All That Glitters is Gold - Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers
This is All That Glitters is Gold, a recurring piece about some of my favorite artists, albums, tracks, and live shows. Here I will write about the music I love, most of which inspired me to start Alt Revue in the first place. I'm excited to highlight this music and talk about how it has impacted me. I hope you enjoy getting a glimpse into some of my favorites!
Among the most vitriolic musical debates of all time is The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones. For me, this isn't a contest, it's The Stones. That isn't to say that The Beatles aren't great or that they didn't make an impact, because they most certainly did; however, for me, The Rolling Stones are true to their self-proclaimed title of "The Greatest Rock and Roll Band of All Time." The band originally formed in 1962 and has been active since, seeing all sorts of challengers rise and fall in their wake. They have released 30 studio albums and 23 live albums in that time. They have toured the globe and played for millions of fans. While they may not be as quick as they were in their 20's, for a band of men in their 70's they will outplay damn near anyone on the face of the planet live both in terms of quality and in terms of energy.
Though they've released 30 albums, there is one that is my absolute favorite. Sticky Fingers, originally released in 1971, is unique for a number of reasons. First it was the first album by the band that featured no contributions from original member Brian Jones who had passed away in 1969. Brian Jones was an absolute legend and was unquestionably one of the most skilled musicians in music. Needless to say, this loss was enough to kill lesser bands. Armed with Mick Taylor, the band pressed on. The album was also the first album the group released on their own record label. Additionally, the cover art for the album was crafted by Andy Warhol and is still today one of the most iconic album covers of all time.
Sticky Fingers featured The Stones returning to their blues roots in a way. The album is packed to the brim with legendary tracks including: "Brown Sugar," "Sway," "Wild Horses," "Can't You Hear Me Knocking," and "Dead Flowers," just to name a few. Let's get this out first, "Brown Sugar" is a song that hasn't aged well. The song contains several references to slavery and lyrics that at best could be described as misogynistic. Mick Jagger and The Stones have acknowledged this and when the band performs the track live, Jagger changes the lyrics to make them less offensive. While some may not view this as a perfect solution, I think it's great that the band is willing to acknowledge the song's controversy and take steps to mitigate it.
"Sway" may not be the most popular song by The Rolling Stones, but it might be my favorite of all time. The fire behind Keith Richards guitar as he performs the intro comes out of nowhere and burns bright. Jagger's vocals match it and the harmonies performed are simply fantastic. The piano in the background is subtle, but it is so integral in the building of the music for this track as it brings such depth to it.
"Wild Horses" is among The Stones most popular tunes. The acoustic guitar in the track is so delicate and lays a great foundation for Jagger to build upon vocally. The verse is methodical in its pacing and the guitar and drums help build toward the chorus that drops like spring rain. The lead guitar in the track is lightly added, so delicately implemented that one might think it's not important. They'd be wrong, as there are portions toward the end of the track where it sounds like Jagger is having a conversation with the lead. While I'll never know what that conversation was about, it sure sounded cool as hell.
Speaking of cool as hell, (segue!) let's talking about the riff in "Can't You Hear Me Knocking". This is one of the most iconic riffs in the history of music. I'm talking up there with "Voodoo Child," it gets you that quickly. You know all about this song, it's got the fantastic horn section and incomparable guitar solo to end the track that takes you on a journey. It might be one of my favorite guitar solos.
If I don't have you already scrambling toward your record/streaming/CD/tape/8-track copy of Sticky Fingers to give it a listen or to your music provider to obtain a copy, then I don't know what to tell you. At least I tried. Just kidding, listen below and then tell me this is not a great album!