Music-lov­ing schlock fiends must remem­ber to keep their ears and minds open because you nev­er know where a schlock anthem will pop up.  Even the most main­stream rock bands are capa­ble of pro­duc­ing one.  Case in point: the Rolling Stone’s mem­o­rable and very odd “Too Much Blood.”  It’s eas­i­ly one of the odd­est tracks they ever released and has a num­ber of ele­ments that will endear this song to the schlock fan.

Too Much Blood” was an album track from 1983’s Undercover album.  It was nev­er per­formed live but it got a lit­tle action on radio and in the clubs, plus the group thought enough of the song to shoot a video for it.    It was a bit too eccen­tric for rota­tion-screen­ing on MTV but it made it onto the occa­sion­al late night show like Night Flight (which is how Your Humble Reviewer first saw it).  It prob­a­bly reached the most peo­ple via the group’s 1984 Video Rewind VHS videos com­pi­la­tion.

The song first catch­es the listener’s atten­tion with its son­ic approach: despite the ear­ly 1980’s record­ing date, this is essen­tial­ly a dis­co song.  It announces its style to the lis­ten­er with a boo­gie-style bass line that ush­ers in a wave of trop­i­cal per­cus­sion and wild, jazzy horn arrange­ments that evoke ear­ly Italo-dis­co at its wildest.  The track is also unique in that it dis­pense with gui­tar solo­ing in favor of tex­tu­ral play­ing that sounds like what Adrian Belew did dur­ing his stint in the Talking Heads.  The end result feels like the kind of source-music dis­co track one might hear in an Italian flick like House On The Edge Of The Park.

The Stones had flirt­ed with dis­co before — “Miss You” was the most suc­cess­ful exam­ple but “Hot Stuff” is an even more potent rock/disco fusion — but it was a very odd gam­bit for them to exper­i­ment with the gen­re so late in the game.  That said, it fits in nice­ly on the thor­ough­ly under­rat­ed Undercover, a tough-sound­ing and eclec­tic release that also incor­po­rates hard rock, new wave and reg­gae into its off­beat brew of sounds.

Another fas­ci­nat­ing ele­ment of “Too Much Blood” is that it’s basi­cal­ly a spo­ken-word piece with a cho­rus and a creepy lit­tle chant (“pret­ty lady, don’t be scared”) near the end.  The spo­ken word stuff is an impro­vised protest towards the fetish-styled treat­ment of vio­lence in the media and it comes in two dis­tinct sec­tions.  The first fea­tures Jagger relat­ing a sto­ry about a Japanese man in France who killed his lover, ate her and then got caught bury­ing the bones.  Though he isn’t men­tioned the name, this is the sto­ry of real-life murderer/cannibal Issei Sagawa.  This first rap is creepy enough if you don’t know that info but twice as unnerv­ing if you do, evok­ing the specter of Jagger’s Boston Strangler-inspired rap in the mid­dle of the live ver­sion of “Midnight Rambler” from Get Your Ya-Yas Out.

The sec­ond spo­ken part is a fun­ny mock-protest again­st overt­ly vio­lent movies built around Jagger’s com­ments on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (“Ever see The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? ‘Orrible, wasn’t it?” ).  It’s pret­ty hilar­i­ous, build­ing from a descrip­tion of how the film has made him scared of stop­ping in Texas and build­ing into a lec­ture on how he’d prefer to see “some­thing you can take the wife to” like An Officer And A Gentleman! However, the best part might be a moment where he offers his dead­pan reac­tion to a poten­tial attack from Leatherface (“oh, don’t saw off me arm… don’t saw off me leg.”).  It’s wit­ty in a very macabre way.

That said, the song is even bet­ter and more apro­pos to the schock fan’s palate when it is com­bined with the mag­nif­i­cent video direct­ed by Julien Temple.  Its fram­ing device focus­es on a wom­an who turns to t.v. to ease her mind after being creeped out by a news mag­a­zine with grue­some pho­tos of mum­mies and crime sce­nes.  After flip­ping past some vio­lent movies — which include clips from Basket Case and Female Trouble (!) — she finds a music pro­gram.  Of course, the Stones are on,  play­ing in an out­door, Latin American or Mexican set­ting that con­jures up mem­o­ries of The Evil That Men Do.

This is where the video real­ly gets fun.  The setup allows Temple to work in a num­ber of hor­ror-ref­er­enc­ing visu­al touch­es and he piles them on with gus­to.   Jagger grabs a drink out of a fridge that has sev­ered limbs in it and Ron Wood and Keith Richards play­ful­ly attack him with chain­saws when they’re not play­ing their gui­tars.  Meanwhile, the video lives up to the song’s title by bedev­il­ing the hero­ine of the fram­ing device with blood from all direc­tions: in her drink­ing glass, ooz­ing out tele­phone receivers and elec­tri­cal out­lets, gush­ing out of the faucet and even rolling down the tele­vi­sion screen.

Between the music and the video, “Too Much Blood” offers a smor­gas­board of dark­ly humor­ous delights that will appeal to the schlock fan’s set of gal­lows humor.  For that, it eas­i­ly earns its place in the Schlock Anthem pan­theon.