The production of The Rolling Stones‘ Tattoo You was a difficult birth. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were going through a rough patch, a time that would eventually boil over into what Richards called “World War III” that took place during the late ’80s. Not terribly inclined to write or even record together, a solution was found by simply dipping into the band’s archives and pulling out finished or near-finished songs to polish up and assemble into a full album.
This plundering of outtakes should have been a sure sign that the Stones were running out of steam creatively. How could a bunch of once-rejected tracks possibly make for a quality album? Well, when you’re the Stones, even your stinkers are pretty damn good.
Tattoo You synthesised the past two decades of the band’s career into an album that let them exist for at least another two decades. ‘Start Me Up’, ‘Hang Fire’, ‘Little T&A’, and ‘Waiting on a Friend’ were all classic Stones songs in the making, and even the deeper cuts feel like they deserved to see the light of day. Had they been written later or saved for other albums, tracks like ‘Black Limousine’ and ‘Slave’ could have been late-period highlights for the band.
You would think that the Stones picked their vault dry to get enough material for a full studio album, but as is evidenced in the new Tattoo You deluxe reissue to celebrate the album’s 40th anniversary, there were at least a few other tracks up for consideration. One of those songs is called ‘Come to the Ball’, and with the release of the deluxe reissue, we’re finally able to hear the song now.
The fact that the song lists Jimmy Miller as a producer makes it likely that the song was originally recorded during the Goats Head Soup sessions, just like regular album tracks ‘Tops’ and ‘Waiting on a Friend’. The song itself is a slinky and loose rocker that is still very much in embryonic form, although with a more polished vocal take, it could have very easily found its way on to Tattoo You.
Check out the audio for ‘Come to the Ball’ down below.