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Sticky Fingers

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Sticky Fingers

Sticky Fingers
Studio album by The Rolling Stones
Released 23 April 1971
Recorded 2–4 December 1969, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Sheffield, Alabama; 17 February, March – May, 16 June–27 July, 17–31 October 1970, and January 1971, Olympic Studios, Trident Studios, London, UK; except "Sister Morphine", begun 22–31 March 1969, continued May–June 1969
Genre Hard rock[1]
Length 46:25
Language English
Label Rolling Stones
Producer Jimmy Miller
The Rolling Stones chronology
Let It Bleed
Sticky Fingers
Exile on Main St.
Spanish 1971 cover
Singles from Sticky Fingers
  1. "Brown Sugar" / "Bitch"
    Released: 16 April 1971
  2. "Wild Horses" / "Sway"
    Released: 12 June 1971

Sticky Fingers is the ninth British and eleventh American studio album by the English rock band The Rolling Stones, released in April 1971. It is the band's first album of the 1970s and its first release on the band's newly formed label, Rolling Stones Records, after having been contracted since 1963 with Decca Records in the UK and London Records in the US. It is also Mick Taylor's first full-length appearance on a Rolling Stones album, the first Rolling Stones album not to feature any contributions from guitarist and founder Brian Jones and the first one on which singer Mick Jagger is credited with playing guitar.

Sticky Fingers is widely regarded as one of the Rolling Stones' best albums. It achieved triple platinum certification in the US and contains songs such as the chart-topping "Brown Sugar", the country ballad[2][3] "Wild Horses", "Can't You Hear Me Knocking", and the sweeping ballad "Moonlight Mile".


  • History 1
    • Recording 1.1
  • Artwork 2
    • Standard version 2.1
    • Alternative version and covers 2.2
  • Release and reception 3
  • Track listing 4
  • Personnel 5
  • Charts 6
    • Peak positions 6.1
    • Year-end charts 6.2
    • Certifications 6.3
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10


With the end of their Decca/London association at hand, The Rolling Stones were finally free to release their albums (cover art and all) as they pleased. However, their departing manager Allen Klein dealt the group a major blow when they discovered that they had inadvertently signed over their entire 1960s copyrights to Klein and his company ABKCO, which is how all of their material from 1963's "Come On" to Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert has since been released solely by ABKCO Records. The band would remain incensed with Klein for decades for that act.

When Decca informed The Rolling Stones that they were owed one more single, they cheekily submitted a track called "Cocksucker Blues",[4] which was guaranteed to be refused. Instead, Decca released the two-year-old Beggars Banquet track "Street Fighting Man" while Klein retained dual copyright ownership in conjunction with The Rolling Stones of "Brown Sugar" and "Wild Horses".


Although sessions for Sticky Fingers began in earnest in March 1970, The Rolling Stones had been recording at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama in December 1969. "Sister Morphine", cut during Let It Bleed's sessions earlier in March of that year, had been held over from this release. Much of the recording for Sticky Fingers was made with The Rolling Stones' mobile studio unit in Stargroves during the summer and autumn of 1970. Early versions of songs that would eventually appear on Exile on Main St. were also rehearsed during these sessions.[5]


Standard version

The Rolling Stones posing in an ad with the artwork from Sticky Fingers in 1971, from left to right: Charlie Watts, Mick Taylor, Bill Wyman, Keith Richards, and Mick Jagger

The album's artwork emphasises the suggestive innuendo of the Sticky Fingers title, showing a close-up of a jeans-clad male crotch with the visible outline of a large penis; the cover of the original (vinyl) release featured a working zipper and mock belt buckle that opened to reveal cotton briefs. The vinyl release displayed the band's name and album title along the image of the belt; behind the zipper the white briefs were seemingly rubber stamped in gold with the name of American pop artist Andy Warhol, below which read "THIS PHOTOGRAPH MAY NOT BE—ETC."[6] While the artwork was conceived by Warhol, photography was by Billy Name and design was by Craig Braun. Braun and his team had other ideas, such as wrapping the album in rolling paper - a concept later used by Cheech & Chong in Big Bambu - but Jagger was enthused by Warhol's cover with a zipper. Execution was then handled as Warhol sent Braun Polaroid pictures of a model in tight jeans.[7]

The cover photo of a male model's crotch clad in tight blue jeans was assumed by many fans to be an image of Mick Jagger, but the people actually involved at the time of the photo shoot claim that Warhol had several different men photographed (Jagger was not among them) and never revealed which shots he used. Among the candidates, Jed Johnson, Warhol's lover at the time, denied it was his likeness, although his twin brother Jay is a possibility. Those closest to the shoot, and subsequent design, name Factory artist and designer Corey Tippin as the likeliest candidate. Warhol "superstar" Joe Dallesandro claims to have been the model.[8]

After retailers complained that the zipper was causing damage to the vinyl (from stacked shipments of the record), the zipper was "unzipped" slightly to the middle of the record, where damage would be minimised.[7]

The album features the first usage of the band's "tongue & lips" logo, which was originally designed by John Pasche in 1970. Jagger suggested to Pasche that he copy the outstuck tongue of the Hindu goddess Kali, and while Pasche first felt it would date the image back to the Indian culture craze of the 1960s, seeing Kali made him change his mind. Before the end of that year his basic version was faxed to Craig Braun by Marshall Chess. The black & white copy was then modified by Braun and his team, resulting in today's most popular red version, the slim one with the two white stripes on the tongue.[7]

In 2003, the TV network VH1 named Sticky Fingers the "No. 1 Greatest Album Cover" of all time.

Alternative version and covers

In Spain, the original cover was censored and replaced with a "Can of fingers" cover, designed by John Pasche and Phil Jude,[9] and "Sister Morphine" was replaced by a live version of Chuck Berry's "Let It Rock". This version was released on the compilation album Rarities 1971–2003 in 2005.

In 1992, the LP release of the album in Russia featured a similar treatment as the original cover; but with Cyrillic lettering for the band name and album name, a colourised photograph of blue jeans with a zipper, and a Soviet Army uniform belt buckle that shows a hammer and sickle inscribed in a star. The model appears to be female.[10]

Release and reception

Professional ratings
Retrospective reviews
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [11]
Christgau's Record Guide A[12]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music [13]
MusicHound 4.5/5[13]
NME 9/10[14]
Pitchfork Media 10/10[15]
Q [16]
Record Collector [16]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide [17]
Uncut [18]

Sticky Fingers hit the number one spot on the British charts in May 1971, remaining there for four weeks before returning at number one for a further week in mid June. In the US, the album hit number one within days of release, and stayed there for four weeks. In Germany it was one of only two non-German albums to reach number one in 1971.

In a contemporary review for the Los Angeles Times, music critic Robert Hilburn said that although Sticky Fingers is one of the best rock albums of the year, it is only "modest" by the Rolling Stones' standards and succeeds on the strength of songs such as "Bitch" and "Dead Flowers", which recall the band's previously uninhibited, furious style.[19] Jon Landau, writing in Rolling Stone, felt that it lacks the spirit and spontaneity of the Rolling Stones' previous two albums and, apart from "Moonlight Mile", is full of "forced attempts at style and control" in which the band sounds disinterested, particularly on formally correct songs such as "Brown Sugar".[20] In a positive review, Lynn Van Matre of the Chicago Tribune viewed the album as the band "at their raunchy best" and wrote that, although it is "hardly innovative", it is consistent enough to be one of the year's best albums.[21]

Sticky Fingers was voted the second best album of the year in The Village Voice‍ '​s annual Pazz & Jop critics poll for 1971.[22] Lester Bangs voted it number one in the poll and said that it was his most played album of the year.[23] Robert Christgau, the poll's creator, ranked the album 17th on his own year-end list.[24] In a 1975 article for The Village Voice, Christgau suggested that the release was "triffling with decadence", but might be the Rolling Stones' best album, approached only by Exile on Main St. (1972).[25] In his 1980 review of the album, he wrote that it reflected how unapologetic the band was after the Altamont Free Concert and that, despite the concession to sincerity with "Wild Horses", songs such as "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" and "I Got the Blues" are as "soulful" as "Good Times", and their cover of "You Gotta Move" is on-par with their previous covers of "Prodigal Son" and "Love in Vain".[12]

In 1994, Sticky Fingers was ranked number ten in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums. He stated, "Dirty rock like this has still to be bettered, and there is still no rival in sight."[26] In a retrospective review, Q magazine said that the album was "the Stones at their assured, showboating peak ... A magic formula of heavy soul, junkie blues and macho rock".[16] NME wrote that it "captures the Stones bluesy swagger" in a "dark-land where few dare to tread".[14] Record Collector magazine said that it showcases Jagger and Richards as they "delve even further back to the primitive blues that first inspired them and step up their investigations into another great American form, country."[16] In his review for Goldmine magazine, Dave Thompson wrote that the album still is superior to "most of The Rolling Stones’ catalog".[27] In 2003, Sticky Fingers was listed as No. 63 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[28]

In 1994, Sticky Fingers was remastered and reissued by Virgin Records. It was remastered again in 2009 by Universal Music Enterprises and in 2011 by Universal Music Enterprises in a Japanese-only SHM-SACD version.

In June 2015, the Rolling Stones reissued Sticky Fingers (in its 2009 remastering) in a variety of formats to coincide with a new concert tour, the Zip Code Tour. The Deluxe and Super Deluxe versions of the reissue featured previously unreleased bonus material (depending on the format): alternative takes of some songs, live tracks recorded on 14 March 1971 at the Roundhouse, London, and the complete 13 March 1971 show at Leeds University. It re-entered the UK Albums chart at #7, extending their UK Top 10 album chart span beyond 51 years and 2 months since their self-titled debuted at #7 on April 23, 1964.[29][30][31][32] It also re-entered the US Albums chart at #5, extending their US Top 10 album chart span beyond 50 years and 6 months since 12 x 5 on December 14, 1964.[29][30][31][32]

Track listing

All songs written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Brown Sugar"   3:48
2. "Sway"   3:50
3. "Wild Horses"   5:42
4. "Can't You Hear Me Knocking"   7:14
5. "You Gotta Move" (Fred McDowell/Gary Davis) 2:32
Side two
No. Title Length
6. "Bitch"   3:38
7. "I Got the Blues"   3:54
8. "Sister Morphine" (Jagger/Richards/Marianne Faithfull) 5:31
9. "Dead Flowers"   4:03
10. "Moonlight Mile"   5:56

2015 Deluxe edition bonus disc:

No. Title Length
1. "Brown Sugar" (Alternate Version with Eric Clapton) 4:07
2. "Wild Horses" (Acoustic version) 5:47
3. "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" (Alternate version) 3:24
4. "Bitch" (Extended version) 5:53
5. "Dead Flowers" (Alternate version) 4:18
6. "Live With Me" (Live at the Roundhouse, 1971) 4:22
7. "Stray Cat Blues" (Live at the Roundhouse, 1971) 3:38
8. "Love in Vain" (Live at the Roundhouse, 1971) 6:42
9. "Midnight Rambler" (Live at the Roundhouse, 1971) 11:27
10. "Honky Tonk Women" (Live at the Roundhouse, 1971) 4:14

2015 Super Deluxe edition bonus disc (Live at Leeds University, 1971):

No. Title Length
1. "Jumpin' Jack Flash" (Live at Leeds University, 1971) 3:42
2. "Live With Me" (Live at Leeds University, 1971) 3:33
3. "Dead Flowers" (Live at Leeds University, 1971) 4:03
4. "Stray Cat Blues" (Live at Leeds University, 1971) 4:37
5. "Love In Vain" (Live at Leeds University, 1971) 4:19
6. "Midnight Rambler" (Live at Leeds University, 1971) 9:15
7. "Bitch" (Live at Leeds University, 1971) 5:53
8. "Honky Tonk Women" (Live at Leeds University, 1971) 3:02
9. "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (Live at Leeds University, 1971) 3:44
10. "Little Queenie" (Live at Leeds University, 1971) 4:26
11. "Brown Sugar" (Live at Leeds University, 1971) 3:48
12. "Street Fighting Man" (Live at Leeds University, 1971) 3:15
13. "Let It Rock" (Live at Leeds University, 1971) 3:14


The Rolling Stones
  • Mick Jagger – lead vocals; percussion on "Brown Sugar"; rhythm guitar on "Sway"; acoustic guitar on "Dead Flowers" and "Moonlight Mile"
  • Keith Richards – rhythm guitar, backing vocals; acoustic guitar on "Brown Sugar", "You Gotta Move", "I Got the Blues" and "Sister Morphine"; twelve string acoustic guitar on "Wild Horses"; lead guitar on "Wild Horses", the first part of "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" and "Bitch"; co-lead guitar on "Dead Flowers"
  • Mick Taylor – lead guitar; acoustic guitar on "Wild Horses"; rhythm guitar on the first part of "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" and "Bitch"; slide guitar on "Sway" and "You Gotta Move"; lead guitar on "Dead Flowers" , the second part of "Can't You Hear Me Knocking", "Moonlight Mile", and "Sway" (not present during "Sister Morphine" sessions)
  • Bill Wyman – bass guitar; electric piano on "You Gotta Move"
  • Charlie Watts – drums
Additional personnel


See also


  1. ^ Gilman, William (July 1971). "The Pick".  
  2. ^ Elliot, Martin (2002). The Rolling Stones: Complete Recording Sessions 1962 – 2002. Cherry Red Books LTD. pp. 163–164.  
  3. ^ Wyman, Bill (2002). Rolling with the Stones. Dorling Kindersley Limited. p. 349.  
  4. ^ Sanchez, Tony (1996). Up and Down with the Rolling Stones, p. 195. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80711-4.
  5. ^ Greenfield, Robert (2006). Exile on Main Street: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones, pp. 95–96. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-81433-1.
  6. ^ "Images for Rolling Stones, The - Sticky Fingers". Retrieved 2015-06-10. 
  7. ^ a b c "Art of The Rolling Stones: Behind that zipper and that tongue". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-06-11. 
  8. ^ "Album Cover Joe". Retrieved 12 May 2013. 
  9. ^ "Rare Spanish version of Sticky Fingers to be reissued on vinyl". Retrieved 2015-06-19. 
  10. ^ "Dust & Grooves – Adventures in Record Collecting. A book about vinyl records collectors » DB Burkeman – Brooklyn, NY". Retrieved 2015-06-10. 
  11. ^  
  12. ^ a b  
  13. ^ a b "Sticky Fingers".  
  14. ^ a b "Review: Sticky Fingers".  
  15. ^ "The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers".  
  16. ^ a b c d "Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers CD Album".  
  17. ^ Moon, Tom (2004). "The Rolling Stones". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian.  
  18. ^ Cavanagh, David. "Album Reviews: The Rolling Stones Reissues".  
  19. ^   (subscription required)
  20. ^  
  21. ^ Van Matre, Lynn (30 April 1971). Stones' at their raunchy best"'".   (subscription required)
  22. ^ "The 1971 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll".  
  23. ^ Christgau, Robert (17 February 1972). "Pazz & Jop Critics Poll: What Does It All Mean?". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
  24. ^ Christgau, Robert (10 February 1972). "Pazz & Jop 1971: Dean's List". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
  25. ^ "It Isn't Only Rock and Roll". The Village Voice (New York). 30 June 1975. Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
  26. ^  
  27. ^  
  28. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone (New York): 113. 11 December 2003. 
  29. ^ a b "The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers lives again!". 31 March 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  30. ^ a b "Sticky Fingers Rerelease: Out 8/9 June". 9 April 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  31. ^ a b "The Rolling Stones are rereleasing their classic 1971 album Sticky Fingers, along with previously unreleased material and alternative re-workings of beloved album tracks.". April 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  32. ^ a b "The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers". April 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2015. 
  33. ^ a b  
  34. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 15, No. 17".  
  35. ^ "Sticky Fingers" The Rolling Stones – (ASP). Hung Medien (in Dutch).  
  36. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (in French). Retrieved 1 June 2013. Note: user must select 'The Rolling Stones' from drop-down.
  37. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1971" (in Italian). Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  38. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970-2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006.  
  39. ^ "Sticky Fingers" The Rolling Stones – (ASP). Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  40. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE.  
  41. ^ "Swedish Charts 1969–1972 / Kvällstoppen – Listresultaten vecka för vecka > Maj 1971 > 18 Maj" (PDF). (in Swedish). Retrieved 13 February 2014. Note: Kvällstoppen combined sales for albums and singles in the one chart; Sticky Fingers peaked at the number-two on the list, behind "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" by Middle of the Road.
  42. ^ "The Rolling Stones > Artists > Official Charts".  
  43. ^ a b c : Charts & Awards : Billboard Albums"Sticky Fingers"Allmusic: . Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  44. ^ "Sticky Fingers"Album Search: The Rolling Stones – (ASP) (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 
  45. ^ "The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers". Argentinian Albums. CAPIF. On Fecha, select } to see the correspondent chart. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
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  47. ^ "The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  48. ^ "The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  49. ^ "Czech Albums – Top 100". ČNS IFPI. Note: On the chart page, select } on the field besides the word "Zobrazit", and then click over the word to retrieve the correct chart data. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  50. ^ "InfoDisc : Classement officiel des ventes d'albums en France" (in French). Retrieved 15 June 2015. 
  51. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Phononet GmbH. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
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  57. ^ "The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers". Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  58. ^ "Oricon Top 50 Albums: }" (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  59. ^ "The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers". Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  60. ^ "South Korea Gaon Album Chart". On the page, select "}" to obtain the corresponding chart. Gaon Chart Retrieved 12 June 2015.
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  62. ^ "The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers". Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  63. ^ "The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers". Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  64. ^ "The Rolling Stones | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  65. ^ "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1971" (ASP) (in Dutch). Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  66. ^ "Les Albums (CD) de 1971 par InfoDisc" (PHP) (in French). Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  67. ^ "The Official UK Charts Company : ALBUM CHART HISTORY". Archived from the original on 13 August 2010. Retrieved 17 December 2007. 
  68. ^ 1971 Year-end Albums – The Billboard Pop Albums. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  69. ^ Ryan, Gavin (July 11, 2015). "ARIA Albums: John Farnham And Olivia Newton-John Have No 1 Album For 2nd Week". Noise11. Retrieved July 11, 2015. 
  70. ^ "French album certifications – The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved 1 June 2012.  Select THE ROLLING STONES and click OK
  71. ^ "Les Albums Or".  
  72. ^ "British album certifications – The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers".   Enter Sticky Fingers in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
  73. ^ "American album certifications – The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers".   If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

Further reading

  • Warwick, Neil; Jon Kutner; Tony Brown (2004). The Complete Book of the British Charts: Singles and Albums.  

External links

  • Sticky Fingers at Discogs (list of releases)
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