The Rolling Stones

Start Me Up

Song Review by

There were hits after "Start Me Up," but at this remove, it's undeniable that this 1981 single was the last great Rolling Stones song. That is, it's a riff-rocker in the tradition of "Honky Tonk Women" or "Satisfaction," a tough little rock & roll song powered by one of Keith Richards' trademark riffs and a solid Charlie Watts backbeat. The riff and the backbeat are so good, in fact, that it's easy to ignore the fact that, really, the song doesn't actually go anywhere: other than the repeated "You make a grown man cry" bridge, the verse (that is, riff plus backbeat) is the entire song. Although the whole thing is over in a concise three and a half minutes, the song is so static that it feels much longer; the extended fade, over which Mick Jagger awkwardly ad-libs a few more lines including the immortally dorky "You make a dead man come," doesn't help. As one of the most beloved Rolling Stones songs, "Start Me Up" is particularly ripe for parody, the most perfect being the deadpan folk singalong that the Folksmen (Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer) perform on A Mighty Wind: The Album; Shearer's spoken word recitations of Jagger's poesy, delivered in his Principal Skinner voice from The Simpsons, are particularly priceless.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Tattoo You 1981 Virgin 3:32
Rewind (1971-1984) 1984 Columbia / Rolling Stones Records 3:34
Jump Back: The Best of the Rolling Stones (1971-1993) 1993 Virgin 3:34
Music of the Millennium, Vol. 1 [Universal] 1999
Various Artists
Universal International 0:00
Music of the Millennium, Vol. 2 [Universal] 2000
Various Artists
Universal International 3:33
Music of the Millenium 2001
Various Artists
Umusic 3:32
Forty Licks 2002 ABKCO Records 3:33
Toronto Rocks 2004
Various Artists
Rhino
LP Sleeve Box Set 2005 Toshiba EMI
Rock Anthems [Universal 2010] 2010
Various Artists
EMI / Universal Music TV 3:34
Gods of Guitar [Universal] 2011
Various Artists
Universal 3:33
The Singles: 1971-2006 2011 Polydor 3:35
GRRR! 2012 ABKCO Records 3:32
Honk 2019 Interscope 3:32
No Image
Various Artists
Strategic Marketing 3:35
No Image
Various Artists