It was 51 years ago Sunday (May 22nd, 1971) that the Rolling Stones‘ Sticky Fingers hit Number One in America. The album marked the band’s first new music of the 1970’s — as well as the first full collection to feature the late-Brian Jones’ replacement, guitarist Mick Taylor.
Sticky Fingers, which featured tracks culled from as far back as 1968, topped the charts for four straight weeks, spending a total of 15 weeks in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 albums chart.
The set opened with the band’s first chart-topper of the 1970’s — “Brown Sugar” — followed by “Sway,’ “Wild Horses,” “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” “You Gotta Move,” “Bitch,” “I Got The Blues,” “Sister Morphine,” “Dead Flowers,” and “Moonlight Mile.”
Fans that caught the Rolling Stones’ 1969 North American trek got a surprise taste of a couple of Sticky Fingers tracks. The band’s acoustic take of Mississippi Fred McDowell‘s “You Gotta Move” got an airing every night of the tour, with “Brown Sugar” receiving its live premiere on December 6th, 1969 at the Stones’ infamous free concert at Northern, California’s Altamont Freeway, where a concert-goer was murdered by a member of the Hells Angels.
Keith Richards told us that he views the band’s recording career as an ongoing mission as opposed to their contemporaries who recorded specific projects every year: “Albums, what you get when you say, ‘Oh, that’s that album,’ a lot of albums they, like, roll over into the next one. Some of the stuff that you do, and say Sticky Fingers, towards the end, you’ve got more stuff than you can use; ‘Well, we’ll just save it.’ So you kind of roll over material that way, and the album becomes what gets on there. But to us, the process is like, continual. ‘Let’s use these 12 songs, and what do we call it? I know — Beggars Banquet. I know — Let It Bleed. I know — Exile On Main Street.’ So, you kinda take snippets of something that’s going on all the time.”
Mick Jagger looked back fondly on the Stones’ lifestyle at the end of the 1960’s: “We had a pretty, I mean, sedate lifestyle — (laughs) it not really the way. . . It wasn’t sedate, but it was pretty centered, and it was pretty grounded in its own way. Geographically it was very grounded and we were all very kind of English in our ways. So we had to come to this crunch period where this kind of lifestyle, that we’d created for ourselves, which was really pleasant, had to come to an end — including being in these kind of houses, or for me anyway living in them anyway for long periods of time and working.”
In 2015 the Stones released a deluxe, expanded version of Sticky Fingers, featuring the remastered original album and a bonus CD including previously unreleased alternate takes and 1971 live performances from Leeds University and London’s Roundhouse.
Also out now is the archival release — From The Vault: Sticky Fingers: Live At The Fonda Theatre 2015. The collection features the band’s entire 16-song setlist. The informal performance, which includes all 10 of the Sticky Fingers tracks, albeit in a different running order than the original album, was recorded live on May 20th, 2015 at L.A.’s 1,200 capacity Fonda Theatre just prior to their “Zip Code Tour” kickoff.