Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers 1970
When the Rolling Stones became "The Stones."
The Stones are now part of general pop culture, almost part of the air we breathe. It is 2023, and it is not uncommon to see teenage girls wearing tongue T-Shirts from Target. Little do they know what's behind it. How would you explain to them what this represents in music? Anybody interested in understanding why The Rolling Stones are who they are should listen to Sticky Fingers. Out of their 30 studio albums, I chose this one as one of the landmarks of their contribution to rock music.
As a teen, I would demonstrate my drawing skills by creating Stones tongues by memory with one line from beginning to end. These tongues would appear anywhere: my notebooks, jeans, backpack, etc. In retrospect, I am surprised I never got it tattooed. I am now glad I didn't get access to it. The Stones tongue was born with Sticky Fingers. This album moved the band into the 70s, an era in which they would no longer have to compete with the Beatles for UK's rock kingdom. In the arc of rock history, they are close to the top, but nothing trumps The Beatles.
The album marks the transition into Jagger and Richards' dominance as the first studio record after Brian Jones' death with Mick Taylor as second guitar.
Casual Stones fans would identify several songs, and "Brown Sugar" would never be missed in one of their concerts, but this, and other classics, were new one day. This album is tight from beginning to end, and songs like "Can't you hear me knocking" demonstrate how good the Stones were and why they deserve their place in history.
While this may seem insignificant, it tells us much about how musicians and artists seek inspiration. Part of this album was recorded at the legendary Muscle Shoals record studio in Alabama, where the Allman Brothers were studio musicians for hire. The story says they thought they'd show up, be inspired, and write great songs, but they spent a few days, and nothing came out. Out of frustration, Keith went into the bathroom and said he would come out when he had a song. This is how Brown Sugar was born.
Something that gives this album even more "oomph" is the fact that Andy Warhol designed the cover. The original print had an actual zipper, but they discontinued it because it damaged other records while displayed in stores. And no, the picture cover is not Mick Jagger.
I will return to the Stones again, but Sticky Fingers should give any reader enough to understand why we see the Stones' tongue in teenage girls' t-shirts.
Pics taken during my visit to Muscle Schoals