Artist: Album (label, release date) 1-5 stars
The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers (Virgin, August 30, 2005) *****
The Rolling Stones: Exile On Main Street (Virgin, August 30, 2005) *****
The Rolling Stones: Some Girls (Virgin, August 30, 2005) ****
The Rolling Stones: Tattoo You (Virgin, August 30, 2005) ****
Virgin Records, proud owners of the Rolling Stones' 1971-2005 product (ABKCO still owns their 60's stuff), has re-released nine Rolling Stones albums just in time to benefit from this week's release of the Rolling Stones' first complete studio album since 1997, A Bigger Bang and coinciding U.S. tour. The other titles re-issued this week are: Goat's Head Soup, It's Only Rock 'n' Roll, Black And Blue, Emotional Rescue, and Flashpoint. While none of these albums has ever been hard to find, they are sometimes absent from bins in smaller CD shops or at places like Wal-Mart or Target, so if you get all your music at such locations, here's a chance to plug the gaps in your Stones collection. These albums cover the period from guitarist Mick Taylor's first studio album with the band (Sticky Fingers, from 1971), to bassist Bill Wyman's last appearance with the band (Flashpoint, from 1991). No extra goodies are included, unless the semi-tacky slipcase with the American flag on the Stones' tongue logo counts (the real covers are underneath).
The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers
Sticky Fingers was released in 1971, while the band was still more-or-less at its all time peak, and remains one of their very best albums ever. It was a notable album at the time for several reasons. First, it was Mick Taylor's first studio album with the band (Taylor first appeared on Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out in 1970, a document of the Stones' 1969 tour). Second, it was the first studio album from the Rolling Stones after the Altamont fiasco, which gained them some negative publicity and a stain on their image, traces of which still linger to this day. Third, Keith Richards was palling around with country-rock legend Gram Parsons during these and the Exile sessions. All three factors inform this album. While Taylor had a blues-rock pedigree as impressive as Brian Jones', his real strength was as a boogie guitarist, and this is one of the only albums from the Stones to feature room for stretching out. "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" is a steller jazzy hard rock extended number with a great jam featuring dueling Taylor/Richards guitar and sax from Bobby Keys. Altamont isn't addressed, except for perhaps "Dead Flowers" something of an epitaph for hippidom, something the Stones never really had much use for. "Dead Flowers" and the exquisitely lovely and sad "Wild Horses" (written for Marianne Faithfull, who OD'd and almost died at the time) showcase the Gram Parsons influence (Parsons covered "Wild Horses" with the Flying Burrito Brothers a year prior to this album's release). "Brown Sugar" and "Bitch" are classic Stones hard rockers. "Moonlight Mile" is another piece of tortured beauty, given arguably the best strings on a rock song ever by Paul Buckmaster. "Sway" is a mellow groove with plenty of Taylor guitar; instead of toning things down after Altamont, Jagger sings "It's just that evil life has got me in its sway". Rock 'n' roll, no "only" required.