The second incarnation of my blog
Based on the top 100 albums in Rolling Stone magazine’s top 500, I have set myself the challenge of hearing and appraising each album. I hope to be surprised and educated along the way.
At number 65 is The Rolling Stones with their 1971 album Sticky Fingers.
It is Mick Taylor’s first appearance proper on a Rolling Stones album, the first not to feature any contributions from founder Brian Jones and the first on which singer Mick Jagger is credited with playing guitar.
The cover by Andy Warhol caused some controversy when released because of clearly the suggested outline of a penis and in some countries was censored.
We kick off with a classic rocker Brown Sugar that was primarily the work of Jagger, who wrote it sometime during the filming in Australia. It has some great riffs and is instantly recognisable. Sway could only be a ‘Stones song – full of harmony and guitars and a big finish.
You can sometimes forget that the Stones made some stunning ballads and Wild Horses is just a brilliant song. It lumbers along at times, but it’s a great performance throughout. Random fact: Jerry Hall named the song as her favourite Rolling Stones song.
Can’t You Hear Me Knocking starts out as quite a “normal” song but developments into over 7 minutes of something impressive with a bluesy, jazzy (I assume mainly improvised) section that brings the track alive.
I’d skip You Gotta Move if I were you and get to side 2 with the very 70’s sounding Bitch which is a Stone-rocker-by-numbers whilst I Got the Blues is a slow-paced track with languid guitars influenced by both blues and soul.
Sister Morphine was co-written by Marianne Faithful (well, agreed after some legal wrangling) and it obviously about drugs, but it’s not clear if it’s about a painkiller or something more recreational. It reminds me of the John Lennon song How do you sleep? in some parts, especially the slide guitar.
Dead flowers is country pastiche that I could do without, but the closing track, Moonlight Mile is far more interesting building around guitar riffs. It has more drug references and stories of being on tour. Mick Taylor clearly did far more on the construction of this song than Keith Richards, but failed to get a writing credit. That seems odd to many fans.
One of the things I like about this album is that they don’t aim for perfection. That may sound a little odd, but when you hear the guitars and vocals slightly out of time (or even tune) you get to hear the songs as they were performed without lots of overdubs. This is more natural and sometimes easier on the ear strangely enough than the overproduced and pro-tool amended albums of today.
You can’t say that this album breaks any new ground for the band, but it’s still a very good listen and better that I was expecting. I never really see the Rolling Stones as an album band, but my views are changing…
My rating: 6/10
Standout tracks: Brown Sugar, Wild Horses, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking
Listen to the album here.
See the Top 100 here.