This is the He-man session I had originally planned for Thursday night but then got nixed thanks to a sick child. No big thang really as it now offers me an opportunity for a little hot me-on-me weekend action after this afternoon’s windy bike ride and some bonding time with the
boss, err wife, while cleaning out the garage.
My weights session this afternoon then is probably one of the most famous albums of all time, the infamous ‘Sticky Fingers‘ album by the Rolling Stones.
Besides the outline of (supposedly) Mick’s immense schlonger on the album cover (composed by Andy Warhol), there is lots to mention about this particular album. Truthfully, one could probably fill an entire book just on this album alone.
To begin with, it was released in 1971 on the band’s newly formed label, Rolling Stones Records, after having been contracted since 1963 with Decca Records in the UK and London Records in the US. It is also Mick Taylor’s first full-length appearance on a Rolling Stones album, the first Rolling Stones album not to feature any contributions from guitarist and founder Brian Jones and the first one on which singer Mick Jagger is credited with playing guitar.
My Bible (Mojo, August 1995), ranks it at #52.
Although sessions for ‘Sticky Fingers’ began in earnest in March 1970, The Rolling Stones had been recording at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama in December 1969. ‘Sister Morphine‘, cut during ‘Let It Bleed’s sessions earlier in March of that year, had been held over from this release. Much of the recording for the album was made with The Rolling Stones’ mobile studio unit in Stargroves during the summer and autumn of 1970. Early versions of songs that would eventually appear on ‘Exile on Main St’. were also rehearsed during these sessions.
In essence, it’s a weary, drug-laden album – well over half the songs explicitly mention drug use, while the others merely allude to it – that never fades away, but it barely keeps afloat. Apart from the classic opener, ‘Brown Sugar‘ (a gleeful tune about slavery, interracial sex, and lost virginity, not necessarily in that order), the long workout ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking‘ and the mean-spirited ‘Bitch‘, the album is a slow, bluesy affair, with a few country touches thrown in for good measure. The laid-back tone of the album gives ample room for new lead guitarist Mick Taylor to stretch out, particularly on the extended coda of ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking‘. But the key to the album isn’t the instrumental interplay – although that is terrific – it’s the utter weariness of the songs. ‘Wild Horses‘ is their first non-ironic stab at a country song, and it is a beautiful, heart-tugging masterpiece. Similarly, ‘I Got the Blues‘ is a ravished, late-night classic that ranks among their very best blues. ‘Sister Morphine‘ is a horrifying overdose tale, and ‘Moonlight Mile‘, with Paul Buckmaster’s grandiose strings, is a perfect closure: sad, yearning, drug-addled, and beautiful. With its offhand mixture of decadence, roots music, and outright malevolence, ‘Sticky Fingers‘ set the tone for the rest of the decade for the Stones.
Truthfully, as fun a listen it is and huge horse cock aside, this might not have been the most “manly” album to listen to for a heavy duty gym weights sessions. But, hey, not everything I listen to needs to suit a purpose today. Today, it just passed the time pleasantly. I mean, it’s the Rolling Stones, it’s bound to be awesome.
And it was.