Album Review: Sticky Fingers [Deluxe Edition] by The Rolling Stones
Exceptionally Good, Based on 7 Critics
Pitchfork - 100 Based on rating 10/10
The story of the Baby Boomers, and their movement from adolescence to adulthood, has been documented and re-told endlessly. And few bands represent that story, and the move from the relative innocence of the mid-'60s into the hedonism and burnout of the '70s, better than the Rolling Stones. They started out as seemingly polite boys in jackets and ties and they grew and changed in front of the cameras and the microphones.
The Rolling Stones' first studio album of the Seventies was their sayonara to a messy 1969: Brian Jones' death; Altamont; guitarist Mick Taylor's partial entry on Let It Bleed. Recorded over more than a year and finally issued in April 1971, Sticky Fingers was an eclectic affirmation of maturing depth — the poise and polish before the titanic grunge of '72's Exile on Main Street. As writers, singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards rolled out a breadth of introspection (the swagger and warning in "Sway," the Asian-sunset tinge of "Moonlight Mile") while Taylor's searing tone was fully integrated into the treble tangle of "Bitch" and "Brown Sugar.
If “twilight of the gods” seems a fitting way to describe the current era in the six-decade history of the Rolling Stones, it certainly has been a long sunset, and one with no sign of ending. The three septuagenarians, Jagger, Richards, and Watts, plus 68-year-old Ron Wood, have just embarked on another North American tour, a year after a 14-city Asia Pacific outing that began in Abu Dhabi and wrapped up in New Zealand. Though the old wildness and unpredictability—will tonight’s show be brilliant or a chaotic mess?—are long gone, replaced by solid professionalism, the quartet, plus backup players and singers, still can rip it up on stage.
It’s almost certain that anybody who’s considering investing in one of the myriad of permutations of this reissue will need no introduction to the music contained within. The customer will be only too aware that Sticky Fingers saw the Stones entering an unrivalled period of pomp, at their most musically dextrous (Can’t Hear Me Knocking), rambunctious (Brown Sugar, Bitch) and most elegant and misty-eyed (Wild Horses, Moonlight Mile), all at the same time. It’s an all-killer-no-filler collection that sees the band benefiting from a bedded-in Mick Taylor’s influence and the colossal confidence that being a Stone in 1971 afforded them.
New York Daily News (Jim Faber) - 80 Based on rating 4/5
You can't get enough takes on a classic. Fresh proof arrives with an expanded run at “Sticky Fingers,” one of the Stones’ seminal works. The “Deluxe” version of this 1971 touchstone features strikingly different versions of five of the album’s 10 gems, along with just as many live pieces swiped from a concert cut back in the day. A “Super Deluxe” version piles on 13 more live recordings from ’71.
If 1972's Exile On Main Street is the Stones' makeshift masterpiece, its cohesive 1971 predecessor, Sticky Fingers, is their best album by a moonlight mile. This super-deluxe box details the birth of an iconic band/brand. Sessions for 69's Let It Bleed yielded material that spilled into Sticky Fingers and Exile, marking the first work without founder Brian Jones and with Mick Taylor, the most essential Stones guitarist besides Keith Richards.
[The Rolling Stones cobbled together Sticky Fingers from a variety of sources, snatching some Let It Bleed outtakes to pair with recordings made down in Muscle Shoals, Alabama along with tracks laid down in their homebase of Olympic Studios in London. Whatever songs the Stones didn't get around to finishing for Sticky Fingers, they carried over to Exile On Main St, either in its initial 1971 release or the 2010 deluxe reissue, which means there weren't any incomplete songs left for the 2015 Deluxe Reissue of Sticky Fingers. There were, however, a few pretty different alternate takes of the album's songs, all of which surface here: a wild, careening version of "Brown Sugar" featuring Eric Clapton on slide guitar—a faster, interesting take that's not as dirty and funky as the original; an "acoustic" version of "Wild Horses" that notably lacks the lead guitar lines; a "Can't You Hear Me Knocking," which is essentially a demo version where Mick hasn't figured out the words and the band doesn't launch into the Latin jam at the end; an "extended version" of "Bitch," where Mick again doesn't have words ready, although he has the melody in place; finally, a rougher, rowdier "Dead Flowers.