Rolling Stones - Steel Wheels

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Rolling Stones - Steel Wheels
Studio album by
 The Rolling Stones
Released 29 August 1989
Recorded 29 March – 5 May, 15 May – 29 June 1989
Studio Air Studios, Montserrat
Genre Rock, hard rock
Length 53:03
  • Rolling Stones
  • Columbia
Producer Chris Kimsey, The Glimmer Twins
The Rolling Stones chronology
Dirty Work
Steel Wheels
Voodoo Lounge
Singles from Steel Wheels
  1. "Mixed Emotions
    Released: 17 August 1989
  2. "Rock and a Hard Place"
    Released: 4 November 1989
  3. "Almost hear You Sigh"
    Released: January 1990
  4. "Terrifying"
    Released: 1990


  "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".

"Steel Wheels" was the final album of new material the band would record for Columbia Records.




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 received "Primitive 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.

Release and reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars
Bobert Christgau B–
The Great Rock Discography 6/10
Music Hound 2.5/5
Q 4/5 stars
Record Collector 3/5 stars
Rolling Stone 4.5/5 stars
The rolling Stone Album Guide 3/5 stars
Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music 3/5 stars

The massive, worldwide Steel Wheels tour was launched in late August 1989, concurrently with Steel Wheels' arrival and the release of lead single "Mixed Emotions", a partially biographical reference to Jagger and Richards' recent woes that proved to be the Rolling Stones' last major hit single in the US, reaching No. 5. Critical reaction was warm, with "Steel Wheels" reaching No. 2 in the UK and No. 3 in the US where it went double-platinum. Follow-up singles were "Rock and a Hard Place", "Almost Hear You Sigh" and "Terrifying". The mammoth Steel Wheels Tour, which finished in mid-1990 after being re-titled the Urban Jungle tour, was an enormous financial success. In 1990, FOX aired a 3-D television special of the Steel Wheels tour. Unlike anaglyphic 3-D which requires the familiar red and green glasses, the method used was the Pulfrich Effect which permitted full-color video. The film was shot by Gerald Marks of PullTime 3-D in NYC. An IMAX film of the tour was released the next year, which still plays sporadically at IMAX venues around the world.

Anthony DeCurtis of Rolling Stone writes "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."

Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic writes "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."

The album was the Rolling Stones' first digital recording. In 1994, "Steel Wheels" was remastered and reissued by Virgin Records, and again in 2009 by Universal Music. An SHM-CD version was released on On December 2, 2015 by Universal Japan, mastered from the original British master tape.


Track listing

All tracks written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, except "Almost hear You Sigh" co-written by Steve Jordan.

Side one
No. Title Length
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
Total length: 24:55
Side two
No. Title Length
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" 4:29
Total length: 27:00




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
  • Bill Wyman – bass guitar
  • Charlie Watts – drums

Additional musicians

  • Chuck Leavell – organ, piano, keyboards
  • 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

  • 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
  • Mastering – Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound, NYC







Rolling Stones - Steel Wheels

UK CBS 465752 stereo (1989).

Album produced by Chris Kimsey and the Glimmer Twins.

The vinyl record has remained in excellent condition.

Audio quality is very clear and strong throughout.

Both record centre labels are clean, unmarked, and free from tears, stains or stickers.

The album cover is in excellent condition, displaying only minor signs of wear.

The album cover has a strong spine, displaying very clear, printed script.

The original inner lyric sleeve is excellently presented.

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