Following The Rolling Stones' Steel Wheels (1989), Jagger began writing new material for what would become Wandering Spirit. In January 1992, after landing Rick Rubin as co-producer, Jagger recorded the album in Los Angeles over seven months until September 1992, recording simultaneously as Keith Richards was making Main Offender.
Following the end of The Rolling Stones' Sony Music contract and their signing to Virgin Records, Jagger elected to sign with Atlantic Records (which had signed the Stones in the 1970s) to distribute what would be his only album with the label.
Released in February 1993, Wandering Spirit was commercially successful, reaching #12 in the UK and #11 in the US, going gold there. The track "Sweet Thing" was the lead single, although it was the second single, "Don't Tear Me Up", which found moderate success, topping Billboard's Album Rock Tracks chart for one week. Critical reaction was very strong, noting Jagger's abandonment of slick synthesizers in favour of an incisive and lean guitar sound.