Friday, October 31, 2014

"Sticky Fingers" by The Rolling Stones (April, 1971)

Brad's Take:

Right off the bat, I enjoyed this album much more than Aftermath. It's immediately more energetic and rockin'. This is the kind of Rolling Stones stuff I am into.

The best thing about Sticky Fingers (besides the scandalous album cover) is that just about every song is great! You have the fast hard rock songs that I love most, like "Brown Sugar" and "Bitch", but you also have some awesome slower jams like "Wild Horses" and "I Got The Blues", and even with the differences in tempos throughout the album, it still feels like a consistent and cohesive album.

There isn't really much else to say about this album. I'm sure it's not their greatest album in their huge discography, but it's nowhere near bad.

Dad's Take:

Unlike most British Invasion bands, the Rolling Stones made it into the 70s without becoming a nostalgia act. And they had a great decade. Their first studio album of the decade, and their first on their new record label, is often considered one of their best. It's their first to have no contribution at all from Brian Jones, who had died in 1969, but it is drenched with excellent guitar playing from Mick Taylor.

The album opens with "Brown Sugar," one of my favorite Stones songs, so I like it right off the bat. After that it's sort of a mixed bag. I'm not usually a big fan of Stones ballads, but "Wild Horses" is one of their better slow songs. Same with "I Got the Blues," one of the few ballads where Jagger doesn't sound slightly out of place.

"Can't You Hear Me Knockin'" is a good mid-tempo rocker with a funky, lengthy instrumental jam, the kind of song the Stones do so well. That jam apparently happened by accident. Both Keith Richards and Mick Taylor claim they just kept playing after they finished the song, but the tape was rolling and they liked what they ended up with.

"Bitch" opens side two the way "Brown Sugar" starts the record. It's one of the highlights of the album I love it when the Stones show their harder, rougher side, and this is classic Stones. It sounds like it's always this close to spinning out of control, but it never does. The rest of the side is pretty gentle musically, although it's dark lyrically. They even venture into country territory with "Moonlight Mile." It's a good side, but I would have liked one more big rocker.

The album ends up sounding like a template for seventies rock albums. Rough, bluesy, a little dirty, and full of a good mix of up, mid, and low tempo songs (although one or two more uptempo songs would not have hurt the album any), but all performed with a rough edge. Basically, the record is what you'd expect of a Rolling Stones album. Riff-filled blues-based rock and roll, often played with swaggering abandon. The Stones are best when they don't try to be more than they are. But when you are arguably the best rock and roll band in history, being what you are is a very good thing.

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