You trying to get an a pass: Best Rolling Stones Songs 1978-2005

Dubbed the Mall Rat Years by Rob Sheffield, the Stones between 1978 and 1982 enjoyed their biggest stateside success: huge on album rock radio, still scoring sizable pop hits, and, starting in 1981, MTV stand-bys through 1998. In 1981 they even kicked off their first professional world tour, sponsored by Jōvan Musk, worn by no one except, presumably, Mick Jagger (the tour did not have an auspicious start). Although way before my time, I can imagine driving down I-95 in September 1981 and hearing “Start Me Up” sandwiched around “Bette Davis Eyes” and “Urgent” and whatever new wave single Y-100 chose to play for variety’s sake.

Looking at my list again, I understand that older fans don’t care for much after admitted benchmark Tattoo You; I’ve accepted that Bob Christgau’s claque and I are the only ones who huddle against Dirty Work for warmth; and A Bigger Bang is indeed better than Bridges to Babylon and Undercover, to my mind the most leaden and reflexively gratuitous albums, respectively, these pros released. My choices tend toward the lean and crisp and crunchy — Mick will say I sound like I’m describing bacon, but, really, the best lean, crisp, and crunchy songs are the equivalent of dead bugs on a sliding glass door track. The highest charting ballad? “Heaven,” four minutes of distortions and Jagger mumbling over his strummed, phased guitar while Charlie taps his rim and Bill Wyman adds spare synth fills. The addition of Jagger as rhythm guitarist contributes to that dead mosquito sound. By the time of BOB their songs stink of dead bugs.

1. Miss You
2. Summer Romance
3. When The Whip Comes Down
4. Heaven
5. Hold Back
6. Respectable
7. She’s So Cold
8. Sleep Tonight
9. Shattered
10. Too Much Blood (Dance Version)
11. Hang Fire
12. Mixed Emotions
13. Moon is Up
14. Dance (Pt. 1)
15. Dirty Work
16. Thru and Thru
17. Terrifying
18. Biggest Mistake
19. Do You Think I Really Care?
20. Let Me Down Slow
21. How Can I Stop
22. One Hit (To the Body)
23. Rock and a Hard Place
24. Beast of Burden
25. Almost Hear You Sigh
26. Let Me Go
27. Highwire
28. Waiting on a Friend
29. Laugh, I Nearly Died
30. Just My Imagination

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