John Phillips: Pussycat

Music Reviews John Phillips
John Phillips: Pussycat

Stones collaboration limp and lifeless

This project was a great idea. Unfortunately, the idea is where the greatness ended. Who wouldn’t be thrilled at the prospect of getting the classic Stones guitar duo of Mick Taylor and Keith Richards—the team that shelled out searing riffs by the pound on Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main Street)—back together to record with The Mamas & the Papas’ John Phillips? Add to the mix Mick Jagger producing and singing backup, Ron Wood on bass, Michelle Phillips guesting on vocals, Traffic’s percussionist, and pianist Jean Roussel, and top it off with a big budget from Atlantic Records and the blessing of Ahmet Ertegun. How could this go wrong? Well, it was 1977. And the album turned into a lifeless, drug-addled mess. The general coked- and smacked-out madness of this era—and the way it demented arguably great artists into thinking the material they were working on at the moment was actually good—is sad and even a bit scary. These original album mixes are mid-rangey and thin-sounding, and while I know Keith Richards often looks like a walking corpse, he’s rarely sounded this much like one. Most everyone on Pussycat appears to be playing it safe—there’s not the slightest hint of the cajones that fuel the best Stones material; instead, Phillips’ record is mired in syrupy strings, overdone choirs and hokey, sentimental songs. While there’s the occasional redeeming guitar solo, the bright spots are overwhelmed by Pussycat’s obnoxiously lazy rhymes and excruciatingly vacuous disco clunkers. It’s easy to see why Mick and Keith eventually walked away and Atlantic pulled the plug.

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