Mick Jagger’s voice is one of the most recognisable sounds in popular music. The Very Best of Mick Jagger showcases his solo work from the past 40 years, starting with 1969’s Memo From Turner and ending with a 2007 remix of 1993’s previously unreleased Charmed Life.
The result is a fascinating and compelling collection that offers a variety of new perspectives on that celebrated voice.
Any solo compilation of Mick’s work can never be considered comprehensive in the context of his whole career. The small matter of the 1,000 or so tracks he’s recorded with his ‘other project’ make sure of that.
However, over the course of his four studio albums, She’s The Boss, Primitive Cool, Wandering Spirit and Goddess In The Doorway, Mick’s non-Stones musical personality has steadily grown in stature and reputation and that journey of exploration and self-expression and is well represented here.
The otherwise unreleased tracks hold special attraction. Charmed Life and Sonny Boy Williamson cover Checking Up On My Baby (recorded with The Red Devils) have their place on merit and well as curiosity, but Too Many Cooks is the standout here. Produced by John Lennon in LA in 1973, and featuring Al Kooper, Jack Bruce and Harry Nilsson, it is by any standards a classic, thoroughly worthy of all the exalted talent accompanying the man on the mic, who bosses the whole thing with a memorably snarling performance.
The variety of styles represented on The Very Best Of… take us from this early 70s brass-laced blues rock (and the even earlier stomper Memo From Turner, featuring Ry Cooder’s mesmerising slide guitar) through angular eighties synth pop, warm white reggae (a memorable cover of Peter Tosh’s Don’t Look Back) to the more recent rock revival sound of God Gave Me Everything (with Lenny Kravitz), taking in Motown (Dancing In The Street, with David Bowie) and the sweet ballad of 1993’s Evening Gown on the way.
It’s a kaleidoscopic voyage through time and genre, with Mick Jagger and his voice at the helm and the last forty years of music audible on the horizon. As such, it’s an essential listen not only for Jagger fans but anyone interested in the view from the top of the rock and pop tree during the past few decades.