by David Chiu
The period from 1968 to 1972 is perhaps the greatest in the long-history of the Rolling Stones on a creative level that saw the release of undisputed classics such as Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main St. Sticky Fingers from 1971, which has now been reissued on a variety of formats, is a triumph and a continuation of the group’s blues-influenced rock and world-weary poignant ballads. The album is best known for two of the band’s most beloved songs: the rollicking “Brown Sugar” (with that signature guitar riff at the beginning of the song) and the beautiful and fragile “Wild Horses” – but the rest of the album tracks isn’t exactly filler by a long-shot: the hard-funk of “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” the swaggering urgency of “Bitch,” the gorgeous melancholy of “Sway,” and the haunting “Sister Morphine” are classics in their own right. Forty-four years later Sticky Fingers remains a great and beloved Stones album the reissue offers another opportunity to explore that fascinating era of the band’s history: in the addition to the original album, the deluxe edition features several previously unreleased tracks, including a performance of “Brown Sugar” with Eric Clapton, which is an eye and ear-opening revelation – one could certainly hear Slowhand’s trademark guitar on that track; as well as alternate versions of “Wild Horses,” and “Dead Flowers” along with a lengthier take of “Bitch.” On the same disc are fiery live performances at the Roundhouse in 1971 that could be considered Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! redux: with tracks like a smoking “Midnight Rambler,” “Live With Me, “ “Love in Vain,” and “Honky Tonk Women.” The super deluxe edition of Sticky Fingers features all of the above along with a another disc of live stuff from Leeds University also from 1971 featuring some of the songs from the then-new album. Whatever format –with or without the frills – turns you on, the bottom line is that Sticky Fingers is an essential part of any rock fan’s library.