Thursday, April 23, 2009

38 Years Ago Today: The Rolling Stones release "Sticky Fingers"

'Sticky Fingers' is an album by English rock band The Rolling Stones, released in April 1971. It was the band's 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. In 2003, 'Sticky Fingers' was listed as number 63 on the List of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Although sessions for 'Sticky Fingers' began in earnest in March 1970, they had done some early recording at Muscle Shoals Studios in Alabama in December 1969 and "Sister Morphine", cut during Let It Bleed's sessions earlier in March of that year, was held over for this release. Much of the recording for 'Sticky Fingers' was effected with The Rolling Stones' mobile studio unit in Stargroves during the summer and fall months in 1970. Early versions of songs that would appear on 'Exile on Main St.' were also routined during these sessions.

The Cover

The artwork for 'Sticky Fingers'—which features a working zipper that opened to reveal a man in cotton briefs (rubber stamped "THIS PHOTOGRAPH MAY NOT BE-ETC.")—was conceived by American pop artist Andy Warhol, photographed by Billy Name and designed by John Pasche. The cover, a photo of Joe Dallesandro's crotch clad in tight blue jeans, was assumed by many fans to be an image of Mick Jagger, however 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 (he died in 1996 aboard TWA Flight 800) 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. 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 minimized. The album features the first usage of the "Tongue and Lip Design" designed by John Pasche.

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

Suggested listening:

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