It’s hard to call anything The Rolling Stones have recorded “underrated.” The Stones have endured for more than 50 years as one of the most reliable rock and roll bands ever, creating classic after classic alongside their contemporaries like The Beatles back in the day. But if anyone can recommend the Rolling Stones album that deserves a bit more attention, it’s got to be Keith Richards.
Richards has been the quintessential rock & roll survivor throughout every decade, overcoming sorrow, drug addiction, and even prison time while continuing to play his guitar and smoke cigarettes. That does not imply that he enjoyed every period of The Stones, though.
Richards frequently discussed arguments he had with lead vocalist Mick Jagger in the late 1970s and early 1980s, disputes that frequently turned violent as heard on songs like “Had It With You.” Even though the dressed-up Stones may have been his lowest moment, it wasn’t until ten years later that he discussed the band’s turnaround.
Richards singled out the 1997 album Bridges to Babylon as a particular favorite while speaking about some of the most underappreciated works in his discography, stating to Much Music: “This one is the first one since maybe the early ’80s, late ’70s where it’s taken another step. (That) is actually pushing some boundaries again, for better or worst. I knew from the songs that we had a good album.”
Even while this may have been a far cry from The Stones’ heyday, it was still pushing the envelope of what they had previously accomplished. One of the first times The Stones began to embrace the zeitgeist of the 1990s was when they collaborated with the production team The Dust Brothers.
its attempts to fit in with the alternative culture in the 1990s did have its fair share of audible thuds, such the techno horror “Might As Well Get Juiced,” while having some good tracks that Richards acknowledges, including “Anybody Seen My Baby.” Richards acknowledged that this pushed boundaries for better and worse, but he wouldn’t alter the chemistry of the group at the time.
Richards was positive of the friendship among his fellow Stones while speaking about the connection between everyone in the band, adding, “I never had a problem (with the band) they are expert musicians, you know what I mean. I am always looking to make good records, I don’t want major hits. If one happens, great. But I’m just trying to put a good album out. (Also) make the best out of my friends. Even if they don’t like it at the time.”
Richards credits the sessions’ loose atmosphere, which captured the delight of gathering friends in a room to hammer at the finest melodies they can think of, for the record’s output, which fluctuated considerably throughout their time in the studio. Bridges to Babylon may have been a mixed bag from beginning to end, but it’s simple to see the band in the recording studio following their inspiration. According to Richards, “You’re not really thinking too much. You’re just doing it and after you think about it. When you’re doing it, it’s flowing. That’s what counts.”