It seems like every five-to-10 years or so, the Rolling Stones remaster and reissue parts of their catalog, often with barely any difference in sound quality from the previous editions. The last time their seminal record, “Sticky Fingers” was treated to a remaster was back in 2009, so it doesn’t really seem like there could be any justification to do this again beyond a obligatory numerical anniversary date.
With the reissue of “Exile on Main St.” in 2010 (an album that desperately needed a clean-up, the previous transfers to CD did it no justice) the Stones might have realized that fans will not keep buying these reissues that offered nothing extra from what they have bought before. So what “Exile” also offered was a bonus disc of rarities and unreleased material, beyond just a cleaned-up sound for that record. And it sold pretty well.
And with the re-release of “Sticky Fingers” this week, fans are treated to a bonus disc of unreleased material from this era of the Stones’ career. Which is an interesting one as well. “Sticky fingers” was their first album without founder Brian Jones, whom was ousted/left the band prior. They had just left their label and started their own. It was Mick Taylor’s first full-length album as a member of the band. It was also the album that ushered the band into the 1970s. It is also one of the greatest rock and roll albums of all time.
The bonus material is interesting. The track they have promoted for the this reissue is a version of “Brown Sugar” that features Eric Clapton (despite his guitar work, the track is still one the weakest songs on the collection. And I yes, I know it is one of their biggest hits). To be fair, Clapton gives the track a sense of energy that is a bit refreshing, and it sounds more like garage rock (which is a plus).
The set also includes four other studio outtakes/extended versions: A wonderful, acoustic version of “Wild Horses,” an alternate version of “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” an extended version of “Bitch” and an alternate version of “Dead Flowers” that, no matter what, will never top Townes Van Zandt’s cover. No version ever will.
The rest of the disc is rounded out with a live show that includes five songs from the Roundhouse in 1971. The sound quality is fairly good, though not the best. It’s a nice addition to fill out the disc though.
So, even with the bells and whistles, it’s debatable if this collection is a necessity (unlike the “Exile on Main St.” reissue). It’s interesting for sure, but hardly justifies another purchase just for five studio outtakes and some live material. Hardcore fans will want it to complete their collection, but casual fans could probably stay happy with one of the versions they might already own, or just the single disc version of the classic album.