Saturday, April 13, 2024

The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers

After writing last week’s RAMZine Classic article on Black Sabbath, it only seemed natural to follow the band who influenced all of metal to the band who influenced them. I am of course talking about The Rolling Stones, one of the most commercially successful and indeed one of the best rock and roll bands of all time.

With a sound built upon the instinctive guitar of Keith Richards and the signature swagger of Sir Mick Jagger, the Stones had a formula for success from right early on in their career. However, it was 1971 when they released one of their best albums, which is right the subject of this week’s RAMZine Classic: Sticky Fingers.

The album opens with one of the most loved rock and roll tracks of all time, the incomparable “Brown Sugar”. Keith Richard’s iconic guitar riff keeps the song rolling along and the cracking vocal line from Jagger is just classic Stones. The attitude exuding from the song really shows why there were such a breath of fresh air at the time, with some people referring to them as the harder alternative to The Beatles.

Next up is “Sway”, a song which is led by the Stones’ iconic drummer Charlie Watts. Watts’ style has often been described as a jazz drummer in a rock and roll band, yet here it fits beautifully with his natural feel for the groove and what is needed for the song coming to the fore. His solid groundwork allows the piano melody and the vocals to flow over the top in a fantastic way. A real highlight of the album.

Following this is the utterly beautiful “Wild Horses”. This really shows the other side of the Stones, the side which adores melody and the purity of music. Jagger may not have the best classical singing voice, yet the raw emotion which springs from the speakers during this song really shows his worth as a singer. The smooth guitars and drums in this song really lay a perfect platform for the vocals and produce a stunning piece of music.

Up next is “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin'”, my personal favourite track on the album. The heavy funk groove in this song and mix of clean and distorted guitars create a great rock and roll effect. The head-nodding groove of this song really laid the groundwork for some of the heavier bands such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin to really kick on and create something louder. The influence this song carries is also due to the fact that the chorus melody really goes along with the guitar part, a technique mimicked by bands the world over. This song is as inspirational as it is utterly brilliant.

Next is “You Gotta Move”, probably one of the most bluesy songs in history. The swinging guitar here drives the song along and Jagger’s spiky vocal style really cuts through. The lead guitar line over the top of the rhythm flows perfectly and allows this incredibly versatile band to express a style of music which had such a great influence on them.

Following on from this is “Bitch”, an up-tempo rhythm-and-blues number. This song is filled with soul and rock, and really shows an argument for the Stones being classed as an early fusion band. The chorus is pure rock and roll, and a classic example of this band. The horn section adds extra colour here and is a fantastic addition.

Up next is “I Got The Blues”, a song based around a fantastically soulful guitar line and wailing vocals from Jagger. Again, the horns add extra emphasis and provide hope to the despairing vocals of the song. Emotion pours out of the song and again, the versatility of this utterly great band is on show. A fantastic surprise highlight.

Next is “Sister Morphine”, a song co-written by Marianne Faithful. This haunting acoustic-led song is a stunning highlight of the album and recounts many of the bands’ brushes with drugs and alcohol. The lyrical themes of vulnerability and weakness are wonderfully put across and Richards’ lead guitar line is utterly wonderful, expressing the theme of the song through music better than anything.

Following this is “Dead Flowers”, a true old fashioned country song. The piano and vocals really sound like they’ve come straight out of the deep south of America. The sound created is stunning and the layer of different melodies work perfectly. Never has a country song been more melodic or fantastic.

Closing the album is “Moonlight Mile”, an utterly wonderful album closer. The layered guitar sounds epic, yet quiet and vulnerable. It is quite an astounding effect. The vocal melody conjures up a dark misty night, and along with the cymbal swells, it is a fantastic mental image created. The sheer epic feel of this song is just great and the chorus groove sets the tone perfectly. The perfect end to one of the most perfect albums of all time.

In closing, this album encompasses pretty much every genre of music you could think of in the 1970s. The versatility, musicianship and sheer influence on this album is evident in every note and I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you like your music classic, varied and utterly genius, then this is the album for you.

FOR FANS OF: Blue Oyster Cult, The Doors, The Kinks

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