The Rolling Stones’ Dark Masterpiece

The Rolling Stones posing in an ad with the artwork from Sticky Fingers. Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Many people say the 1960s ended at Altamont, when the Hell’s Angels fatally stabbed an eighteen year-old black man named Meredith Hunter during a huge, Woodstock-like music festival. The Rolling Stones were playing “Under My Thumb” during the murder, just feet away. In Slate, Jack Hamilton writes about the album the Rolling Stones recorded after Altamont, Sticky Fingers, and why many people consider it one of rock’s greatest:

The Stones may have failed to meet expectations, but they did so in the band’s greatest fashion: defiantly and beautifully. Sticky Fingers was a misdirection, in hindsight the only livable option for a band outrunning its own Mephistophelean hype. The album’s cover—a close-up of a tight-jeaned crotch with a working zipper, designed by Andy Warhol—appeared to offer entry into a world of leering male sexual prowess, but instead offered entry into a world of something more honest and more interesting: male vulnerability. Written and recorded in the long wake of Jagger’s breakup with Marianne Faithfull and the early years of Richards’ torrid relationship with Anita Pallenberg, Sticky Fingers was a relationship record, an album about affection, pain, desire, loss, about loving people you’ve hurt and people who’ve hurt you.

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