Talk is Cheap (30th Anniversary Edition) by Keith Richards – Album Review

talk is cheap Keith Richards album review logo

By Victoria Holdsworth

It has been a whole 30 years since this album was originally released. Now remastered from the original tapes, Keith Richards’ solo album, Talk Is Cheap, is celebrating its birthday in style, with some previously unreleased tracks.

This album was basically a needs-must affair from Richards, after The Rolling Stones temporarily ‘disbanded’ in 1988. The guitarist decided to carry on doing what he knew best and promptly produced this stellar album. Having never listened to it before, I must say it is an astonishing accomplishment.

For any Stones fan, the album may be a little hard to swallow. Richards’ vocals are a hoarse murmur, somehow making the songs more intimate, and not for stadium rock consumption. From the out and out funked up opening of ‘Big Enough’ it is clear that Keith has decided to go a little off brand. It’s complemented by another standout track, ‘Take It So Hard’, which is a gritty and determined tune, with some fierce riffs, showing Keith has, in no uncertain terms, delved back to his roots of rhythm and blues on a basic level, yet still manages to produce some massive sounds.

talk is cheap Keith Richards album review cover“Outstandingly put-together”

Harking back to Chuck Berry, ‘I Could Have Stood You Up’ comes complete with killer harmonies, and really showcases Richards as songwriter. ‘You Don’t Move Me’ is a blatant shot at Mr. Jagger, with sarcastically delicious levels of disappointment in his tones as he sings: ‘You made the wrong motion, drank the wrong potion’.

As a debut solo album, albeit from an already established figure, there are no weak links in the musical chains. There isn’t a bad track on here, and all of the six bonus tracks would make a great little album on their own, including three outstandingly put-together instrumentals. However it is the bonus track ‘My Babe’, a Jimmy Reed cover, that will really make you prick up your ears to the talents that are on show here.

What more can you really say about greatness? I am not a Stones aficionado by any means, but I am a fan of Keith Richards as a musician and a human being. This album may be the perfect two-fingers to whatever was going on back in the day, but mainly it is about development and growth. Talk is Cheap could have gone so horribly wrong, but it’s now a vital part of one of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest legacies.


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