Keith Richards Partners With Fender For 30th Anniversary Of Life-Changing Record

Talk Is Cheap didn’t just recharge my batteries,” Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards said back in 1997 when reflecting on his 1988 solo debut. “It brought me back to life.”

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of that resuscitation, the iconic guitarist is reissuing Talk Is Cheap in style. The campaign features previously-unreleased material from the original sessions as well as an exclusive partnership with the Fender Custom Shop.

The release caters to every level of fanhood. In addition to the standard CD and LP versions, there are two box sets. The limited-edition deluxe box includes two LPs, two seven-inch singles, two CDs, a hardback book, six unreleased tracks, and plenty of extra goodies, all wrapped in a faux-tweed folio. Compared to most reissues, that would already be a lot — but the “super deluxe” box changes the game altogether.

In addition to everything from the deluxe edition, you get a hand-built box directly from the Fender Custom Shop using the same materials as Keith’s signature Telecaster. It’s like having your own little little Micawber. And for 250 special fans, you can get it autographed by the man himself.

Keith Richards - Talk Is Cheap deluxe box set

In typical Keith Richards fashion, this package is all about giving that extra touch. “When I put out a product, I want everybody to know that it’s been handmade, well-made, and it’s got a stamp of approval on it,” he said. “I can’t fool about.”

Three decades later, that quality goes beyond the packaging for Richards. “I think it was as fresh as the day it was made, really,” he said. “It’s a great record. I was listening to a couple of tracks the other day, and they could’ve been recorded anytime.”

Talk Is Cheap began at a precarious time for The Rolling Stones. The band had never been quiet about interpersonal issues, but in 1987 it really looked like the Stones might not get back together. So Richards corralled a band of high-grade hired guns he worked with in the past, named them the X-Pensive Winos, and made a record.

The experience was invigorating. “You’re working with a team and you feel like you’re all working in the same direction,” he reminisced. “You can’t buy that. It’s basically rock and roll heaven. … Everybody could play three or four instruments, and that makes it a different feel. There’s a lot of experimenting going on.”

In addition to the band — which featured co-producer Steve Jordan, Waddy Wachtel, Ivan Neville, and Charley Drayton — Richards called in favors from heavy-hitters like Bootsie Collins, Bernie Worrell, Willie Mitchell, Mick Taylor, and Chuck Leavell, among others.  

Just like the Winos themselves, the guest appearances came about in an organic fashion — albeit the kind of organic that only happens when you’re a legend making a record. “When we were jamming, coming up with Big Enough, it became clear to me that it would be great if we had Bootsie Collins playing bass on it,” Jordan recalled. “We thought OK, it’s Keith Richards. You can get anybody you want. Why not call Bootsie?”

That’s right, when a Rolling Stone wants someone to sound like Bootsie Collins, why settle for an impersonation? As Jordan said, “I was like, ‘Really what I’m hearing is the stuff you used to play with James Brown,’ and [Bootsie] said, ‘Oh, you want the tip-toe funk, baby.’”

“The ingredient,” Richards said, imparting his central takeaway from Talk Is Cheap, “is a certain joy, a certain fun of putting something together that you couldn’t do by yourself. It’s brotherhood.”

Now you have a chance you own a little piece of the brotherhood in a way you couldn’t before.

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