Sticky Fingers – The Rolling Stones (1971, Rolling Stones Records)
I know at least one person who will disagree with me (Hi Dad) , but ‘Sticky Fingers’ is for me the definitive Stones album. It came at a time when in many people’s eyes the Stones could do no wrong. It was the third (and best) album in a run of four albums (‘Beggars Banquet’, ‘Let It Bleed’ and ‘Exile on Main Street’ being the others) that saw the band crowned, and then continue to be for a while at least – the greatest rock and roll band in the world. It was the album where Mick Jagger never sang better, Keith Richards riffs never sounded bigger or better and for the record the Warhol designed sleeve is probably one of the best album covers in musical history (original copies actually had a zip on the cover that you could open and shut – although it apparently damaged the vinyl – so they changed it to a photograph) I think it’s also the first Stones record to include the big lips logo that has become so famous since.
Brown Sugar – The Rolling Stones (1971, Rolling Stones Records)
‘Sticky Fingers’ just has so much, from the riff in album opener ‘Brown Sugar’ through the country tinged ‘Wild Horses’ to the distinctly latin style grooves of ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking’ all of it is superb (with exception, perhaps, of the bar room boogie and in hindsight, badly named ‘Bitch’).
Wild Horses – The Rolling Stones (1971, Rolling Stones Records)
Can’t You Hear Me Knocking – The Rolling Stones (1971, Rolling Stone Records)
‘Sticky Fingers’ is essentially Mick Jagger’s album, I mean after all his singing on it is insanely good. In most of the songs Jagger adopts a kind of faux American twang which alternates from Deep South Blues to honky tonk soul singer depending on the song (See ‘I Got the Blues’ for evidence on this, where Jagger appears to do a passable impression of Otis Redding). Jagger is great on ‘Sticky Fingers’ (even better than he is in the 80s futuristic thriller ‘Freejack’ and he is incredible in that) but I wanted to draw attention to the influence of Mick Taylor on the whole thing.
I Got the Blues – The Rolling Stones (1971, Rolling Stone Records)
‘Sticky Fingers’ was only the second Stones record that Taylor had played on (the first being a live album I think) and it is his influence here, his fluidity if you like that allows the band to really stretch out and enjoy themselves. It was Taylor as well who encouraged the band to add a more depth to certain songs, such as the country elements on ‘Wild Horses’ and the Latin flavour to ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking’ was solely Taylors idea (apparently).
The best two tracks on this marvellous album are quite near the end, ‘Sister Morphine’ and ‘Moonlight Mile’ are in some ways quite a departure from the rest of the album but they shine with a kind of tired beauty. They are exactly the sort of songs that Bobby Gillespie and Tim Burgess spent most of the Britpop years trying (and largely failing) to copy.
‘Moonlight Mile’ remains one of my favourite Stones songs. Proper music critics say that it’s the sound of a band who have had too much coke and are exhausted because of it – but to me it evokes images of the sun setting over the Mississippi for some reason. It is a remarkable end to a remarkable record.
Moonlight Mile – The Rolling Stones (1971, Rolling Stones Records)