1978 found Keith Richards starting to get clean and falling in love with a 22 year old model named Patti Hanson. While he continued to drink heavily at times, his worst addictive days were behind him.
There is a story about Hanson bringing the 36 year old Richards home to meet her parents. I have two daughters and can only imagine one of them walking through the door with Keith Richards. Emotional Rescue, released in June of 1980, was more a victim of disinterest than anything else. Richards was recovering from addiction and carving out a new relationship, Mick was more into jet setting and vacations, Charlie Watts was breeding sheep dogs, and Bill Wyman was threatening to quit the band. In the midst of all this unrest the Rolling Stones recorded an album.
In many ways Emotional Rescue is a poor second cousin to Some Girls. The styles and musical textures are similar but the songs were not as strong. Overall this can be considered an average, at best, Rolling Stones effort. I have always considered this release to be a little off kilter as the stronger songs were at the end of the album. I have the original LP and side two was played a lot more often than the A side.
“She’s So Cold” is an above average rocker with some frenetic drumming by Watts supported by Bill Wyman’s bass. “Emotional Rescue” would reach number three as a single release. It was another Rolling Stones disco effort complete with Mick Jagger’s falsetto vocal. I am not a fan of disco and particularly Stones disco, but this song was wildly popular in the dance clubs of the day. More telling though is the fact that it has never been a part of the Stones live act.
Keith would play some fine blues guitar on “Down In The Hole” with Mick’s harp floating in and out. “All About You” was a Richards vocal that may or may not have been his closure to the Anita Pallenberg relationship.
Side one of the original album release was more problematic. “Dance (Pt. 1)” was another disco tinged tune that ultimately was uninteresting. “Send It To Me” was a failed experiment in reggae. Charlie Watts either did not get this form of music or did not care. “Indian Girl” is one of the strangest songs in Rolling Stones history. This song about revolution against United States aggression in Central America and featured mariachi brass, a marimba or two, and odd guitar sounds.
The most interesting song was “Let Me Go.” This average country based tune with Ron Wood’s steel guitar would be re-released in a much different form on the Still Life live album. This far superior live version would show that the Rolling Stones could interpret their own music and elevate it to a higher level.
Despite the quality of the music, Emotional Rescue would continue the string of Rolling Stones hit albums. Shortly after its release The Stones would begin a re-grouping process as a new decade dawned and would plan to finally head out on the road again.