It Meant a Lot

Talk is Cheap

After refraining from going on the road for Undercover [Rolling Stones/Columbia-1984] The Stones decided to also not tour behind Dirty Work [Rolling Stones/Columbia-1986], exacerbating the growing rift between Mick and Keith, the former investing much of his time in a burgeoning solo career, of which She’s The Boss [Columbia-1985] was the first salvo. Meanwhile, Jagger had not played guitar on Dirty Work—first time that had not happened since Sticky Fingers [Rolling Stones/Atlantic-1971]; various drummers filled in for Charlie Watts on the album, since he was badly addicted to heroin and alcohol at the time (which was Jagger’s reason to veto a tour in support of the album); and long-time road manager and occasional keyboardist Ian Stewart passed away shortly after Dirty Work was completed. In other words, the Stones were in shambles. So, Keef ended up doing the one thing he’d no interest in ever doing: going solo himself. 

Assisted by multi-instrumentalist/producer Steve Jordan—who’d played drums on Dirty Work and been the drummer in the band Keef put together for the Chuck Berry tribute Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll!—Keef wrote some songs, put together a band called The X-pensive Winos (Waddy Wachtel--guitar, Ivan Neville--keyboards, Charley Drayton--bass and Jordan on drums), signed a deal with Virgin Records and released his solo debut, Talk is Cheap, in early October of 1988. 

Top 25 in the UK, Top 40 in the US, Talk is Cheap got positive reviews and was jokingly referred to as the best Stones record in a while. But the record itself was no joke: among the highlights, leadoff single “Take it So Hard” was classic Keef; “Make No Mistake” a tasty soul ballad; and “How I Wish” is quintessential latter-day Stones at their best. Maybe it was for the best that Mick and Keith went their separate ways for a bit. Nah, strike that: it was for the best; no ifs, ands or buts.