Why Sticky Fingers on Vinyl Isn’t Always A Bad Thing…


Ten reasons why The Rolling Stones’ Classic Sticky Fingers should be in your record collection

Classic Rock Magazine Vinyl issueClassic Rock Magazine this month is a particularly excellent read as it is a “Vinyl Special”. They have some things that regular readers of Every Record Tells A Story will find reassuringly familiar (a “vinyl challenge” where they give cash to people to buy vinyl, a piece on an overlooked album by Raging Slab, double live albums etc – all very entertaining stuff) as well as some excellent original ideas I hadn’t seen before, including an amusing look into whether smoking pot enhances the vinyl listening experience.

I did consider briefly whether I could go one step further, with an article entitled “Does Heroin enhance the vinyl listening experience?”

Actually, heroin probably does little for the listening experience. I can only imagine day one would see me vomit over a first pressing of Dark Side of the Moon (which does little for audio fidelity, I find), on day two I might nod off whilst putting the record on the platter, and on day three would sell the record player to pay for the next fix..

Throughout the magazine, Classic Rock does seek to present 250 Albums You Must Own On Vinyl, and there are plenty of as yet unheard records in that list to keep me busy. The last article is titled “The Ten Commandments” and states the Ten Core Albums every home should own – on vinyl.

I have my own Top Ten, but the one album that is on mine and CR’s list, is Sticky Fingers by The Rolling Stones. Happily, May 25th will see a timely reissue of the album.

The deluxe edition of Sticky Fingers will include a version of “Brown Sugar” featuring Eric Clapton, unreleased versions of “Bitch,” “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” and “Dead Flowers” and a new version of “Wild Horses.”

A tour poster from the Camden Roundhouse show in 1971
A tour poster from the Camden Roundhouse show in 1971

It will also include five tracks from a 1971 Camden Roundhouse show. A super-deluxe CD box set version will also include Get Yer Leeds Lungs Out!, a 13-track live album from a 1971 Leeds gig, previously only available on bootleg (and here’s a Youtube clip of the show)

Here are some facts about Sticky Fingers and a few reasons you should have a copy of this album on vinyl:

1. It’s one of the four classic Stones albums that you really should own: (namely Let It Bleed, Beggars Banquet, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main St). It was also the first Stones LP not to feature Brian Jones.

2. Regardless of where you stand on the audio quality debate on CDs versus vinyl, the vinyl version is waaaay more fun than the CD: This is mainly because it has a working zipper on the cover, and a pretend belt-buckle. Many original copies you see now have damage to the cardboard belt buckle, as it was pretty flimsy, so if you can’t wait for the reissue, try to find a copy in the best condition. Later pressings dispensed with the zipper altogether, which is no fun at all. To my mind, either get a zipper copy, or don’t bother…

3. Impeccable credentials of the cover art: The sleeve was designed by Andy Warhol, and features a close up of a jean-clad crotch. The model is unconfirmed, and was rumoured to be Jagger himself. It probably wasn’t.

4. Hidden extras!: What isn’t immediately apparent is that the cover has a unique construction, which means that there is an inside print of a close up of the underpant-clad crotch hidden in the sleeve. The underpants contain the legend “This photograph may not be – etc”. The inner sleeve features photography of the band by Peter Webb.

Those underpants in full...
“Do you dress to the left or the right, sir?

4. There are a couple of variants of zipper – the bigger one is the earliest example, but was replaced as records were getting damaged in transit. The record company tried different tactics to reduce damage, eventually pulling the zip down more to the middle of the sleeve, but a smaller zipper quickly replaced the larger original. The big zipper is therefore more sought after by record collectors (Mine in the photos is the smaller one – saved me a few £). Mint versions of the LP sell for upwards of £50, with the later smaller zipper generally £10 less than the bigger one. However, I picked my copy up for £15 so it pays to look around. The new deluxe version will sell for £25, so unless you really need an original copy, the reissue, with its bonus disc, may be an attractive option.

What a huge one! You can compare the size of this zipper to the smaller version on my copy at the top of the page

5. According to the photos released of the new reissue, LPs will feature a new zipper, with the “tongue” logo. Sticky Fingers was the first Stones album to feature the now famous logo.

Sticky Fingers
Note new “Lips” logo zipper in the new reissue…

6. The album had a long gestation period. “Sister Morphine comes from ’68, although we cut it in ’69” said Keith Richards in a 1971 Rolling Stone Magazine interview. Initial sessions for the album were begun over three days in December 1969 at Muscle Shoals Studios in Alabama, the legendary recording studios responsible for hits from Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin. Both Brown Sugar and Wild Horses were recorded there and the former debuted at Altamont. The rest was recorded at Stargroves, (Mick’s house) on the mobile recording studio, and at Olympic Studios in March and April 1970.

7. When Atlantic Records in Spain saw the album artwork, they rejected it, instead substituting an “inoffensive” tin of treacle with a hand inside. Were the Arctic Monkeys paying homage with the cover of their “Black Treacle” single? Spain also substituted “Sister Morphine” for “Let It Rock”.

The Spanish cover of Sticky Fingers, which my 6 year old daughter describes as “creepy”

8. Marianne Faithfull wrote the lyrics to “Sister Morphine” as she imagined a car crash victim in a hospital asking for morphine, and receives a co-write credit for the track. Jagger however States that Faithfull only wrote “a couple of lines…”cousin cocaine”… that bit”

9. The record was the Stones’ first on their own label after their Decca deal expired. In order for the Decca deal to be confirmed as complete, they had to deliver one last song, which they gleefully and rather mischievously titled “C—sucker Blues”.

10. Guest players include Ry Cooder with a slide guitar on Sister Morphine, Billy Preston on organ, Bobby Keys on sax and Pete Townsend who contributes backing vocals on “Sway”.


7 responses to “Why Sticky Fingers on Vinyl Isn’t Always A Bad Thing…”

  1. J. Avatar

    I’ve been looking around for this one for a while now – my best bet may just be this reissue.


  2. John S Avatar

    I think “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” is one of the greatest Stones tunes. The first couple of minutes is brililant dirty rock’n’roll; then bizarrely it morphs through a some R&B horns to what can only be described as jazz rock. This must have been Mick Taylor. I”m assuming Keef was responsible for the first bit. if those two minutes had just been extended to four, and the rest had been cut off, I think it might be my favourite Stones track. Instead it’s a fascinating piece, unlike anything else they ever did.


    1. Every Record Tells A Story Avatar

      I agree. It’s a great track and one reason why you need to play the album as it never appears on compilation albums.


  3. Phillip Helbig Avatar
    Phillip Helbig

    I recently saw an interview with Robert Plant where, at the end of the interview, he was asked what advice he would give to the numerous singers in Zeppelin cover bands. “Dress to the right!”.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. matpark1990 Avatar

    Definitely one of my favourite Stones albums, maybe just behind Let it Bleed. Start to finish its just flows and offers something different each time. I think Dead Flowers has to be one of my favourite tracks on the album!


    1. Every Record Tells A Story Avatar

      Yeah, that’s s good one isn’t it. I think it’s a favourite of many Stones fans.


  5. sachaogrady Avatar

    Great post. Sticky Fingers on vinyl is how I first experienced it and what an experience it was. I love my old copy and cherish it madly

    Liked by 1 person

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