I’ve spent a fair amount of time with The Rolling Stones’ catalog, after coming to them a little late in my musical life. I know seven or eight of their albums very well, including the half-dozen classics they released between 1966 and 1972.
Somehow, though, I never got around to 1973’s Goats Head Soup. Maybe that’s because, as the follow-up to Exile on Main St. and the start of a half-decade period considered their first creative slump, it just doesn’t have the cachet of the rest of their work.
Between the Buttons, released in 1967, was the seventh Rolling Stones album and the second (following the previous year’s Aftermath) to feature only songs written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
As was the custom back then, a separate American version was released, swapping out two tracks for two songs released in England as a double-A single: ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’ and ‘Ruby Tuesday.’ While I generally hate the concept of different UK and U.S. releases, there’s no question that the addition of those two songs make the American version of this album a bona fide masterpiece.
As I look at ten celebrated albums of 1981, I’ll highlight some I don’t know at all and some with which I have passing familiarity.
The Rolling Stones’ Tattoo You falls into the second category. I’ve done my share of dipping into The Stones’ catalog, with most of my focus on the remarkable period between 1966 and 1972 (regardless of your opinion of the band, it’s hard to deny the sustained creative excellence of that stretch). The latest Stones album I know well is 1978’s Some Girls.
My #2 album of 1971 is one of The Rolling Stones’ best albums ever, Sticky Fingers. This was the third album in a run of four classics that stand up as one of the best all-time musical streaks. Between 1968 and 1972, The Stones reeled off Beggars Banquet, Let it Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street.
Ranking those four would be tough, but I can definitely make a case for Sticky Fingers as the best of them.
The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers is album three in one of the greatest four-album runs in music history.
It starts with 1968’s Beggar’s Banquet, then 1969’s Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers in 1971, and finally Exile On Main St. in 1972. Five years, four stone-cold classic albums featuring some of the most indelible rock music ever recorded.