Steel Wheels

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Steel Wheels
SteelWheels89.jpg
Studio album by
Released29 August 1989
Recorded29 March – 5 May 1989
Studio
Genre
Length53:03
Label
ProducerChris Kimsey, The Glimmer Twins
The Rolling Stones chronology
Dirty Work
(1986)
Steel Wheels
(1989)
Flashpoint
(1991)
Singles from Steel Wheels
  1. "Mixed Emotions"
    Released: 17 August 1989
  2. "Rock and a Hard Place"
    Released: 4 November 1989
  3. "Almost Hear You Sigh"
    Released: January 1990
  4. "Terrifying"
    Released: 1990

Steel Wheels is the 19th British (and 21st American) studio album by British rock band the Rolling Stones. Released on 29 August 1989, it was the final album of new material that the band would record for Columbia Records.

Heralded as a major comeback upon its release, Steel Wheels is notable for the patching up of the working relationship between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, a reversion to a more classic style of music and the launching of the band's biggest world tour to date. It is also the final full-length studio album to involve long-time bassist Bill Wyman, preceding the announcement of his departure in January 1993. Wyman's final tenure with the band would be on two studio tracks for the 1991 album Flashpoint. Steel Wheels was also the first album not to feature former member and frequent contributor on piano Ian Stewart, who died shortly before the release of their previous album Dirty Work. It was produced by Richards and Jagger, along with Chris Kimsey, who had previously produced the Stones' 1983 Undercover.

After the relative disappointment of their prior two albums, Steel Wheels was a hit, reaching multi-platinum status in the United States, Top 5 status in numerous markets around the world, and spawning two hit singles: "Mixed Emotions," which peaked at No. 1 in Canada and No. 5 in the United States, and "Rock and a Hard Place", the band's last Top-40 hit in the US. Critics were generally lukewarm towards the album, exemplified by Stephen Thomas Erlewine: 'It doesn't make for a great Stones album, but it's not bad, and it feels like a comeback.'

Background[edit]

Following the release of 1986's Dirty Work, and Jagger's pursuit of a solo career, relations between him and the Stones-committed Richards worsened considerably. While Jagger released the tepidly received Primitive Cool in 1987, Richards recorded Talk Is Cheap, his solo debut, released in 1988 to positive reviews. The two years apart appeared to have healed the wounds sufficiently to begin resurrecting their partnership and band.

Meeting in January 1989, just preceding the Stones' induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the chemistry between Jagger and Richards easily outshone whatever differences they had, and after composing some 50 songs in a matter of weeks, Ronnie Wood, Wyman and Charlie Watts were called in to begin recording what would become Steel Wheels, beckoning Undercover co-producer Chris Kimsey to perform the same role.

Recording in Montserrat and London during the spring, Steel Wheels was designed to emulate a classic Rolling Stones sound. One notable exception was "Continental Drift," an Eastern-flavoured piece, with The Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar, recorded in June 1989 in Tangier, coordinated by Cherie Nutting. With much of the past disagreements behind them, sessions for Steel Wheels were fairly harmonious.

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3/5 stars[1]
Christgau's Record GuideB–[2]
The Great Rock Discography6/10[3]
MusicHound2.5/5[4]
Q4/5 stars[5]
Record Collector3/5 stars[5]
Rolling Stone4.5/5 stars[6]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[7]
Tom HullB–[8]
Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[3]

The massive, worldwide Steel Wheels Tour was launched in late August 1989, concurrently with Steel Wheels' arrival and the release of lead single "Mixed Emotions," a partially biographical reference to Jagger and Richards' recent woes that proved to be the Rolling Stones' last major hit single in the United States, reaching No. 5. Critical reaction was warm, with Steel Wheels reaching No. 2 in the UK and No. 3 in the US where it went double-platinum. Follow-up singles were "Rock and a Hard Place," "Almost Hear You Sigh" and "Terrifying." The Steel Wheels Tour, which finished in mid-1990 after being re-titled the Urban Jungle Tour, was a financial success. In 1990, FOX aired a 3-D television special of the Steel Wheels tour. Unlike anaglyphic 3-D which requires the familiar red and green glasses, the method used was the Pulfrich Effect which permitted full-colour video. The film was shot by Gerald Marks of PullTime 3-D in NYC. An IMAX film of the tour was released the next year, which still[when?] plays sporadically at IMAX venues[example needed] around the world[where?].

Anthony DeCurtis of Rolling Stone writes "All the ambivalence, recriminations, attempted rapprochement and psychological one-upmanship evident on Steel Wheels testify that the Stones are right in the element that has historically spawned their best music – a murky, dangerously charged environment in which nothing is merely what it seems. Against all odds, and at this late date, the Stones have once again generated an album that will have the world dancing to deeply troubling, unresolved emotions."

Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic writes "The Stones sound good, and Mick and Keith both get off a killer ballad apiece with "Almost Hear You Sigh" and "Slipping Away," respectively. It doesn't make for a great Stones album, but it's not bad, and it feels like a comeback – which it was supposed to, after all."[1]

In 2000 it was voted number 568 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums.[9]

The album was the Rolling Stones' first digital recording. In 1994, Steel Wheels was remastered and reissued by Virgin Records, and again in 2009 by Universal Music. An SHM-CD version was released on 2 December 2015 by Universal Japan, mastered from the original British master tape.[10]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, except "Almost Hear You Sigh" co-written by Steve Jordan.

Side one
No.TitleLength
1."Sad Sad Sad"3:35
2."Mixed Emotions"4:38
3."Terrifying"4:53
4."Hold On to Your Hat"3:32
5."Hearts for Sale"4:40
6."Blinded by Love"4:37
Total length:25:55
Side two
No.TitleLength
7."Rock and a Hard Place"5:25
8."Can't Be Seen"4:09
9."Almost Hear You Sigh"4:37
10."Continental Drift"5:14
11."Break the Spell"3:06
12."Slipping Away"4:29
Total length:27:00

Personnel[edit]

The Rolling Stones

  • Mick Jagger – lead and backing vocals, electric and acoustic guitars; harmonica, percussion, keyboards on "Continental Drift"
  • Keith Richards – electric, acoustic and classical guitar, backing vocals; lead vocals on "Can't Be Seen" and "Slipping Away"; bicycle spokes on "Continental Drift"
  • Ronnie Wood – electric and acoustic guitar, bass guitar and acoustic bass, dobro, backing vocals on "Almost Hear You Sigh"
  • Bill Wyman – bass guitar
  • Charlie Watts – drums

Additional musicians

Technical and design

Charts[edit]

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia 75,000[33]
Austria (IFPI Austria)[34] Gold 25,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[35] 3× Platinum 300,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[36] Gold 25,227[36]
France (SNEP)[38] 2× Gold 271,800[37]
Germany (BVMI)[39] Gold 250,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[41] Gold 167,000[40]
Netherlands (NVPI)[42] Gold 50,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[43] Gold 50,000^
Sweden (GLF)[44] Gold 50,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[45] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[46] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[47] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "Robert Christgau: CG: rolling stone". www.robertchristgau.com. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 13 March 2006.
  3. ^ a b "The Rolling Stones Steel Wheels". Acclaimed Music. Archived from the original on 27 November 2014. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  4. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 952. ISBN 1-57859-061-2.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  5. ^ a b "The Rolling Stones – Steel Wheels CD". CD Universe/Muze. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  6. ^ DeCurtis, Anthony (29 August 1989). "Steel Wheels". rollingstone.com. Archived from the original on 12 June 2017. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  7. ^ "The Rolling Stones: Album Guide". rollingstone.com. Archived version retrieved 15 November 2014.
  8. ^ Hull, Tom (n.d.). "Grade List: The Rolling Stones". tomhull.com. Archived from the original on 6 June 2020. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  9. ^ Colin Larkin (2000). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. p. 192. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
  10. ^ "スティール・ホイールズ – ザ・ローリング・ストーンズ". ザ・ローリング・ストーンズ. Archived from the original on 24 February 2016. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  11. ^ Saulnier, Jason (8 April 2010). "Chuck Leavell Interview". Music Legends. Archived from the original on 16 December 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
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  20. ^ "norwegiancharts.com The Rolling Stones – Steel Wheels" (ASP). Archived from the original on 9 November 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  21. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
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  25. ^ "allmusic ((( Steel Wheels > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". allmusic.com. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  26. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1989". RPM. Archived from the original on 31 December 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  27. ^ "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1989" (ASP) (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 12 May 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  28. ^ "Les Albums (CD) de 1989 par InfoDisc" (in French). infodisc.fr. Archived from the original (PHP) on 23 October 2014. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  29. ^ "1989年 アルバム年間TOP100" [Oricon Year-end Albums Chart of 1989] (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 31 December 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2013.
  30. ^ "Top 100 Albums of 1990". RPM. 22 December 1990. Archived from the original on 18 October 2015. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  31. ^ "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1990" (ASP) (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 24 January 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
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  33. ^ "Pacing the Majors" (PDF). Billboard. 20 January 1990. p. A-10. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 December 2020. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
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  35. ^ "Canadian album certifications – The Rolling Stones – Steel Wheels". Music Canada. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
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  41. ^ "Japanese album certifications – ザ・ローリング・ストーンズ – スティール・ホイールズ" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. Select 1989年9月 on the drop-down menu
  42. ^ "Dutch album certifications – The Rolling Stones – Steel Wheels" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved 11 December 2011. Enter Steel Wheels in the "Artiest of titel" box.
  43. ^ "Sólo Éxitos 1959–2002 Año A Año: Certificados 1979–1990" (in Spanish). Iberautor Promociones Culturales. ISBN 8480486392. Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  44. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 May 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  45. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (The Rolling Stones; 'Steel Wheels')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  46. ^ "British album certifications – The Rolling Stones – Steel Wheels". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 21 December 2012.Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Steel Wheels in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  47. ^ "American album certifications – The Rolling Stones – Steel Wheels". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 25 December 2013.

External links[edit]