August 29: The Rolling Stones released “Steel Wheels” in 1989

Rolling Stones - Steel Wheels

“All the ambivalence, recriminations, attempted rapprochement and psychological one-upmanship evident on Steel Wheels testify that the Stones are right in the element that has historically spawned their best music – a murky, dangerously charged environment in which nothing is merely what it seems. Against all odds, and at this late date, the Stones have once again generated an album that will have the world dancing to deeply troubling, unresolved emotions.”
~Anthony DeCurtis (Rolling Stone Magazine)

“The Stones sound good, and Mick and Keith both get off a killer ballad apiece with “Almost Hear You Sigh” and “Slipping Away,” respectively. It doesn’t make for a great Stones album, but it’s not bad, and it feels like a comeback – which it was supposed to, after all.”
~Stephen Thomas Erlewine (

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-
~Robert Christgau (

Critical reception was mostly good. The “glossy” sound troubled some people, but there are some really good songs here.

Here is one of the highlights

Blinded By Love


Released 29 August 1989
Recorded 29 March – 5 May, 15 May – 29 June 1989 at Air Studios,Montserrat
Genre Rock, hard rock
Length 53:03
Language English
Label Rolling Stones/Columbia
Producer Chris Kimsey, The Glimmer Twins

Steel Wheels is the 19th British and 21st American studio album by The Rolling Stones, released in 1989.

Heralded as a major comeback upon its release, the project is notable for the patching up of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards’ relationship, a reversion to a more classic style of music and the launching of the band’s biggest world tour at the time. It is also long-time bassist Bill Wyman’s final full length studio album with the Stones, preceding the announcement of his departure in January 1993. Wyman’s final tenure with the band would be on two studio tracks for 1991’s Flashpoint.

rolling stones mixed emotions

The first single from the album: Mixed Emotions


Following the release of 1986’s Dirty Work, and Jagger’s active pursuit of a solo career, relations between him and the Stones-committed Richards worsened considerably. While Jagger released the tepidly receivedPrimitive Cool in 1987, Richards recorded Talk Is Cheap, his solo debut, which would be released in 1988 to rave reviews. The two years largely apart appeared to have healed the wounds sufficiently to begin resurrecting their partnership and their band.

Meeting in January 1989, just preceding the Stones’ induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the chemistry between Jagger and Richards easily outshone whatever differences they had and after composing some 50 songs in a matter of weeks, Ronnie Wood, Wyman and Charlie Watts were called in to begin recording what would become Steel Wheels, beckoning Undercover co-producer Chris Kimsey to perform the same role.

Recording in Montserrat and London during the spring months, Steel Wheels was designed to emulate a classic Rolling Stones sound. The one notable exception was “Continental Drift,” an Eastern-flavoured piece, with The Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar, recorded in June 1989 in Tangier, coordinated by Cherie Nutting. With much of the past disagreements behind them, sessions for Steel Wheels were fairly harmonious.

Rolling Stones North AmericanTour 1989

Second single:

Rock and a Hard Place:

Track Listing:

Best songs in bold

  1. “Sad Sad Sad” 3:35
  2. Mixed Emotions” 4:38
  3. “Terrifying” 4:53
  4. “Hold on to Your Hat” 3:32
  5. “Hearts for Sale” 4:40
  6. Blinded by Love” 4:37
  7. Rock and a Hard Place” 5:25
  8. “Can’t Be Seen” 4:09
  9. “Almost Hear You Sigh” 4:37
  10. “Continental Drift” 5:14
  11. “Break the Spell” 3:06
  12. Slipping Away

Slipping Away:


The Rolling Stones

  • Mick Jagger – lead and backing vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, harmonica, percussion, keyboards on “Continental Drift”
  • Keith Richards – electric, acoustic and classical guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals on “Can’t Be Seen” and “Slipping Away”, bicycle spokes on “Continental Drift”
  • Ronnie Wood – electric and acoustic guitar, bass guitar and acoustic bass, backing vocals, dobro
  • Charlie Watts – drums
  • Bill Wyman – bass guitar

Additional musicians

  • Chuck Leavell – organ, piano, keyboards[4]
  • Matt Clifford – electric and acoustic piano, clavinet, harmonium, percussion programming, strings
  • Sarah Dash – backing vocals
  • Lisa Fischer – backing vocals
  • Bernard Fowler – backing vocals
  • Luis Jardim – percussion
  • Phil Beer – mandolin, fiddle
  • The Kick Horns – brass
  • Roddy Lorimer – trumpet
  • The Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar Farafina – African-Moroccan instruments
  • Sonia Morgan – backing vocals
  • Tessa Niles – backing vocals

Technical and design personnel

  • Recording engineer – Christopher Marc Potter
  • Assistant engineer – Rupert Coulson
  • Recorded at Air Studios, Montserrat
  • Mixed by Michael Brauer, Christopher Marc Potter, Chris Kimsey
  • Art direction and design – John Warwicker
  • Logo design – Mark Morton

Full album @ youtube:

The Rolling Stones Live in Barcelona 1990
Recorded live during the European Steel Wheels-Urban Jungle Tour in Barcelona,Estadi Olimpic,13 & 14 july 1990.

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