if you're familiarity with the Stones extends to things like Start Me Up, Beast of Burden, and Anybody Seen My Baby? and are wondering if Undercover is an album for you, here's a sample lyric from Undercover's "Too Tough":
I still see you in my dreams
With a kitchen knife
With it poised above your head
Now who you gonna slice?
This is a far cry from the lovely and fraternal sentiments of Waiting on a Friend.
As the follow-up to Tattoo You, Undercover was a bizarre turn. Tattoo You was an album consisting of classicist - and classic - rockers, radio-friendly lyrics and production, and featured the Stones playing to their strengths. Undercover, on the other hand, shows the band experimenting (and not always succeeding), has a weird, dub-like production, subject matter including politics, serial killers, overdoses, and sado-masochism. You know, the stuff that always gets air-play on FM radio. Lyrically, it is the goriest, grizzliest, and most gratuitous album in the Stones catalog.
The title track and the closing "It Must Be Hell" are political depictions - both socially and militarily - while "Too Tough", "Tie You Up", even the hilariously terrifying (or is that terrifyingly hilarious?) "Too Much Blood" are songs of the complexities of relationships. The album's tone is leavened by "She Was Hot" (a song about a one-night conquest) and Keith's "Wanna Hold You" (think early Beatles, as played by the Stones on half-inspiration).
If you're a devoted Stones fan, there are riffs a-plenty here. As fort what the Stones were attempting to achieve, think "Gimme Shelter", "Sister Morphine" and the unfortunate "Dancing With Mr. D". But, unike the Stones of the late 60's/early 70's, these songs aren't addresses from the heart of the fire. If you're a more casual listener, there are many other Stones albums to explore first.