Hit & Run: Easy on the cheese

The mere fact of Richards singing standards such as “Sweet Dreams”
and “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now” has led some excitable
listeners to conclude that the Stones’ creative mainspring is planning an
album of old favourites, along the lines of Rod Stewart’s Great American
Songbook series. But these are clearly not serious recordings, nor even
demos for planned recordings, just the sounds of an off-duty star relaxing
in his hotel room, cracking open a bottle of Jack, firing up a fat one, and
strumming a few childhood memories to pass the time.

The hotel room in question, it transpires, was in the Finisterra Hotel in Cabo
San Lucas, Mexico, where Richards had just married Patti Hansen. That was in
December 1983, which makes the “news” of Keith’s putative covers
album a mere quarter-century old. In any case, the potential market for such
an album would be somewhat limited, given the indifferent reception accorded
the guitarist’s official, properly recorded, solo albums Talk Is Cheap and
Main Offender.

The tapes do, however, give a vivid impression of what the world’s leading
hellraiser was raised on. It’s a high-protein diet of old R&B, rock and
country music, with substantial courses of Buddy Holly and Everly Brothers
accompanied by side-orders of familiar rock classics by Elvis, Chuck, Bo,
Little Richard, and country numbers by Hank Williams, Don Gibson and Merle
Haggard. They’re garnished with a few of Keith’s personal favourites from
the Stones’ own back catalogue, the most agreeable being “Wild Horses”,
the weary, weatherbeaten tone of which is best suited to his ragamuffin hobo
stylings here, and “Time Is On My Side”, on which his small, frail
voice is actually quite engaging. Otherwise, “Let It Be Me” is the
most pleasingly rendered song of those I’ve heard, one of the few whose
secure structure suggests he’s played it more than once: the guitar break in
particular is quite lovely.

But as with most bootlegs, these recordings are most interesting for the stuff
that happens in between the songs. Here, apart from Keef’s sudden outburst
at an accomplice who interrupts him as he’s trying to work out the structure
of “So Sad” (“Shaddup, Stroker! Bloody hell! Go south for the
winter!”), the only such example of note is the guitarist’s jocular
introduction of “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now” as “Concerto
for five strings, three notes, two fingers and one asshole, in G major”.
The song is then delivered in much the same frail transatlantic croon-croak
as he employs throughout the “session”, which in some cases may be
a pastiche of Dylan’s wheezing mumble.

It’s not exactly must-hear stuff; in fact, it’s barely worth the visit to the
website (captainsdead.com). Though if you really can’t wait to hear Keith
fluffing the intro to “Heartbeat”, it could be just what you’re
looking for. Andy Gill

Man in Body Shop’s mirror


Michael Jackson, the self-proclaimed King of Pop, may become the Chief
Recessionista. Recent allegations he spent £4.6m of Sheik Abdullah bin Hamad
Al Khalifa’s money turned up an interesting footnote: Jackson blew £200 at
The Body Shop. Not much for a man who used to pick up Faberge Eggs like some
of us would Crème Eggs, but still, that’s a lot of perfume sticks. As
Christmas approaches it’s a useful reminder: if a brazil nut body butter
coffret is good enough for La Toya, it’s good enough for the woman in your
life too. Harriet Walker

Quakin’ all over ? just like the Obamas

Barack Obama’s decision to send his children to a prestigious Quaker school
will not be as controversial as a similar decision by a British prime
minister would be. The Quakers’ links with education in the US are far more
deeply rooted than they are in Britain ? the first faith school established
in the US was set up by Quakers in Pennsylvania in the late 17th century.
There are now 19 such higher-education establishments and universities in
the US.

By choosing Sidwell Friends private school, Obama is following in the
footsteps of several former US presidents: the Clintons sent Chelsea there
and Richard Nixon sent his daughter, Trisha. As, by happy coincidence, did
the Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward. Imagine the reunion.

In the UK, the Quakers have a more modest influence on education ? but your
children can still be schooled like the Obamas. The Religious Society of
Friends, or Quakers, heads seven schools in the UK ? educating 4,000
children in total. They are fairly small, private schools ? so small that
they are often ignored in the debate over whether we should have more or
fewer faith-based schools in the UK. Most of their pupils are not Quakers ?
85 per cent of their intake comes from outside the faith. They tend to be
big on openness and student councils. Does that make them more valued? It
seems so. But British Quaker schools don’t attract quite the same elite as
Sidwell Friends. Richard Garner

Can I have that gift-rapped?

“It’s time for the power player males of the world to step up their game
to live ? and smell ? like a king. Only Sean “Diddy”
Combs, self-made entrepreneur extraordinaire, could debut I AM KING, a scent
designed to inspire those who dream big and want to live large. I AM KING
gives men a glimpse into a Combs’ exclusive world: jet-setting holidays,
superyachts, palatial estates, luxury cars, beautiful women… I AM KING
makes the ultimate statement for today’s ambitious go-getter: Here I am, in
all my glory. Smell the power. Feel the success…” Press release
from Sean John Fragrances (I AM KING is available from 1 December for
£48/100ml)

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