Tag Archives: Blues

Sticky Fingers – The Rolling Stones

Growing up I remember running through my father’s records looking for anything your average classic rock loving 5th grader would recognize. Jimi Hendrix, Led Zepplin, Eric Clapton, anything the local rock radio station was playing. Although it took me time to truly understand the greatness of The Rolling Stones, I still stopped to look at the Sticky Fingers album during every perusal. The album-art was a close up shot of a tight-jeaned man covered from all angles, when you removed the liner notes from within the record the man was in cotton briefs, as if he had just removed his pants. Andy Warhol conceived the cover design and conducted the photo sessions. Many speculate that the cover model was the eccentric artist’s boyfriend at the time, others claim Warhol used a variety of models during the session and secretly chose the shots without crediting any of the men. The reason I stopped at this record was not the album art or the music, it was the fact that the album itself featured a working zipper on the front, something that set it apart from everything else in the mass of musty cardboard and dirty plastic sleeves. Little did I know that more than a decade after first recognition I would drunkenly battle Beatles fans in dark bars stating that The Rolling Stones are a better band. My weapon? Sticky Fingers

This record is dark, written with drug addiction, alcoholism, money and fame washing over Mick and Keith like a Pacific tsunami. The meter of the music was the only thing keeping an even keel. From rock, to blues and country, they weren’t afraid to test the limits. I equate Brown Sugar to a one night stand. Drunk, steady and dangerous, this is still an 8pm barroom staple. Wild Horses is a country song through and through right down to the crawl of the rhythm and cry of the pedal steel. Many artists would write about heroin, alcohol, sex and money, but The Stones didn’t have time to dress up their songs in pretty words disguising drugs as women, women as nature, nature as religion. They were raw. Sister Morphine (drugs), Brown Sugar (sex), Dead Flowers (social seclusion and heroin use) all told stories of pain and pleasure that could be understood blatantly and unmistakably across the board.

“Well, when you’re sitting back
In your rose pink Cadillac
Making bets on Kentucky derby day
Ill be in my basement room
With a needle and a spoon
And another girl to take my pain away”

I love the Beatles, but when it comes to experimenting with sound or lyrics, The Stones will always win.

Rock On-Humble Pie

This album was a stab in the dark. I chose Rock On by Humble Pie for three reasons. 1) My father owned two copies on vinyl and copy on CD. 2) This record was released in 1971, the same time my father was stationed in Germany while serving in the army (draft, not volunteer) and 3) Humble Pie features the lead guitar and vocal styling of one Peter Frampton, who left the band a year after Rock On was released to pursue a much more lucrative solo career (i.e. play guitar with the annoying “talk-box” and write songs like “Oo, Baby I Love Your Way) Needless to say once I heard about Frampton’s involvement I began to have second thoughts, maybe I’d turn to something with a little more meaning behind it, something we shared, something we both liked…but no. That’s not why I got into this. At the least, I needed to listen, to try and find out why my father had so many copies of this album (and why he had so many other Humble Pie records.)

Wow.

Steve Marriott was the leader of the band and it is apparent on this album that he took artistic control. “79th and Sunset” features lyrics that would pink the cheeks of most mid-seventies Frampton fans. Most of the songs have a deep Zepplin-esque blues-metal feel to them, while they lacked the thunderous drumming of John Bonham they were able to deliver a powerful sound because of the two guitarists, one who switched to keys intermediately. Sure, they were a good band who would tour in the 70’s with the heavy hitters people of Generation Y still idolize, but you’d be hard pressed to find a trace of them in today’s popular culture. I can understand why Humble Pie didn’t quite stand the test of time; they fit in, but didn’t stand out.

Why does this album have such a large presence in my Father’s collection? I think it has a lot to do with where he was at that moment in time. It was 1971, he was drafted into the army and spent a lot of time hanging out with the various other recruits who had the unfortunate luck to have their numbers drawn. They weren’t army material and they spent the majority of their time listening to records, altering their minds, and trying to avoid the shell shocked and mildly insane Vietnam transfers. I can tell which records he took overseas with him and which ones he bought there by the initials on the inside of the sleeve (GWC written in marker) or by the language in the liner notes (German). These records were different then what he usually listened to. My father preferred Blues, Funk, Indie Rock and Soul, but through his army years he had Led Zepplin, Black Sabbath, Steppenwolf, a lot of heavy music. While most of us have music that defines a period of our lives, in this I feel that my father had a time in his life that defined the music he enjoyed.

Two side notes.
1) Humble Pie is mentioned as a touring band alongside Stillwater, Bad Company and Led Zepplin in the movie Almost Famous.
2) Peter Frampton wrote the 2 most radio friendly, pop-oriented songs on this album. Although it pains me to say this; he is actually a damn good rock guitarist.