Sticky Fingers featured one of the most inventive album covers in history. There was an actual zipper that could by pulled down. Now for any of you who own the original LP, did you actually unzip it just to see what was there? And for all the trivia buffs out there, what was found?
A lot had happened to the Rolling Stones since the release of Let It Bleed. Brian Jones had been found dead at the bottom of his swimming pool. His demise was termed "death by misadventure" but controversy has surrounded it for decades. The Rolling Stones performance at the Altamont Speedway in California resulted in the beating death of a fan by some Hell’s Angels who had been hired to provide security. This beating was caught on tape. Keith Richards had also begun using heroin regularly and was not available for some of the tracks on this album.
On the positive side, the Rolling Stones had started their own label and Sticky Fingers was its first release. It would also be the first of eight consecutive number one albums for the Stones and would remain on the American charts for 62 weeks.
Sticky Fingers is, in many ways, the band's most personal album. The stark textures of drug use and personal pain are clothed in some of the best rock ‘n’ roll ever produced.
The number one single, “Brown Sugar,” leads off the album. Society was changing and The Rolling Stones were changing along with it. This rocking song of interracial sex would not have received any airplay just a few years before. Bobby Keys would bring his sax virtuosity to this song and others and would be hired to tour with the band as well. He would be a strong addition to the Stones sound.
“Wild Horses” would also be released as a single but only reach number 28 on the charts. This classic slow song with beautiful lyrics and Mick Jagger’s emotional vocal deserved better.
“Can You Hear Me Knocking” should be played as loud as your stereo system and ears can handle. This song has more jamming in it than actual structure. Billy Preston on organ and Bobby Keys on sax drive the song to its conclusion.
“Sister Morphine” was co-written by Marianne Faithful and originally was issued as a single by her. Now this song became a personal cry of pain for The Rolling Stones and especially Keith Richards. It remains a chilling listening experience almost four decades later.
Mick Taylor blossomed on Sticky Fingers. Keith Richards involvement was limited by his increasing addiction and Taylor would provide most of the guitar work. This is very clear on “I Got The Blues” where Taylor goes in a jazz direction as a counterpoint to Billy Preston’s gospel oriented keyboard work.
“Moonlight Mile” ends the album on a hopeful note and provides some relaxation compared to the intensity of the rest of the disc. Mick Taylor’s almost dreamy guitar floats through the mix. This is the first Rolling Stones song where Keith Richards does not receive a playing credit.
Sticky Fingers continued the string of superb album releases by The Rolling Stones. It remains as solid and listenable today as it did in 1971.