Thursday, January 9, 2014

63 Sticky Fingers (1971) The Rolling Stones

1. Brown Sugar
2. Sway
3. Wild Horses
4. Can't You Hear Me Knocking
5. You Gotta Move
6. Bitch
7. I Got the Blues
8. Sister Morphine
9. Dead Flowers
10. Moonlight Mile

Every single song on this album is brilliant. Every single damn song. There aren't many albums that can make that claim and those that can are frequently stuck in one genre. Sticky Fingers is an album of magnificent blues, rock, country, freak out and balladry with not a single foot put wrong in the entire running length. It's the sound of the greatest rock and roll band in the land at the time stamping their authority on the start of the decade. That stamp would start to fade by the end of the seventies but here at the beginning it was proudly decisive.

Brown Sugar is the track that everybody knows and the biggest song on Sticky Fingers.  I recently listened to the Stones 2013 performance at Hyde Park which they released on their website, Jagger, Richards and Watts have been playing Brown Sugar for forty years now but the Hyde Park version sounds like they're cranking out a tune they only wrote a few weeks ago. It's got a vibrancy about it which stems from the fact that these guys love doing this. They like nothing more than playing dirty rock and roll for screaming fans and Brown Sugar is one of their grittiest, sleaziest and rockiest tracks. Playing Brown Sugar is what these guys want to do and it's where they want to be (well it's definitely where two of them want to be and it's where Charlie is prepared to be for the sake of the others and the money).

Brown Sugar might be the best known of the rock tracks on Sticky Fingers but if you haven't heard the other then you need to check it out. Most bands in the early seventies would have killed to have written Bitch. It's a magnificent track that rocks hard and is signature trademark Stones. The fact that most people haven't heard of it is testament to the incredible song writing run that Jagger and Richards were enjoying at the time. They produced so many great songs in such a short space of time, which meant Bitch was relegated to a lowly B-side status, but if any other band had written it (and I literally mean any other band) it would have been rushed out as a hit single.

Sticky also boasts some fantastic ballads (or "songs that are a little bit romantic" as Jagger often introduces them onstage), an area that wasn't necessarily the Stones strongpoint. Wild Horses is the most famous thanks to several cover versions, starting in 1970 with the Flying Burrito Brothers version that was released before the Stones version was and most recently by Susan Boyle on her massive selling debut album. Once again however the big track is supported by several stellar lesser songs which are brilliant and tragically overlooked. Moonlight Mile is gorgeous, Sister Morphine is one of the best songs about drug dependency every recorded. I got the Blues is pure soul and Dead Flowers is a country inspired ballad that only the Stones can pull off. There's something about Jagger's genuine affection for country music, but total unsuitability for the medium, that actually works. He doesn't have a country voice which makes his attempts at country music affecting rather than a cheap copy.

When the Stones celebrated 50 years together, those of us who consider ourselves fans were delighted that Mick Taylor was invited to the party. Taylor was a Rolling Stone for several years and played guitar during their best run of albums. He's widely regarded as the most talented guitar player to ever call themselves a Stone and Sticky Fingers gave him several opportunities to really shine. The final three minute guitar jam that concludes Can't you hear me knocking is often held up as one of the great guitar solos of all time even though Taylor had no idea that tape was still rolling and was just fooling around in the studio. The music was just pouring out of him and was captured for posterity and wisely released on the album. Giving Taylor the chance to replicate his greatest moment as a Stone for their fiftieth anniversary run of shows was a genius move and a fantastic thing for the fans to see.

Sticky Fingers is often overshadowed by the massive follow up that was Exile on Mainstreet and by Beggars Banquet and Let it Bleed that came before it, but it deserves to be celebrated for being a perfect album in every way and proof that The Rolling Stones managed to hit a commercial peak that nobody else has managed to come close to since.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Look at the art cover of this CD. What are they? GAYS?? I think so. At least put the picture of a girl wearing jeans."

-Homophobia lives and runs rampant on Amazon. Who would have thought.

So where does Sticky Fingers stand on your list of great Stones albums? Let me know below.

1 comment:

  1. Best run of albums ever. Shame Mick Taylor didnt last. But then again the new guy is pretty good too. Love,love love this run of albums. can I gloat ? I am going to see them in March. Yeah.