Record Machine: The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers

The Rolling Stones’ 1971 album Sticky Fingers not only features some of their very best songs, it is also the album that features concept artwork by Andy Warhol. The original vinyl sleeve features a real working zipper, and friends, that’s just what we have here today.

The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers (1971)
Bulge and real zipper included.

Am I bragging that I have the first edition of this album? You’re damn right I am. Though my sleeve may not be in the best condition – the zipper is partially disconnected from the cardboard and the sleeve edges are worn – the record itself is still in perfect playing condition. It makes me wish I had a better turntable.

The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers cover interior
The text below Andy Warhol reads, “THIS PHOTOGRAPH MAY NOT BE–ETC.”

Sticky Fingers is also the first Stones album to use the lips and tongue logo, and it’s the first release from the band under Rolling Stones Records, which was a division of Atlantic. Previously, the band had been contractually tied to Decca, and the 1970s now had them embarking on a new musical era. They’d become a little less baby-faced and a lot more cocaine-fueled.


Brown Sugar
Wild Horses
Can’t You Hear Me Knocking
You Gotta Move

Though I love “Brown Sugar,” and I have a fondness for “Wild Horses,” – for some reason, cover versions of the song tend to win me over instead – “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” is my favorite from Side One. The first time I remember really paying attention to the song was when it was featured in the 2001 Johnny Depp/Penelope Cruz film, Blow. I love the guitar riff, its length, and the very jam-like nature of it all.


I Got The Blues
Sister Morphine
Dead Flowers
Moonlight Mile

For Side Two, I think I’d pick “I Got The Blues” as my favorite, just for the contrast to the swagger in “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.”

In the silk sheet of time
I will find peace of mind
Love is a bed full of blues

The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers (back cover)
The literal backside cover art.

I’ve never been a massive Stones fan, but of course I do like them. It would be very strange if I didn’t like them, considering my adoration of so many other varieties British rock. When it comes to Sticky Fingers, I dig the Warhol connections, the bluesy and soulful ramble of the music, and the unapologetic sexuality throughout. This isn’t the only Rolling Stones album I own, but I think it might be my favorite.


By Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

10 replies on “Record Machine: The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers”

Funny story: I found my dad’s copy of Sticky Fingers right around the time I found my mom’s copy of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) and I pulled that zipper down expecting to find something else entirely, because that book was fascinating when I was eleven.

Flash forward ten years, and one of my fondest memories of college is skipping a Drugs and Social Policy class to drink beer out of something called a Schooner, while singing “Dead Flowers” at the top of my longs with a great girl friend and a boy I really wanted to make out with. I did end up seeing what was under his zipper. Ahem.

Weird – was playing this in the car the other day. I love Sister Morphine, co-written with Marianne Faithfull and provides a bit of an insight into her lifestyle at the time. It touches on her overdose which led to her falling into a coma. Adds a bit of a chilling touch to that song. Apparently she had to fight for a while to be acknowledged for her contribution to that song as well!

But yes, agree with Can’t You Hear Me Knocking and I Got The Blues but my other absolute favourite is the closing song Moonlight Mile, which inspired a film starring Jake Gyllenhaal no less! Some beautiful lines in that song, love the way it builds and then fades. One of my favourites of theirs I think, along with Let It Bleed.

I am reasonably certain I have Let It Bleed too. There are a handful of Stones records in this inherited collection, but I need to get a good index of them going so I can know what I have at a glance! I almost went with “Sister Morphine” as the favorite on Side Two, but this album is so good, it’s hard to pick.

This is an awesome album, although I have to put aside “Brown Sugar” because it’s such a long-story discussion.

The songs on this album are either raw energy or drug-twistiness. “Bitch” is obviously an example of the first:
“Yeah when you call my name
I salivate like a Pavlov dog
Yeah when you lay me out
My heart is beating louder than a big bass drum, alright.”

and “Sway” of the second:
“Did you ever wake up to find
A day that broke up your mind
Destroyed your notion of circular time?”

Thanks for reminding me of this one.

Indeed! I really enjoy all the songs, and I wonder if sometimes, when everyone goes on about Lennon/McCartney songs from that era that they forget about how much Jagger/Richards had going on lyrically as well. But then, I guess that’s why they say that some people are Beatles people and some people are Stones people.

Leave a Reply