The Rolling Stones have one of the most formidable back catalogues of all time. With 30 studio albums and over 100 singles over the course of their 60-year career, the Stones could play a completely new setlist every night from now until they’re all dead and still not be able to cover all of their material. According to setlist.com, the Stones have played over 2,000 different songs since 1962.
With such an extensive array of song possibilities, it’s understandable that a few gems might get overlooked. This is especially true if, say, the possible song in question was a contentious change in style that created friction between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Thankfully, that’s not the case with most of the Stones’ songs, but it very well could be the case for ‘Emotional Rescue’.
Released on the 1980 album of the same name, ‘Emotional Rescue’ takes the formula of Some Girls’ ‘Miss You’ and doubles down on the disco beats and bumping bass line. Jagger sings the song in an exaggerated falsetto, and Ronnie Wood acts as his major counterpoint, providing the bassline that gives the song most of its drive.
Although the song credits Richards as a songwriter and player on the record, Richards’ guitar is only barely audible throughout the track. Richards was said to have disliked the disco turn that the Stones were making in the late 1970s, and his aversion to the genre could be the reason why The Rolling Stones didn’t play ‘Emotional Rescue’ live until more than 30 years after its release as a single.
That first live performance came at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on May 3rd, 2013, a full 33 years after the release of ‘Emotional Rescue’. The Stones subsequently kept the song in their set for a short amount of time, with the final performance of the track to date occurring on May 26th, 2014. All told, the Stones only performed ‘Emotional Rescue’ 20 times, and it seems unlikely that the song will be played again.
Check out a rare live performance of ‘Emotional Rescue’ down below.