↳ Sticky Fingers

                                            A monument to sleazy excess, the Stones’ crotch-centric classic cast off the gloom of the death of the ’60s and romped raunchily forward.

                                             Released: April 23, 1971 ― Label: Rolling Stones Records ― UK Charts Position: 1 ― Producer: Jimmy Miller ― Recorded: Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Alabama; Olympic Studios, London.

                       « It’s only a fucking record, man », chuckled Keith Richards in 1971, laughing off accusations that the references to heavy narcotics threaded throughThe Rolling Stones’ ninth studio album pointed to a band careeing out of control. « I mean, people, you can’t take a record like other people take the Bible », he continued, exasperated. Richards was right, for the most part ― it was right, for the mort part ― it was only a record, and neither he nor his bandmates were to follow the same fatal path as Brian Jones. But ‘Sticky Fingers’ soon became revered with the fanatical obsession due to a holy relic, a parable still followed by Bobby Gillespie, Jake Bugg and Jack White. Considered by many, including Richards himself, to be among the Stones’ best-ever albums, ‘Sticky Fingers’ is soeaked in love, lust and debaucherry, from its famous Warholian sleeve ― a close-up of male crotch in tight jeans, angled as if to thrust thair already unmissable sexual energy at you direct from the recod store CD rack ― to Mick Jagger’s shurred, louche wails.

                       With new guitarist Mick Taylor on board and fresh control over their music having split from Decca/London Records to start their own imprint, it’s the sound of the Rolling Stones with the shackles finally cast off. A more joyous, winsome listen than the downbeat ‘Let it Bleed’ from the get-go, ‘Brown Sugar’ collides Jagger’s libidinous swagger with the controversial sotry of a slave trade worker to a din of honky tonk pianos and roaring guitars, while the album’s lighters-in-the-air ballad ‘Wild Horses’ showcase their more tender side, its gentle Americana guitars wrapped in the most arresting melancholy. ‘Bitch’, too is a triumphant moment ― a thrilling freight train of rock’n’oll destruction, led by Bobby Key’s blasts of Motown brass. « I’m feelin’ drunk juiced up and sloppy »; sings Jagger woozily, ad it’s near impossible not to feel the same even as your listen in the most sober situations.

                      « I don’t think ‘Sticky Fingers’ is a heavy drug album any more than the world is a heavy world » said Richards. On a personal level too, it’d certainly been a heavy few years for the Rolling Stones, from Jones’ death to Altamont. Somehow, though, they’d bounced back to deliver an album that, rather than heavy-hearted, is irrespressible in its youthful spirit.                              © Al Horner.


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