Saturday, April 11, 2009

Rock of Ages: The Rolling Stones - "Sister Morphine" (1971)

The Rolling Stones are yet one of the many bands that have such a catalog of amazing tracks that picking just one is harsh. It's no doubt, however, that Sticky Fingers has the best selection to choose a best from. On this album, a song they wrote the music for Maryanne Faithful sticks out to me as a masterwork in style and swagger with a touch of torment. "Sister Morphine" is a Stones track that stands above their usual rock and roll bad boy nature and looks into the soul of a tortured addict. Faithful's words seem more harrowing when delivered from Mick Jagger's tortured croon. The music is hazy and bluesy and puts you in the moment of feeling the reality of someone with an addiction problem. Desperation and despair. Isolation and longing.

The Stones at this point lost one of their original members, had an awful time at Altamont and witnessed an end of an era. Sticky Fingers definitely takes the band in a new direction of sorts which would be fully realized on the next record, Exile on Main Street. They were always grounded in the gritty side of the blues, but they dropped the British Invasion feel for a more raw and solid sound. "Sister Morphine" is this sound realized in a desperate sound. The Stones rock swagger subsides here a bit for something much more breathtaking, but it isn't without its moments of gritty guitar work and Mick Jagger showing his many shades of vocalizing. One of many stand-out Stones tracks.

Up Next: Elton John ignores all the others, he's got his memories

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