I’ve mentioned before that I’m a newcomer to the Stones’ fold. Of course I’ve always been aware of them and familiar with their music, but it wasn’t until I bought Hot Rocks 1964-1971 last November that I truly became a fan. Since then I’ve been slowly filling in the gaps in my Stones knowledge. I picked up Exile on Main Street from the library and when I saw that Sticky Fingers was getting a deluxe treatment I put it on my hold list. It finally came in last week.
I’m really glad I didn’t buy it. That’s not to say Sticky Fingers isn’t a great album. I enjoy it more than Exile. It’s definitely more concise, and for that reason feels more focused to me. But I’m not entirely sold on the bonus disc. Personally I couldn’t justify spending the extra money for it.
And if I’m going to buy a copy of Sticky Fingers it better come with the working zipper!
I’m guessing you’ve already heard Sticky Fingers so I don’t want to go on about the original album. I was already familiar with “Brown Sugar” and “Wild Horses” from Hot Rocks. I know it’s a little misogynistic (and probably racist), but “Brown Sugar” gets stuck in my head whenever the cute Mexican girl at work walks by and “Horses” makes me feel something. I’m not really sure what, but that tune is trying really hard to evoke emotions. “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” and “Bitch” are some new hard rocking favorites. I’m loving that riff on “Knocking.” I think it may be one of Keith’s best. I’m familiar with “Dead Flowers” from a punked up cover a local band did years ago. It’s a great country-twinged tune that doesn’t sound much like the Stones. I’m not a big fan of the slow “I Got The Blues,” but maybe as I get more familiar with it I’ll like it more.
When it comes to the bonus disc the thing that sticks out is that Keith Richards is horrible at backing vocals! I love the acoustic version of “Wild Horses” not so much for the stripping away of the leads, but more because Jagger’s voice sounds so great solo. And the version of “Brown Sugar” with Eric Clapton suffers not so much from his lackluster slide performance, but from a mix that raises Richards’ voice.
Alternate takes of “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” (a much shorter one), “Bitch” and “Dead Flowers” are also on the disc. I’d have to say the band made the right choice when choosing which versions to put on the album, but it is neat to hear some outtakes. “Flowers” is the most different (and interesting).
The bonus disc is rounded out with 5 live songs “at the Roundhouse, 1971.” I can’t say I’m blown away by these. I’m guessing someone more familiar with the material would like them more, but to me they’re just so-so. Perhaps I’ll revisit them someday and hear them differently. The only one I’m really familiar with is “Honky Tonk Women,” another song that suffers from too much Keith Richard singing.
The worst part of the deluxe version is the complete lack of liner notes. Perhaps this was just my library copy, but all I got was a photo booklet. They were neat photos, but I’d like to read some stories and/or insights from the band and/or those involved in the recording.
Sticky Fingers gets a 4/5 stars, but the Deluxe Edition gets a not worth the money/5 stars.