Sticky Fingers Album by The Rolling Stones, 1971.
Why the album rocks: Sounding subdued compared to earlier Rolling Stones albums, Sticky Fingers release betrayed the difficulties that band members were enduring at the time. This emotional depth made its way onto the album, especially on tracks like “Sister Morphine,” “Moonlight Mile” or “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.” This album was Mick Taylor’s first full-length appearance on a Rolling Stones album. Partially recorded in the legendary Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama, the Stones were flirting with the blues while adding a twist of southern soul. A horn arrangement by saxophonist Bobby Keys and trumpet player Jim Price was added to further enriched the sound, particularly during “Brown Sugar” and “Bitch.” The album marked the end of the endless summer of the 1960s.
Why the cover design rocks: WARHOL. WARHOL. WARHOL. At a party in 1969 in New York, artist Andy Warhol casually mentioned to Mick Jagger that it would be amusing to have a real zipper on an album cover. A year later, Jagger suggested the idea for the release of Sticky Fingers.
Warhol took the cover shot and although many have assumed the model was Mick Jagger, it is rumored to be Joe Dallesandro, a hanger-on in Warhol’s studio.
Album designer and packager, Craig Braun realized there needed to be an extra layer of cardboard to protect the record from the metal zipper. That layer features another Warhol shot of a different man in his underwear.
Despite this extra layer, during shipment, the zipper would press into the album stacked on top of it, invariably damaging the track “Sister Morphine.” Atlantic Records threatened to sue Braun for all the damages. So after getting “very depressed and very high,” Braun came up with the solution of pulling down the zipper before the album was shipped so that it would only dent the label. However, he never was able to figure out a way to keep Sticky Fingers from scratching other album covers.
In the beginning, several department store chains refused to put the album on display claiming that model’s jeans were too tight. Braun said, “If you stand back from that cover, you can actually see the guy’s dick. I used to kid Andy: ‘I know you had that guy playing with his dick before you shot the picture!’” The album cover pushed the Stones into a more sexual mode under their new label Rolling Stones Records.
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