listened to The Very Best of Mick Jagger. What a truly awful compilation of his solo material this is. Not that there's a lot to work with; not a lot can be done...

The first Mick Jagger solo album was She's the Boss, released in 1985. Then there was Primitive Cool, a couple of years on. Then Wandering Spirit in the early 90s and Goddess in the Doorway in 2001. So The Very Best Of takes from all of those and adds novelties such as the embarrassing duet with David Bowie.

At some point I have collected all of the Mick Jagger solo albums; odd, really. She's the Boss was given to me - my auntie's cassette tape handed down. I liked the album, well, the song Just Another Night. But then, I was a fan of Undercover, the album by The Rolling Stones that preceded She's the Boss. It has not stood the test of time. It's one of many albums from that era that sounds instantly dated, mired in ugly production.

But I really liked Primitive Cool - and still do. Only Let's Work made it to The Very Best of Mick Jagger and it's probably my least favourite song from the album. I still play Primitive Cool; still rate it. It's probably because it was released when I was 11 and I was just getting into the Stones, listening to my mum's LPs of Undercover and Dirty Work and finding out about all the great things this band had done long before my time on this planet started.

Primitive Cool also has Jeff Beck all over it. And I was (and still am) a big fan of Beck.

Wandering Spirit came into our house because my brother purchased it. So I'm blaming him. I think he liked it. Jagger calls in Lenny Kravitz for a thoroughly unnecessary cover of Bill Withers' Use Me. The hit from the album was Don't Tear Me Up, a song that sits perfectly between the Stones of Steel Wheels and Voodoo Lounge. Sadly it's more towards Voodoo Lounge than Steel Wheels.

And then Goddess in the Doorway arrived just after I had started writing CD reviews for The Dominion Post. I remember being kind enough to the album - I was young and silly, I had just started reviewing in earnest. But I can't say I have gone back to hear the album since then.

I will say that The Very Best of Mick Jagger is not a good collection to work through. It doesn't make you want to listen to any of the solo albums. It doesn't make you think that he has been underappreciated as a solo artist. It doesn't make you wait for news that there will be a new Jagger solo album.

Readers of Blog on the Tracks will know I'm a bit of a Stones fan - I've written about the band a few times already. They are crucial to my appreciation of music, formative. A band the whole family loves and therefore important to me in the scheme of my listening, in how I came to value music and associate experiences with music.

I've collected solo albums from all of the Stones. And I would rather listen to Bill Wyman's Monkey Grip before a repeat of The Very Best of Mick Jagger. I would definitely take Keith's Main Offender or the live album over The Very Best of Mick Jagger. And I'd listen to Charlie playing jazz or Ron Wood doing his best Bob Dylan impersonation before I'd play The Very Best of Mick Jagger.

But Happy Birthday Mr Jagger - please just don't quit your day job. Or if you do, retire completely. We do not want any more solo albums from you - nor do we want a sequel to Freejack.

Did you like any of Jagger's solo material? Or any of the Stones' solo work for that matter? Who was/is your favourite Stone alone?

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