Goddess in the Doorway, Mick Jagger Virgin

For his fourth solo effort, one of rock”s senior statesmen assembled an illustrious cast of characters to help write, play, produce and, ultimately, sell his album. Nobody talks about Mick Jagger”s first three non-Stones releases: She”s the Boss (1985), Primitive Cool (1987) or Wandering Spirit (1993). To change that, Jagger sought the help of friends old and new to put together Goddess in the Doorway.

Goddess is a mixed bag, to say the least, and the apparent absence of cohesion probably stems from the use of five different producers over the 12 song opus. The record fails to leave any sort of impression if Jagger”s aim was to forge a sound tangibly distinct from anything he”s done as front-man of The Rolling Stones, this effort falls short. Bet your Voodoo Lounge t-shirt that Goddess ain”t the Stones, just don”t bet that it will nab Mick a Grammy like recent releases from other old men Bob Dylan and Santana.

The problems begin with the all-star cameos themselves. “God Gave Me Everything,” a heavily-distorted, guitar-rocker played on and produced by Lenny Kravitz, is as forgettable as Kravitz himself. Jagger enlists Bono to collectively praise the Lord on the gospel-influenced “Joy,” a song that sounds like, well, a U2 song. And I still can”t surmise why Jagger looked to Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty to co-write the apocalyptic “Visions of Paradise.” Maybe it”s the whole Santana/Grammy thing.

Aerosmith”s Joe Perry dropped by for a few takes, and the results were a shake better. “Everybody Getting High” is straightforward, powerful rock and roll with a thumping beat. Perry also plays on “Too Far Gone,” a mid-tempo rocker that will do well in jukeboxes. As will “Gun,” driven by Pete Townshend”s distorted lead.

The most successful collaboration on Goddess is “Hide Away,” produced masterfully by Wyclef Jean. Wyclef lets Jagger”s vocals his strength rise to the top over a hip-hop and reggae infused arrangement of booty-bass, tangy electric, and spicy Spanish guitar.

The real gem on Goddess though, is “Don”t Call Me Up,” a ballad that features Jagger”s best lyrics along with a tasteful mix of acoustic guitar and elegant piano. Jagger has always been at his best when he cries through a song. Paul McCartney cried like a girl, Rod Stewart cried like a woman, Jagger cries like a man his tears come with a double-Scotch and a pack of smokes. Are there better post-girlfriend-get-drunk songs in history than “Wild Horses” or “Angie”? Jagger croons “Don”t call me up / When some other guy / Hangs your heartstrings out to dry.” Why? “”Cause I might let you down.” I would like to email those lyrics to every girl I know.

When Jagger”s album falters it”s usually because he wanders into the chasm-like genre known as adult-pop: an easy-listening mix of string arrangements, synthesizers, and drum-machines. Think Eric Clapton”s latest studio endeavors.

Boy, do I miss Keith Richards.

Grade: C

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