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Mick Jagger: A Warning From History
John Doran , July 28th, 2017 11:09

So you think 'England Lost' featuring Skepta is an appalling single and you'd sooner push your own head into a food processor than listen to it again? Well, John Doran has got bad news for you - it doesn’t even feature in the top five worst cultural things the Rolling Stones frontman has ever done

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I don't know about you but I, for one, have spent the last one year, one month and five days thinking to myself: "Yeah, I get that the social, political, economic and moral climate in the UK is currently pretty bad and things are getting worse on a daily basis but when oh when are we going to find out what Mick Jagger thinks about 'Brexit', immigration and the amount of fast food we're all eating?"

Jagger, 74, who has an amassed fortune of £360 million, put us all out of our misery yesterday (July 27) by surprise releasing not one but two hard-hitting political 'statement' singles.

'Gotta Get A Grip' details how the singer has been trying to take his mind off current events by the means of acupuncture and "sexy meetings" before turning his laser eye on the culture of corruption and fast food we're all ball deep in: "Everybody's stuffing their pockets/ everybody's on the take/ the news is all fake/ let them eat chicken/ let them eat cake."

And then we get to the real meat of what's bugging him: "Chaos, crisis/ instability, ISIS" (except he genuinely might be singing, "Chaos, crisis/ instability ISAs", it's hard to tell).

'Gotta Get A Grip' isn't so bad actually, the Kevin Parker-mix is like a very weird mash up of Rattle And Hum era U2 playing that one note guitar riff from Isaac Hayes' 'Ike's Mood' that was sampled on every record made in Bristol in 1994 with a big dash of Mike Leander processed guitar lifted straight from Gary Glitter's 'Rock And Roll'.

'England Lost' however is something else entirely. I DJd a particularly hectic New Year's Eve party in a warehouse in Stoke Newington a few years ago and when it got to about 10am the next day I realised it was time to leave very abruptly. A member of Hackney noise dance unit Gum Takes Tooth started trying to talk to me but he was so spectacularly muntered that the noises coming out of his mouth were so weird and unlike human language that I immediately started having a bad trip. The extension cable that my laptop was plugged into was sitting in a pool of spilled beer on the floor and when I tried to unplug it I received a mild but frightening electric shock. Being so colossally clattered I immediately forgot what happened and tried to unplug my laptop again and got a second electric shock. It wasn't until I'd received a third electric shock that I realised it would probably be for the best if I just left my computer there and pick it up the next day.

Listening to 'England Lost' is a very similar experience in that each time you end up thinking, "Well, surely, I must have imagined how bad it was." So you listen to it again and then end up flying backwards across the room in a flash of life-ending blue light.

I have neither the emotional resilience or psychic cushioning to closely analyse all the things wrong with this track, from its red-hot musical touchstones of Duran Duran's '911's A Joke' to the country rap production style of Everlast, to Jagger's Tourettes-like stream of comic asides to the listener via the 'Land Of Hope And Glory' whistling outro. Even more than these horrors, something that stands out like Frank Butcher naked bar a spinning bow tie at your mother's funeral are Skepta's savagely appalling guest bars.

Speaking about the collaboration Jagger said: "Right from the off when I started writing 'England Lost', I imagined having a British rapper on the track... Skepta stepped in at a moment's notice and I just loved what he did."

Yeah, because in no way does the following rhyme - "It's a deja vu I've seen it all before/ different season, same score/ Everybody wants your head on a spike/ but they were singing your praises the day before/ No new faces allowed in/ they say it's getting overcrowded/ Still fighting over houses/ so I just pick it up put down and leave it where I found it/ Feel like Macaulay Culkin I'm Home Alone/ Come to my window and throw a stone" - sound like it was made up at a moment's notice and delivered in one take by an MC who was running out of the studio, calling Uber on speed dial with a bag of cash under his arm literally five minutes later.

Speaking about the subversive, DIY, counter-culturally raw nature of the project that now must surely see him stand shoulder to shoulder with Peter And The Test Tube Babies, Underground Resistance and Nurse With Wound, Jagger said: "I started writing these two songs in April and wanted them out straight away. Doing a whole album often takes a long time even after finishing it with all the record company preparations and global release set up. It's always refreshing to get creative in a different fashion and I feel a slight throwback to a time when you could be a bit more free and easy by recording on the hoof and putting it out there immediately. I didn't want to wait until next year when these two tracks might lose any impact and mean nothing".

Yeah, thank god he didn't hang around thinking too hard about what these songs actually sound like.

To strike a vaguely serious note for a second, I'll pretty much forgive anyone involved with 'Emotional Rescue', 'Undercover Of The Night' and 'Miss You' any cultural crimes but it's still my duty to point out that 'England Lost' is by no means the worst artistic project that Jagger has been involved in. Below, is our list of Mick Jagger's five worst crimes against the arts. It's an entirely subjective matter. Feel free to list your own in the comments feature below.

[Younger readers of a sensitive disposition may want to take 10mg of diazepam before reading any further.]

FIVE: Mick Jagger - 'Let's Work'

Imagine, if you will, for a second being a sentient alien being on a habitable planet orbiting some far flung sun in the goldilocks zone. And imagine that it's your job to scan the deepest reaches of the universe for transmissions from alien civilisations proving that there is "something out there". And then imagine than after decades of searching, this video transmission is the first thing you stumble across. Don't lie to me. You'd fucking shit yourself. You would wipe one green tentacle across a now heavily perspiring forehead before phoning up your superior and telling him: "Boss, you need to get in here and take a look at this. We've got what looks like Fred West on poppers chasing a load of women and children down a busy motorway full of imaginary bouncy balls. If these monsters ever develop the capacity for intergalactic travel, we are totally fucked."

FOUR: Ned Kelly

Yo, Brad Pitt in The Devil's Own and Tommy Lee Jones in Blown Away take a seat lads, I think we've found the world's worst cinematic Irish accent. Take it away Mick: "First we have to foight…" Extra marks for the spectacularly bad boxing scene which is only rivalled in terms of what-the-fuckery by the time an elderly Al Pacino punched Henry Rollins through a brick wall in Michael Mann's Heat.

THREE: SuperHeavy - 'Miracle Worker'

In the unlikely event you've ever been kept awake at night wondering what Rumpelstiltskin's ballsack would look like dressed in tight pink suit, never fear - resolution is at hand. Pop reggae act SuperHeavy are interesting in that even if you happen to be a massive fan of the work of Joss Stone, Dave Stewart and Damien Marley, this track makes you confront the timeless philosophical conundrum that even if you make the world's nicest pizza - is it still the world's nicest pizza if a dog takes a shit on it?

TWO: Fitzcarraldo

SOUTH AMERICA! I know this version of Herzog's masterpiece didn't make it to the cinema but just revel in the few scraps we have left of what could quite possibly be the worst piece of acting ever captured on celluloid.

ONE: Peter Tosh - 'Don't Look Back'

While 'England Lost' may well be the worst single released this year, it pales in comparison with the video to 'Don't Look Back' featuring Peter 'Legalise It' Tosh of The Wailers, which has the unique status of being the worst thing that has ever happened anywhere at any point in all recorded history. Tosh understandably spends half the video time staring at his feet, close to immobilised by mortification, praying for the Earth to swallow him up whole - a feeling that Skepta may come to recognise over the next few days, if not decades. Jagger, on particularly demented and evil form here, looks like Roger The Alien from American Dad! with giant arse cheek implants. Watch Jagger's dancing reach some kind of critical mass at about 1'50" as he starts to resemble some kind of ancient malignant chicken god having a seizure.

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Christopher Owens
Jul 28, 2017 12:04pm

'Dancing in the Streets.'

Never forget.

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Graham Russell
Jul 28, 2017 12:20pm

And you didn't even mention his "Dancin' In the Street" duet with David Bowie?

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John Doran
Jul 28, 2017 1:41pm

The Video to Dancing In The Street is pretty entertaining though and it got a free pass because of that.

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Darth Tinder
Jul 28, 2017 2:50pm

Superheavy: imagine being so desperate to NOT go on tour with the Stones that you'd make a reggae album with Dave Stewart instead. Poor sod.

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Jul 28, 2017 4:07pm

Jesus. That's hideous. Although I did laugh quite loudly at "Singapore.... but not as hot".

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Jul 28, 2017 9:24pm

I quite liked it. Best he's done since 1978

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Jul 28, 2017 9:36pm

Plastic soul man, plastic soul

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Jul 29, 2017 3:20am

There have been other past indicators of Mick's deep connection to socio-political issues, like 'War Baby' off Primitive Cool. Exhibit A m'lud:

War Baby by Mick Jagger

I was born in a war
So they call me a war baby
I was born in a war
And it don't make me war crazy
And the guns start to roar
As the fire sweeps the street
Why can't we walk the road together
And keep our children safe and sure
War - War Baby
And the war made us poor
Made our future unsure
Why don't we run this race together
And keep our children safe and sure
But the arms race is on
And the tanks all roll out
All the guns are in place
We just wait for the shout
To arms, to arms
And the guns start to roar From the ship to the shore
And the bombs start to fall
As we crouch in the hall
as they bust through the breach
Out on Omaha Beach

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Ronnie Rocket
Jul 29, 2017 4:17am

I love Mick Jagger. I love The Quietus. But this is the worst thing I have read here. Is it a new, confused writer or is it satire? This article belongs in a bad newspaper. Not a cool blog.

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Jul 29, 2017 7:56am

You forgot his greatest crime of all:

Jagger rears his ugly head the the 3m27s mark

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Jul 29, 2017 9:26am

Better than Sleaford Mods.

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Jul 29, 2017 4:42pm

"England Lost" is pretty cool song really.

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Jul 29, 2017 6:11pm

It's an article written whith things in mind other than Mick Jagger and $.
Anyway, it perfectly reflects that Jagger's strong digestive track proves to be one of the many outstanding boosters for his successful career.

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Jul 29, 2017 8:57pm

Agree with this list but can’t get with the “Don’t look back” hate. A much better track than the rest here, and what about his dancing? Jagger’s gonna Jagger yo. Not half as ridiculous as the Bett Middler video. There are some much worse things to hate out there.

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Jul 29, 2017 8:57pm

Agree with this list but can’t get with the “Don’t look back” hate. A much better track than the rest here, and what about his dancing? Jagger’s gonna Jagger yo. Not half as ridiculous as the Bett Middler video. There are some much worse things to hate out there.

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John Doran
Jul 29, 2017 11:09pm

In reply to Ben:

While THE (The Hardest Thing Ever) is clearly appalling, Jagger, weirdly enough, is the least offensive thing about it, so I gave it a free pass.

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Ned Raggett
Jul 30, 2017 2:26am

For my sins, I've seen the entirety of this. Dear GOD.

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Jul 31, 2017 8:56am

-2001 Channel 4 documentary Mick which was publicised on billboards and much talked about in the press because of Jagger saying something or other about "fuzzy morals" (???)
And then it was shown, and only about 150 people watched it.

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Jul 31, 2017 9:44am

If I may be so bold as to add a sixth cardinal sin from the rusted old Jagger cannon, I frankly can't believe the esteemed Mr Doran has overlooked the carnal nightmare that is 'Ol Mick's 80s softcore anthem "Sex Drive". Even typing that made me gag.

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Jul 31, 2017 6:09pm

Taking a dig at Old Rubber Lips you make a facetious reference to The Nazis, how many jews lived in Europe when The National Socialists came to power in Germany in 1933? Answer this & maybe you're worth a punt.

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Aug 2, 2017 11:50am

74 year old man dropped a few clangers during a career as the greatest front man ever and lead singer of the Rolling Stones.

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Councillor Dredge
Aug 2, 2017 2:23pm


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Aug 2, 2017 3:52pm

Poor old toshie eh? Mortified wuz 'e? Well he didn't have to give Jag an in on the black sound did he? Yet he did! Hoping you meditate on this truth, acknowledge & accept it & in so doing write honestly.

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Steven Augustine
Sep 3, 2017 11:15am

Uh yeah. I read a bizarrely unnecessary/ irrelevant piece like this (have Mick's activities been of general interest since the late '70s?) and wonder what little bit of propaganda it's meant to support, or what bit of counter-propaganda it is meant to discredit. Seriously: how did Mick Jagger manage to touch some kind of nerve after all these years? If only I could bear reading more than three paragraphs into this shitty hit-piece to find out...

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