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RMR 01-14-2012 06:21 AM

The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers- 1971
The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers- 1971
RMR Album Rating- 10

Everything The Rolling Stones did on 1968’s “Beggars Banquet” and 1969’s “Let It Bleed” to create their signature sleaze rock sound came to a perfect climax on their 1971 release “Sticky Fingers.”

Let’s get right into it, and take a look at the album’s opener “Brown Sugar.” The Stones had played around with sexual sleaze rock themes on “Beggar’s Banquet” with songs like “Cat Scratch Blues,” and they took it one step further on “Let It Bleed” with songs like “Country Honk,” “Live with Me,” and “Let it Bleed,” but “Brown Sugar” takes their sexual themed sleaze rock to the edge. There are no holds barred on “Brown Sugar” in terms of sexual suggestiveness. Is there anyone who doesn’t know what this song is about? Take a look at the lyrics below. It’s amazing that these didn’t create more turmoil in 1971 when the song came out.
“Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields/ Sold in a market down in New Orleans/ Scarred old slaver knows he’s doing alright/ Hear him with the women just around midnight/ Brown sugar/ how come you taste so good?/ Brown sugar/ just like a young girl should…/ Ah, get along, brown sugar/ how come you taste so good, baby?/ Ah, got me feelin’ now/ brown sugar/ just like a black girl should."
It’s also important to point out their lyrical content shifted somewhat on “Sticky Fingers.” There are still plenty of overtly sexual themes laced throughout the album, but they also add several songs about drugs, but in most cases like on “Dead Flowers” and Moonlight Mile” the references are subtle. “Sister Morphine,” the album’s closer, would be the exception to subtle suggestiveness, as it is clearly about drugs. But even with these overtly sexual and drug inspired lyrics, The Stones still somehow pull them off in a mostly non-offensive way. This was the genius of The Rolling Stones. They could basically sing about anything they wanted, and it just seemed normal. So after three albums of great sleaze rock music and lyrics, one thing is for sure: no one doubted that The Rolling Stones were the quintessential rebels of rock.

Musically, this album follows the same pattern and style as “Beggars Banquet” and “Let it Bleed.” The sound is still a combination of classic country, riff rock, bar rock, blues, and most importantly sleaze rock, but the difference with “Sticky Fingers” compared to the previous two albums is that The Rolling Stones were now aware that this was their style and sound. They created it, so they could really capitalize on it. There’s also more diversity on this album than on their previous two albums— most notably in form of ballads, of which we get three here: “I got the blues,” which is a bluesy ballad, “Moonlight Mile,” which is packed with emotional resonance, and “Wild Horses,” which is their signature ballad. Along with “Wild Horses” as a signature song, “Sticky Fingers” is packed with other signature songs as well.

Now that The Rolling Stones have been around for almost 50-years, they have a truckload of signature songs (songs that everyone knows as classic rock staples), and many of these songs came from “Beggars Banquet,” “Let It Bleed,” and “Sticky Fingers,” and on “Sticky Fingers,” 5 out of the 10 songs are what I consider signature songs. That’s not to say that the other songs aren’t excellent as well, but “Brown Sugar,” “Wild Horses,” “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” “Dead Flowers,” and “Moonlight Mile” are absolutely classics, and they are songs that most classic rock fans know front to back. I’ll also mention “Sway” and “Bitch.” They certainly get overshadowed by the aforementioned signature songs, but they’re almost just as good. My personal favorite song on the album is “Dead Flowers,” and to me, it has all the great elements of “Beggars Banquet,” “Let it Bleed,” and “Sticky Fingers” all put into one package.

I’ll close by saying that before each review, I re-listen to each album several times and I have usually owned the album for several years. So, after writing each review, I’m normally ready to shelve the album for a while out of over saturation, but with “Sticky Fingers,” I want to just keep playing it. It is just that good, and it is one of the greatest classic rock albums of all time. I’ll also mention that The Stones change gears slightly on their next release “Exile on Main Street” and move slightly away from the sleaze rock genre that they created, but the genre would be picked up again by Aerosmith on their early albums, and then again in the 80’s by Guns N’ Roses on their first album “Appetite for Destruction.” Obviously, Aerosmith’s and Guns’ version of sleaze rock is much heavier than The Stones’ version of sleaze rock, but The Rolling Stones undoubtedly created the genre, and “Sticky Fingers” is undoubtedly my favorite Stones’ sleaze rock record.

Howard the Duck 01-18-2012 12:15 AM

golly gee! the holy triumvirate

i don't like Exile much but Goat's Head Soup is just fine and dandy

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