Dirty Work (The Rolling Stones album)

Dirty Work (The Rolling Stones album)
Dirty Work
Studio album by The Rolling Stones
Released 24 March 1986
Recorded 8 April – 17 June and 16 July – 17 August 1985
Genre Rock
Length 40:03
Language English
Label Rolling Stones/Columbia Records (initial release), Rolling Stones/Virgin (1st remaster), Universal Music (2nd remaster)
Producer Steve Lillywhite and The Glimmer Twins
The Rolling Stones chronology
Dirty Work
Steel Wheels
Singles from Dirty Work
  1. "Harlem Shuffle"
    Released: 28 February 1986
  2. "One Hit (To the Body)"
    Released: 9 May 1986

Dirty Work is The Rolling Stones' 18th British and 20th American studio album. It was released on 24 March 1986 on the Rolling Stones label by CBS Records. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, the album was recorded during a period when relations between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards soured considerably, according to Richards' autobiography [1] Life, which was released October 26, 2010.[2] The album produced a hit for the Rolling Stones, their cover of "Harlem Shuffle", and featured a number of guest appearances, including contributions by Tom Waits, Patti Scialfa, Bobby Womack, and Jimmy Page on "One Hit (To the Body)".

In 1994 Dirty Work was remastered and reissued by Virgin Records, and again in 2009 by Universal Music.



The sessions for Dirty Work, the first album under the Rolling Stones' recording contract with CBS Records, began in April 1985 in Paris, running for two months before breaking for a short spell.[3] Mick Jagger had just released his first solo album, She's the Boss, much to Richards' annoyance, since the latter's first priority was the Rolling Stones and he was stung that Jagger was pursuing a career as a pop star.[citation needed] Jagger was often absent from the Dirty Work sessions while Richards recorded with Ronnie Wood, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts; Jagger's vocal parts were added later on.[citation needed] The divide between Jagger and Richards was on public view on 13 July 1985, when Jagger performed a solo set at Live Aid while Richards and Wood supported Bob Dylan's set on acoustic guitars.

Charlie Watts' involvement in the recording sessions was also limited; in 1994 Watts told Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes that during the 1980s he had been addicted to heroin and alcohol, and that this is why replacement drummers are credited on both Undercover and Dirty Work. Steve Jordan and Anton Fig play drums on some tracks; Ronnie Wood plays drums on "Sleep Tonight." Jagger would later cite Watts' personal state as one of the reasons he vetoed a tour in support of Dirty Work in 1986, preferring to start work on his second album, Primitive Cool.[citation needed]

Four of the album's eight original compositions are credited to Jagger/Richards/Wood and one to Jagger/Richards/Chuck Leavell. Only three are credited to Jagger/Richards, the lowest number on any Rolling Stones album since Out of Our Heads (1965). Dirty Work is the first Rolling Stones record to feature two tracks with Richards on lead vocals ("Too Rude" and "Sleep Tonight").

Following a further month of final recording in July and August 1985 (which saw guest appearances by Jimmy Page, Bobby Womack and Tom Waits), co-producer Steve Lillywhite supervised several weeks of mixing and the creation of 12-inch remixes. On 12 December, Ian Stewart, one of the Stones' founding members and their longtime pianist and road manager, died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 47. As a tribute, a hidden track of Stewart playing Big Bill Broonzy's "Key to the Highway" was added to close the album.

In March 1986, The Rolling Stones' cover of "Harlem Shuffle" (their first lead single from a studio album not to be a Jagger/Richards original since the earliest days) was released to a receptive audience, reaching #13 in the UK and #5 in the US, though it did not receive the same amount of exposure as previous hits.[citation needed] The follow-up single "One Hit (To the Body)" was a top 30 hit and featured a revealing video of Jagger and Richards seeming to trade blows.


Dirty Work was released a week after "Harlem Shuffle," reaching #4 in the UK and US (going platinum there), but the critical reaction was less than enthusiastic.[citation needed] Some reviewers felt the album was slight in places, with weak, generic songwriting from Richards and Wood and puzzlingly abrasive vocals from Jagger.[who?] Some felt Jagger was saving his best material for his solo records, though the critical reaction to those releases was muted as well.[citation needed] Dirty Work's critical standing has only marginally improved over the years, in part because it lacks any favorable hits or its lack of 70s style production.

However, in 1986, Robert Christgau called Dirty Work "a bracing and even challenging record [which] innovates without kowtowing to multi-platinum fashion or half-assed pretension. It's honest and makes you like it."[4] In 2004, Stylus Magazine's "On Second Thoughts" feature assessed the album as "a tattered, embarrassed triumph, by far the most interesting Stones album since Some Girls at every level: lyrical, conceptual, instrumental."[5] The re-evaluation of the album finds that despite its change of style to a then current 80s-style production and experimentation, the album features "the most venomous guitar sound of the Stones' career, and Jagger's most committed vocals."[5]

Artwork and packaging

The original vinyl release of Dirty Work came shrinkwrapped in dark red cellophane. Breaking with Rolling Stones tradition, Dirty Work was the first of their studio albums to contain a lyric sheet in the US, apparently at the insistence of then-distributor CBS Records. Also included was a comic strip, drawn inexpertly by Mick Jagger, called "Dirty Workout."[citation needed] who also pushed for the atypical colourful band-photo cover.[citation needed]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars link
Robert Christgau (A) link
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars link

Track listing

  1. "One Hit (To the Body)" (Mick Jagger/Richards/Ronnie Wood) – 4:44
  2. "Fight" (Jagger/Richards/Wood) – 3:09
  3. "Harlem Shuffle" (Bob Relf/Ernest Nelson) – 3:23
  4. "Hold Back" (Jagger/Richards) – 3:53
  5. "Too Rude" (Lindon Roberts) – 3:11
  6. "Winning Ugly" (Jagger/Richards) – 4:32
  7. "Back to Zero" (Jagger/Richards/Leavell) – 4:00
  8. "Dirty Work" (Jagger/Richards/Wood) – 3:53
  9. "Had It with You" (Jagger/Richards/Wood) – 3:19
  10. "Sleep Tonight" (Jagger/Richards) – 5:10

An unlisted and uncredited excerpt from "Key to the Highway" (Big Bill Broonzy/Charles Segar – 0:33) closes the album. It was played by Ian Stewart, who died shortly after the recording sessions for the album had ended.

Outtakes and demo versions

The Dirty Work recording sessions took place at Pathe Marconi Studios in Paris, France, from 8 April to 17 June 1985 and RPM Studios, New York, from 16 July to 17 August 1985. Outtakes and demo versions from these sessions are available on various bootlegs, and include numbers like:

  • "Strictly Memphis"
  • "You're Too Much" (Keith Richards on vocal)
  • "Treat Me Like a Fool" (Richards on vocal)
  • "She Never Listens to Me" (Richards on vocal)
  • "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever" (Hunter/Wonder)
  • "Deep Love" (Richards on vocal)
  • "What Am I Going to Do With Your Love"
  • "Crushed Pearl" (Richards on vocal)


The Rolling Stones
Additional musicians

Chart positions

Year Chart Position
1986 UK Top 100 Albums 4[citation needed]
1986 The Billboard 200 4[citation needed]
Year Single Chart Position
1986 "Harlem Shuffle" The Billboard Hot 100 5[citation needed]
1986 "Harlem Shuffle" Mainstream Rock Tracks 2[citation needed]
1986 "Harlem Shuffle" Hot Dance Music/Club Play 4[citation needed]
1986 "Harlem Shuffle" Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Single Sales 5[citation needed]
1986 "Harlem Shuffle" UK Top 100 Singles 13[citation needed]
1986 "Winning Ugly" Mainstream Rock Tracks 10[citation needed]
1986 "One Hit (To the Body)" Mainstream Rock Tracks 3[citation needed]
1986 "One Hit (To the Body)" The Billboard Hot 100 28[citation needed]
1986 "One Hit (To the Body)" UK Top 100 Singles 80[citation needed]


Country Provider Certification
(sales thresholds)
United States RIAA Platinum
France SNEP Gold
United Kingdom BPI Gold
Germany IFPI Gold

External links


  1. ^ Rich, Motoko (1 August 2007). "A Rolling Stone Prepares to Gather His Memories". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/01/books/01rich.html. Retrieved 6 March 2008. 
  2. ^ Richards, Keith (2010). Life. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 031603438X. OCLC 548642133. 
  3. ^ Zentgraf, Nico. "The Complete Works of the Rolling Stones 1962-2008". http://www.nzentgraf.de/books/tcw/works1.htm. Retrieved 2008-03-20. 
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert (15 April 1986). "Winning Ugly: An Essay on Dirty Work". Village Voice. http://www.robertchristgau.com/xg/music/stones-86.php. 
  5. ^ a b Soto, Alfred (September 2004). "On Second Thought: Rolling Stones - Dirty Work". Stylus Magazine. http://www.stylusmagazine.com/articles/on_second_thought/rolling-stones-dirty-work.htm. 

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