The Rolling Stones: Undercover Of the Night – UK – 12″ 
- Undercover Of The Night (Dub Version) 6:23
- Feel On Baby (Instrumental Dub) 6:38
This was a record that I’d heard on the local FM Rock stations during the weird time in the spring of 1983 when the program directors were reacting to the impact of MTV on their markets for a quarter by experimenting with dance mixes. That didn’t last long! But it stuck with me and I always wanted a copy of this remix. The original track as on the single/video was my favorite Rolling Stones single in a decade. This one was very interesting to me because it showed the old dogs of Rock + Roll learning some new Post-Punk tricks. What I could not have known in 1983 was that it would take me at least a quarter century later to get a copy!
We knew this was not our father’s Rolling Stones when the machine-gun like tattoo of Simmons drums kicked this intense number off with a bang. Dubbed out organ gave plenty of room for the congas and hi-hats to stake the claim for the relentless groove. Bill Wyman’s bass line was isolated in the spacious mix to delineate space and time before dubbed out drums with organ once again built the Funk. The snarling guitar/drum riff was cracked three times like a whip before the lead guitars and Mick Jagger finally appeared.
As on the album mix, Jagger’s vocals were underlined with dub effects that had showed that The Stones were paying attention during the late 70s. The UK remix phenomenon was down to Reggae and dubplates being present in UK sound systems that fed into the Punk and Post-Punk era and influenced the UK’s dance remix culture. The sound was tough and hard as befit Jagger’s exploration of right wing violence in Latin America. Of course, while The Clash approached it like political science majors, leave it to The Rolling Stones to inject the topic with their trademark dark sex appeal.
And Jagger knew to sidestep cliché while throwing the patented Stones kink into the limelight by describing girls that were “painted blue… done up in lace, done up in rubber.” The first time I heard the song I was 100% sure that leather, not rubber, was going to be the lyric at the end of that couplet. The middle section of the mix was close to the single mix. I liked the reverse boomerang dub effect that was inserted to herald the drops before the climax. Followed by more dubbed out guitars slashing through the underbrush of the song and the backing vocal “doo-doo-doos” building in intensity until Jagger snarled the title one more time before the abrupt ending.
If the A-side was The Rolling Stones trying on Dub threads for a weekender, then “Feel On baby [dub version]” was the band going native. What was a Reggae track on the album was given the full-strength Dub treatment here with Chris Kimsey’s spacious mix. The skank groove had backing vocals, organ, bass and Simmons and Syndrums lost in somber dubspace.
The tambourine rhythm was unrelenting as the Simmons drum tattoos punctuated throughout the song. The fills bouncing from channel to channel in a call-and-response fashion. The interplay of the drums from channel to channel were joined by the most mournful harmonica I’ve ever heard. At first blush, I was expecting Melodica but this was something else entirely.
On a track like this was where all of the time that the band had spent in Jamaica in the 70s paid off in spades. This was actual authentic Dub and put 90% of the mixes on 12″ singles with the nerve to include that word in the 80s very much in the shade. I notice that Sly Dunbar was playing percussion on the album sessions so I’d imagine he was all over this track. It could be played for anyone who didn’t know it was The Stones and few would guess by my reckoning.
I would like later Stones material but this single always commanded my interest from day one. I’d call it my favorite single of their from the 80s for certain. Producer Chris Kimsey had a pedigree of Peter Frampton records before he hooked up with the Rolling Stones to engineer and co-produce “Emotional Rescue.” After which Kimsey would get bites from New Wave acts like Fingerprintz. By delivering a tough yet dancable sound to The Rolling Stones this time out, Kimsey found other Post-Punk bands knocking on his door for some more of that secret sauce. His next project was to work with Killing Joke and bring forth the single “Eighties” into the world and followed by their “Night Time” album.