The idea of the Rolling Stones performing the classic “Sticky Fingers” album in its entirety, as rumors are strongly suggesting will be the case on the band’s coming tour, is incredibly tantalizing. It will be made even more so if guitarist Mick Taylor – whose playing on the original album added tremendously to both its initial power and its enduring resonance – is on tour for this road jaunt. (Taylor was a special guest on the Stones’ last major tour, joining the band for torrid versions of “Midnight Rambler” on most dates, and occasionally, a few more tunes. But having the guitarist on board for all of “Sticky Fingers” would be a whole different matter. And for “wholly different,” read “way more amazing”.)
“Sticky Fingers” will fill up only about 40 minutes of what is likely to be a 120-minute show, however. What else can we expect? Or, more important, what can we hope against hope for?
The Stones have been hinting at goodbye forever, and as anyone who has seen any of the tours since the late 1980s “reunion” bonanza behind the “Steel Wheels” album knows, there are certain songs the band just plain can’t seem to shake off, “Start Me Up,” “Jumping Jack Flash,” “Satisfaction” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” among them.
Does anyone aside form a first-timer ever really need to hear these songs played live again? Doesn’t matter. We’re going to. (Whether we hear them doing them in Buffalo should be known very soon.)
A deep cut or two can provide an unexpected twist in a set list, however, and the Stones are smart enough to know that a few such picks can satisfy the hard-core repeat offenders, without alienating anyone who is there solely for “the hits.”
This way, everyone wins – even drummer Charlie Watts, who has appeared to be somewhat bored with the material for, oh, 30 years or so. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood should pick a rarely played gem just for Watts. Lord knows, the guy has earned it. Can you imagine what it has been like drumming for this band for 50-plus years? Can’t exactly have been a picnic.
Here’s my own wish list. If we get even one of these, I’ll be happy.
“Dancing With Mr. D”
This is one of the filthiest, darkest and swampiest tunes in the Stones oeuvre, and it deserves an airing. What makes it great? Answering that question cuts to the heart of what makes the Stones – or at least, the Stones post 1967 – great. It’s that elemental, primal and truly sinister open-tuned guitar riff from Richards that really moves the tune along, suggesting a late night at the crossroads waiting not on a friend, but on “Mr. D” himself, with the full intention of striking some sort of nefarious deal. Jagger sings this one with full commitment, too.
“She’s a Rainbow”
The Stones at their psychedelic best. The chorus simply explodes. Love to hear this one ricocheting around the Ralph.
“2,000 Light Years From Home”
Rarely played slice of trippy, Stonesy bliss. Played during the “Steel Wheels” tour, but not particularly well. Be great to hear a solid present-day take on an absolute classic.
The Stones at the peak of their ’70s funk game. This groove might provide opportunity for some improvisational sparks to fly, particularly if the group still has jam-funk legend Karl Denson filling the sax spot for the departed Bobby Keys.
An “Exile on Main St.” gem. And a strutting, sneering masterpiece of a song. If Mick Taylor is in the house, this one could be the highlight.
“Hand of Fate”
Even though he was wrestling personal demons during the ’70s, Richards still came up with some indelible riffs during this period. This is one. Another “hellhounds on my trail” type of sweaty nightmare blues.
“Coming Down Again”
Speaking of Richards’ demons, this is quite likely his most honest recounting of a life weighed down by addiction. Richards always gets a one or two song “solo” spot in a Stones set. I’d rather hear this than “Happy” for the hundredth time.
“If You Can’t Rock Me”
Sure, it sounds like the less talented younger brother of the “Exile On Main St.’” opener “Rocks Off.” But still, this is a burning riff, and Jagger usually kills it when the band hauls it out of retirement.
The Stones do punk. Burning, attitude-driven, timeless, and pretty much never played live.
“Going to a Go Go”
The Stones do Motown the way the Sex Pistols might do Memphis Soul – with fire, elegant sloppiness, and a rotten attitude. They breathed fire into this Smokey Robinson & the Miracles classic on their 1981 tour. Love to see it make a comeback.