In 1988 Keith Richards released his first ever solo album, ‘Talk Is Cheap’, an eleven track masterclass in everything good about rock ‘n roll.
It all began in 1986 when Keith was restless. The Stones were inactive and as Keith says It was one of those “forget about it times”. He’d worked with drummer Steve Jordan on the Chuck Berry film ‘Hail Hail Rock ‘n Roll’ and was looking for another challenge. He’d never before considered making a solo album and admits to initially being “dragged kicking and screaming” into the studio.
Throughout his storied career with the Rolling Stones, he had always been a one band man. “My central focus had always been that one thing,” Keith says. “I felt like in the Stones I had the perfect vehicle for what I wanted to do. I couldn’t imagine putting something else together would be equally satisfying.”
Thankfully he put together the incomparable X-Pensive Winos. From the start it felt like a band, with guitarist Waddy Wachtel an obvious first addition to Steve Jordan. “Waddy and I are like Ronnie and me,” Keith says. “Within five minutes it’s like you’ve known each other all your lives.”
With Charley Drayton, who plays bass and drums, three became four, then five with singer and keyboard player Ivan Neville. All of them were mutli-instrumentalists, musical all-rounders who set up camp at Le Studio, outside Quebec. Isolated from big city distractions, the music flowed from the start. “There was a roll going on and all I had to do was hang onto it,” Keith says.
One of the first tracks they recorded was the explosive ‘Take It So Hard’, a tight but loose classic that easily illustrates why Keith is called the human riff.
It defines modern rock music.
Recording later moved onto Montserrat, Bermuda and other locales with guest appearances from an all-star cast including Sarah Dash, Bootsy Collins, Maceo Parker, the Memphis Horns, Patti Sciafia and Mick Taylor.
There’s a joyous swagger to ‘Talk Is Cheap’ that permeates each and every song. It sounds as good today as it did thirty years ago – in Keith’s words “as fresh as the day it was made”. This reissue also includes 6 bonus tracks, four of which feature pianist Johnnie Johnson including Eddie Taylor’s ‘Big Town Playboy’, ‘Blues Jam’, ‘’Slim’ and the kinetic Jimmy Reed cover ‘My Babe’.
The Super Deluxe and Deluxe box set includes special, exclusive housing and folios, extensive sleeve notes by Anthony De Curtis telling the story” of the album’s production, release and cultural impact, unseen photo’s and rare memorabilia.
“This album holds up,“ Keith Richards says. “I’ve been listening to it and not through the mists of nostalgia either because it doesn’t affect me that way. This is more than the sum of its parts. I really admire it. We were having fun and you can hear it.”