Stones Seeking New Fans With ‘Sticky Fingers’ Re-Release

Keith Richards doesn’t keep a list of the Top 10 Rolling Stones albums. But he’s happy to place “Sticky Fingers,” being re-released in a deluxe edition next week, near the very top.

“I put it up there,” he said in a recent interview. “I don’t No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 them, but it’s somewhere in that jumble, top four or five albums.”

Photo: Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for TDF Productions
Petco Park, San Diego, Calif.

With its provocative Andy Warhol designed album cover and strong sax work on classics like “Brown Sugar” and “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” the album has long been a favorite with fans who first heard it way back on its release date in 1971.

It was released at the height of what many regards as the Stones’ creative peak, a stretch that included Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed and Exile on Main Street.

The album catches the Stones in transition, with Mick Taylor stepping fully into his role as the late Brian Jones’ replacement. The Stones also moved beyond their comfort zone, recording several songs at the famed Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in rural Alabama rather than in their usual London haunts.

Richards remembers that studio as “a magical room” with a distinctive sound that made recording a breeze.

“It’s a natural, no wonder so many great records came out of there,” he said by phone. “All you had to do was stick a microphone up and it was there.”

The guitarist said he had been “iffy” about the industry trend toward re-releasing expanded editions of old classic material until the redone 2010 version of Exile did surprisingly well, even topping the British charts some 38 years after its initial release.

“I forgot that basically a couple of generations had gone by since the things first came out,” Richards said. “What I realized after Exile was that we picked up an enormous amount of new young fans, because they thought it was a new record.”

The band has toyed with the idea of playing the complete Sticky Fingers album on their current tour, offering a full version in a club date in Los Angeles but then only a handful of cuts on their first arena date.

Frontman Mick Jagger had warned that the album might contain too many ballads for a traditionally up-tempo Stones gig.

Richards, 71, said in his 2010 autobiography that he is content to rest on his considerable rock ‘n’ roll laurels. But he’s got several goals at the moment – including a consuming desire to get the band in a studio again after a lengthy hiatus. The last full studio CD, A Bigger Bang, was released a decade ago.

“There’s always talk of doing a blues album, but I’m not so sure about that,” Richards said.

“I’d be happy to get them back in the studio and record anything,” said Richards, who recently recorded a solo album but has yet to announce its official release. “Sometimes we come up with our best stuff in the studio. I’ll just be happy to get them in there.”