There are vowelsounds here undreamed-of in prior pop: “hurricaayuhn”, “hahhhihg”, “doooouuwn”, the way Jagger gulps three times at “drowned”, more desperate each one. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” may have one of the classic Stones riffs but it’s the stupendous vocals that hog my attention. Jagger is demented, theatrical, electric, camp and – as ever – very funny at the same time.
The way the song starts reminds me of blues lyrics, but Jagger’s – or Jack’s – boasts of hardship are grotesquely amplified grand guignol claims. Not parody – he’s singing with complete conviction, but he’s located the thread of bravado in the blues and pulled at it hard. For all their roots in playing blues and R&B, Jagger never acted reverent to them, on the hits at least, and the Stones would have been a worse band if he had. Now his attitude is a mix of love and gleeful insolence, he heaps upon Jack the most fearful horrors and then dismisses them with a flick of the tongue, “Well it’s awl-right now, in fact it’s a gas.” Whatever happened before doesn’t matter, Jack is badder and better than the worst the world can throw.
Take that, and party: the so-what attitude is crucial to lots of great pop – which “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” is. The jangly outro is the best kind of indulgence, and the other Stones squeezing into backing-vox corsets to chorus “Jumpin Jack Flash! It’s a gas!” makes me grin too. Nothing I know of their later records sounds so light or so delighted.