Friday, April 23, 2021

Quote of the Day (Keith Richards, on Mick Taylor’s Contribution to ‘Sticky Fingers’)

Mick Taylor being in the band on that ‘69 tour certainly sealed the Stones together again. So we did Sticky Fingers with him. And the music changed — almost unconsciously. You write with Mick Taylor in mind, maybe without realizing it, knowing he can come up with something different. You’ve got to give him something he’ll really enjoy. Not just the same old grind….Some of the Sticky Fingers compositions were rooted in the fact that I knew Taylor was going to pull something great."—Keith Richards with James Fox, Life (2010)

Fifty years ago this week, The Rolling Stones released Sticky Fingers, an LP with several distinctions:

*their first studio album to hit #1 on both the UK and US charts;

*the first studio album on their own label, Rolling Stones Records; and

*their first studio album to feature, from first to last, guitarist Mick Taylor.

Though Taylor only was a part of the band for a half-dozen years (1969-1974), the period is often considered the group’s creative peak, with the other studio LPs from the time including Let It Bleed (1969), Exile on Main St. (1972), Goats Head Soup (1973) and It's Only Rock 'n Roll (1974).

"Brown Sugar," "Wild Horses" and “Bitch” received the most air time, but it was on the 10-song collection’s “deep cuts” where Taylor could really make his presence felt—or, also Richards also put it in his bestselling autobiography, “Everything was there in his playing—the melodic touch, a beautiful sustain and a way of reading a song.”

Taylor collaborates beautifully with Richards and guest musician Ry Cooder (bottleneck guitar) on the haunting “Sister Morphine,” but he simply takes over the second half of “Sway.”

As for "Can't You Hear Me Knocking": well, he simply took it in another dimension, a phenomenon that might be even better appreciated in this YouTube clip from Glastonbury in 2013, when—nearly four decades after leaving the group—he rejoined them onstage for a guest appearance, reminding so many fans what they had been missing.

For years, many speculated on what led Taylor to leave the group at the end of 1974: dissatisfaction with songwriting credits, personality differences with Richards, a desire to remove himself from the atmosphere feeding his heroin addiction, or simply feeling out of place (he was the youngest, and the only non-original, member of the band in his time). 

But both sides lost because of his departure: Taylor, a cut from the merchandise-fueled touring bucks of later decades, and the band, from the loss of an elusive personality but powerhouse musician.

Brian Jones and Ron Wood—his predecessor and successor, respectively, in the Stones—have enduring places in the history of the band. But many fans of the group continue, rightly, to mourn Taylor’s absence. Play Sticky Fingers and see why.

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