March 22-31, 1969: Olympic Sound Studios, London, England
December 2-4, 1969: Muscle Shoals Studios, Florence, Alabama, USA
December 8-18, 1969: Olympic Sound Studios, London, England
February 17, 1970: Olympic Sound Studios, London, England
March-May 1970: Rolling Stones Mobile Unit, Mick Jagger's home Stargroves, Newbury, England;
Olympic Sound Studios, London, England
June 16-July 27, 1970: Olympic Sound Studios, London, England
October 17-31, 1970: Rolling Stones Mobile Unit, Mick Jagger's home Stargroves, Newbury, England;
Olympic Sound Studios, London, England
December 1970: Olympic Sound Studios, London, England
January 1971: various studios, London, England
Chief engineers: Glyn Johns, Andy Johns & Jimmy Johnson
Released: April 1971
Original label: Rolling Stones Records (on WEA)
Contributing musicians: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Mick Taylor, Nicky Hopkins, Billy Preston, Ian Stewart, Bobby Keys, Jim Price, Jim Dickinson, Jimmy Miller, Rocky Dijon, Jack Nitzsche, Ry Cooder, Paul Buckmaster (arranger), Pete Townshend, Ronnie Lane, Billy Nicholls.
Can't You Hear Me Knocking
You Gotta Move
I Got the Blues
Sticky Fingers was never meant to be the title. It's just what we called it while we were working on it. Usually though, the working titles stick.
I just asked Andy, who I was friends with, if he would be interested in doing a cover. The cover's got nothing to do with the title. He came up with the idea of having a real zip on a pair of jeans and got the nice fold-out sleeve with the inside underwear. It had all kinds of production problems 'cause putting a zip on a piece of cardboard is tricky. And the record would get ruined because when you had piles of them, the weight pressed the zip down and ruined the vinyl. It was controversial at the time. It was by a well-known artists with a 3D tactile element, and it's vaguely homoerotic. But if you think about it, it's not that sexual. It's sexual, but it's not shocking. It's a good piece of art, rater than just being controversial for the sake of it.
(The photo i)s of Andy (Warhol)'s... protégé is the polite word we used to use, I think.
Well, I mean, stretched out, the songs, one could say it stretched over two years, you know, because Sister Morphine comes from '68, although we cut it in early '69. Some songs were written awhile ago... (Stones albums have) usually taken longer and longer. Which pisses me off. Because everybody's laid back a little more and everybody has other things, they do other things now, whereas when it was just a matter of being on the road and recording, that's all you did, you know, and that was it. And obviously you could do things much quicker that way.
We recorded three tracks in Muscle Shoals (Alabama), three in Olympic, three in my house, and one was already recorded, so it's songs from all over.
During the tour of the States we went to Alabama and played at the Muscle Shoals Studio. That was a fantastic week. We cut some great tracks, which appeared on Sticky Fingers - You Gotta Move, Brown Sugar and Wild Horses - and we did them without Jimmy Miller, which was equally amazing. It worked very well: it's one of Keith's things to go in and record while you're in the middle of a tour and your playing is in good shape. The Muscle Shoals Studio was very special, though - a great studio to work in, a very hip studio, where the drums were on a riser high up in the air, plus you wanted to be there because of all the guys who had worked in the same studio.
We went for a visit (to Muscle Shoals) because
we were doing a gig near there. It was a fashionable place to go.
Muscle Shoals was a lovely place, but for a band it was just another
studio. It was a place you go if you were, like, Aretha Franklin, to go
and play with this funky band they got together there. But we didn't
need this funky band kind of thing. We were our own funky band... I
think it was special because the band there was really special. It was
a bit small. I like big rooms. I don't know why, I just don't like
being in smal, crowded rooms. But great things came out of there. It
was fun while you're on tour to suddenly jump in and do this.
To my mind the things that Ry (Cooder) plays on have a kind of polish that the Stones generally began to develop around that time. The rough edges came off a bit. Mick Taylor started putting on the polish that became the next period of the Stones out of the raw rock and blues band.
Their degree of preparedness varied from album to album. On Sticky Fingers, most of the material had some shape or form before we went in. They never used to go into the studio without any ideas, but I can't remember any occasions when they would actually go into the studio with a completely finished song, with words and everything. Most of the time we'd just be jamming and playing riffs and the tape would be rolling and then we'd listen back to things and say, Why don't we work on that and make it a bit different?
What was great about Sticky Fingers is that the songs were pretty much complete by the time we went to the studio - which was not always the case later on.
Keith has his own way of working. He works on his own emotional rhythm pattern. If Keith thinks it's necessary to spend three hours working on a riff, he'll do it while everyone else picks their nose. I've never seen him stop and explain something.
Sticky Fingers was the first time we added horns - that was the influence of people like Otis Redding and James Brown, and also Delaney and Bonnie, who Bobby Keys and Jim Price played with. It was to add an extra dimension, a different colour, not to make the band sound any different.
I was staying with Mick for a brief period of time, and they were working on Sticky Fingers. I think Otis Redding and the Memphis sound was big on everybody's minds at the time and the Stones wanted to do something that had horns on it. Jim Price and I were available, we did a couple tracks, then they said, Let's do a couple more. One thing led to another and 40-some years later here I am.
We made (tracks) with just Mick Taylor, which are very good and everyone loves, where Keith wasn't there for whatever reasons... People don't know that Keith wasn't there making it. All the stuff like Moonlight Mile, Sway. These tracks are a bit obscure, but they are liked by people that like the Rolling Stones. It's me and (Mick Taylor) playing off each other - another feeling completely, because he's following my vocal lines and then extemporizing on them during the solos.
My playing was very upfront on the whole record.
The house that we used, Stargroves, was ideally suited because it was a big mansion and a kind of grand hall with a gallery around with bedroom doors and a staircase. Big fireplace, big bay window - you could put Charlie in the bay window. And, off the main hall there were other rooms you could put people in. We did stuff like Bitch there, and you can hear Moonlight Mile when Mick is singing with the acoustic, it sounds very live, because it was! 4 or 5 i n the morning, with the sun about to come up, getting takes.
(Recording at Stargroves) was nice. It's a massive house. Don't think of it as a suburban front room. It has this big hall with a high ceiling, which was my optimum kind of room. There was plenty of room for us to sleep. We worked all the time. I quite like working houses. Though you don't get people dropping by, like in studios, when unexepected things happen. But the good thing was it was very self-contained and it was easy.
With Sticky Fingers, I was quite amazed how laid-back it was, disorganised and organised at the same time. They started at 7 PM and finished about 2 or 3 AM. That said, the Stones didn't get there at 7 PM. Glyn (Johns) used to get quite impatient when they wouldn't turn up until 9 or 10. But when they did get there, it was straight in. There was a period of jamming, to find the feel and direction of a song. It started with someone showing the song on chords - not many chords - then Charlie finding a beat for it. It was like a gig in the studio. Mick always sang with the band... There were never many takes. Between one and four, I'd say.
They'd master things really, really hot. It's not that we played incredibly loud in the studio; we used to use small amps. Most of the time we'd use Fender Twin Reverbs. There's a certain kind of tape echo that they used to use a lot when Jimmy Miller was producing records for them, like a Revox echo. That's the kind of echo that's on the guitar intro from Can't You Hear Me Knocking and a few other things. If you listen you can hear it - it's a very fast, tight echo.
It would depend on the song, of course, but we'd usually lay down as much of it live as we could. We'd just play, you know. Keith would play rhythm and I'd play the lead parts, or we'd both play rhythm. That's how they were done. The vocals were added later, but there would always be a rough guide vocal there.
We finished - when were the last sessions, man? Was I even there for the last sessions of Sticky Fingers? When did they finish it? February, January, March? Most of it was finished before the (British) tour. And it was all finished, complete by the time we came here (to France)... I was very out of it by the end of the album... We were all surprised at the way that album fell together. Sticky Fingers - it pulled itself together.
(T)he thing that surprised me about this album, it's got lots of slow tunes, so it's quite hard to programme. In those days you had two sides... So, the tracks Brown Sugar through You Gotta Move, that's okay and then you start again with a fast number and end with a slow one, 'cause you've got so many slowies, it's ridiculous. I mean, Side Two is kind of slow and down, apart from the first number. So it's kind of odd. But it was in two parts. So you had a break when you turned it over. You didn't listen to it all at once. Now, if you did 10 songs, I'd say one ballad's enough 'cause I get really bored with them. But when you look at this, you have four or whatever it is.
I don't think Sticky Fingers is a heavy drug album any more than the world is a heavy world... I mean, though there are songs with heavy drug references, as people have pointed out to me. Me being completely unaware of the situation. They're all actually quite old, which maybe indicates that we were into those things a couple of years ago, 3 years ago... I mean, people, you can't take a fucking record like other people take a Bible. It's only a fucking record, man.
I think Beggars Banquet, Sticky Fingers and Let It Bleed.
I like that album; it's one of my favorite Stones albums. It's got a looseness and a spontaneity about it that I like.
Well, funnily enough, this year I've listened to (Stones albums) more than ever, because they all came out on CD... (T)he ones that impressed me were the ones I always thought were superior - Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed. And Sticky Fingers. And Exile.
My favorite two Rolling Stones records during the period I was with them, are Exile On Main Street and Sticky Fingers.
My favorite album from my period with them is Sticky Fingers.
Sticky Fingers is still a wonderful album. There's not a bad track on it.
(A) lot of good music. Very quickly made and lots of fun to do. And with really great musicians and good production team. And it was very successful. So, yeah, I am very proud of this album.
A lot of these tunes have a specific mood or an attitude, each one different and/or appropriate for the song. So Sister Morphine has this very doomy mood, Wild Horses is very emotional. Yet somehow they're together. They all hold up. There's no filler in it. It's compact enought to be listenable and each track is different. Maybe that's why you don't get bored.
It's a great-sounding album. It still stands up pretty good... (My favourite tracks on the album are) Brown Sugar and Moonlight Mile, first and last.
I have never listened to (the album), probably since the playback sessions. And then you went on to the next album. I never listen to them again. I mean, I'm not saying I don't hear the tracks, but as an album, as a piece, as a whole piece of work.
As I listened to Sticky Fingers for the first time I thought Brown Sugar was good, but not that good. I certainly hoped it wasn't the best thing on the album. As it turns out, there are a few moments that surpass it but it still sets the tone for the album perfectly: middle-level Rolling Stones competence. The lowpoints aren't that low, but the high points, with one exception, aren't that high... After the failure of Satanic Majesties they went back to rock & roll to recharge themselves, mixed it with contemporary themes and production styles, and came up with Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed. Those two albums are responsible for the Stones' reputation with most of their current audience and comprised the bulk of their material on their tour of America. The darker side of those albums was all but ignored... On Sticky Fingers, it doesn't really sound like they are doing what they want to. Play Brown Sugar and then play any opening cut from the first five albums. The early ones are sloppy, messy, and vulgar. They are brash and almost ruthless in their energy. And they sound real. By comparison Brown Sugar for all its formal correctness is an artifice. Ultimately they sound detached from it, as they do from all but a few things on Sticky Fingers. The two million hours they joke about spending on this record must have surely resulted from uncertainty about what it was they wanted to hear when they were through. On the other hand, those early records always sounded (whether they were is irrelevant) as if they were recorded in a day, without any overdubbing, comprised mainly of first takes. They reverberated with off the wall spunk and spontaneity. Obviously the Stones can't go back to that: it would be redundant and incredibly limiting for them. But perhaps they have now gone too far the other way. If Sticky Fingers suffers from any one thing it's its own self-defeating calculating nature. Its moments of openness and feeling are too few: its moments where I know I should be enjoying it but am not, too great.
You'd think some compensation was in order a year and a half after the fact, but that old evil life's just got them in its sway. From title's like Bitch and Sister Morphine and (the Altamont reference) Dead Flowers through Brown Sugar's compulsively ironic and bacchanalian exploitation/expose to the almost Yeatsian Moonlight Mile, this is unregenerate Stones. The token sincerity of Wild Horses drags me. But Can't You Hear Me Knocking and I Got the Blues are as soulful as Good Times, and Fred McDowell's You Gotta Move stands alongside Prodigal Son and Love in Vain. A
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