In 1983, The Rolling Stones released "Too Much Blood," a shriek and cry that heralded a crisis period in classic rock.
Sometimes cliches are true. The idea that all the classic acts of the boomer rock era lost their way in the 80s is surprisingly consistent. Some blame the rise of punk making them look silly and pompous by comparison, but I think the reason was simply mid-life crises.
Now that these guys are hovering around eighty years of age, it's hard to imagine that forty was once considered too old to be a rock star, but these guys were the first generation of rock stars. With every milestone in age they reached, the world had never seen rock stars reach that milestone. In 1983, a forty-year-old rock star was as much an oxymoron as a forty-year-old teenager.
...And what are the Rolling Stones if not dangerous young men? In the 80s, the Stones didn't know who they were. They've been struggling with their identity ever since.
No band who knew who they were and where they were going would write "Too Much Blood." "Too Much Blood" is a spooky song in the same way as Ken's job in The Barbie Movie is "beach." "Too Much Blood" is the platonic idea of a spooky song, without any specifics or understanding without any understanding of what that means.
"Too Much Blood" says a lot, but means very little
The chorus casts Mick Jagger as a camp mischievous horror monster just out for a good time and a little chaos, a la "Goo Goo Muck," while the first verse is about the true crime tale of Issei Sagawa, a Japanese student at the Sorbonne in Paris, who murdered his classmate and ate her corpse. The second verse is complaining about gory horror movies that don't make for a good date night. The tonal shift robs the song of any meaning and implies that real-life murder and cannibalism is on the same level of badness as fictional gore.
But ultimately "Too Much Blood" is still a bop. Despite the burgeoning midlife crisis, it's not a bad song. The horns are cool, and it's well-adapted to the sound of the new decade. It's a fun song, just stoopid.
And everyone involved in the video looks like they were having fun.
One last interesting tidbit is that Keith Richards is not actually on the recording. He wasn't around when inspiration struck so a roadie named Jim Barber filled in. Barber says that Mick Jagger instructed him to "do an 'Andy Summers' on the track."It's perhaps for the best that Richards wasn't there; can you imagine the world's greatest guitarist being told to play like the guy from The Police?
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