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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I'm finally back...to talk about the Sticky Fingers reissue

I've been absolutely terrible about keeping up with this blog, but I'm back to get in at least one entry before the end of June.

So what's new?

Well, here goes.

If the Rolling Stones reissue an album, it's pretty much a guarantee that I won't be able to resist. And this is exactly what happened with the Sticky Fingers reissue.



Of the four killer albums that the Stones recorded and released between 1968 and 1972 (Beggars' Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile on Main St,), I'd say I rank Sticky Fingers fourth on that list. Really, I suppose it varies depending on my mood. In fact, ranking those four brilliant albums is really splitting hairs. They're all great.

I'm not much of a stereophile, so I honestly can't tell if the sound quality is that much better than the old CBS CD I have had in my collection since the 1980s, but the main reason for purchasing these reissues is the bonus tracks...and these bonus tracks are fun.

There is a folk rockish "Dead Flowers," with the Stones sounding more like the late '60s Byrds than the Rolling Stones. (Not that there is anything wrong with that).

A wonderfully ragged sounding "Bitch" with Jagger guide vocals. Lyrics not developed yet, but it's a fun recording.

And we also get a garage-y "Brown Sugar" with Eric Clapton on slide guitar. Apparently, Keith Richards considered substituting this version over the familiar Muscle Shoals recording. As enjoyable as this version is, I'm happy that never happened.

What's particularly great about these reissues is that they force me (us?) to listen to these albums again with fresh ears. I appreciate the sheer range of the Stones sound on Sticky Fingers more than I have before. The Stones have an underrated ability to master everything from blues ("You Got to Move"), Stax-ish soul ("I Got the Blues"), free form jazzy jams that would make Carlos Santana proud ("Can't Your Hear Me Knocking"), country shit-kickers ("Dead Flowers"), balls-to-the-wall rock ("Brown Sugar" and "Bitch"), Velvet Underground-ish psychodrama ("Sister Morphine"), string-laden epics ("Moonlight Mile"), and the spellbindingly gorgeous "Wild Horses" (written by Gram Parsons? This is a debate that may go on forever). Did I forget anything? Oh yeah, maybe my favorite song on the album, "Sway." I don't know how to categorize "Sway." I'll just say I've always liked Jagger's world-weary lyrics and delivery and the moment in which Mick Taylor is fully unleashed upon the world with his kick-ass guitar solo.

Maybe Sticky Fingers has now elevated in my critical estimation.

So I suppose the big question now is what's the next Stones album to get the big reissue treatment? Unfortunately, it won't be anything pre-Sticky Fingers since that stuff is all owned by Abkco (or whatever it's called these days) and it's safe to say they won't do anything with the older catalog. They brought out reissues in 2002 and I'd say, based on their "only the bare minimum" track record, they are done. (This is a real shame, because what Stones fan would NOT want a multi-disc reissue of Beggars' Banquet, Let It Bleed, Between the Buttons, or maybe even Aftermath?).

So we're looking at something post-1972. I don't think there is enough interest in Goat's Head Soup or It's Only Rock 'n' Roll for a reissue. Black and Blue--no, Some Girls has already been done, Emotional Rescue-definitely not.

The best candidate is probably Tattoo You. Despite being an album famously (or notoriously) composed of leftovers, Tattoo You is arguably the best album the Stones did after Some Girls, and I'm sure there are plenty of good live recordings in the can from that 1981/1982 tour for an enjoyable bonus disc. To top it off, 2016 marks the 35th anniversary of Tattoo You's release.

So save your pennies for that lavish Tattoo You reissue. You heard it here first. Mick and Keith, are you listening?