Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Rolling Stones: Steel Wheels [Rolling Stones, 1989]
All rancor and bad vibes, Dirty Work was the Stones; all impartiality and bad boys grown up, the reunion is an amazing simulation. Charlie's groove enlivens--and IDs--the mature sentiments while gibes at "conscience" and "reason" hint obliquely at self-awareness. But for Mick, self-awareness means above all accepting one's status as a pop star. Maybe he thinks "So get off the fence/It's creasing your butt" saves "Mixed Emotions" from its own conventionality. Probably he thinks giving Keith two vocals is democracy and roots. Certainly he thinks he needs the money. Wrong, wrong, and wrong again. B-