The Audio Geek!

Real Sticky Fingers gold!

In recent weeks there has been a re-mastered, re-issued version of the classic 1971 Rolling Stones album, 'Sticky Fingers'. I don't own a CD of this album in my collection, so I thought I should take this opportunity to rectify that situation.

According to my count, this new release comes in 10 (yes 10) different formats, packages and content. I thought I would do some internet research to guide me as to which version was the best value and of most interest to a middling Stones fan like myself. What I thought I read was the new album (on CD at least), while better than the original and recent re-releases, was re-mastered 'hot' with not a great amount of dynamic range. On such a broad album of Rolling Stones work, rockers, ballads, country and other styles I thought that this prospect sounded pretty dismal. There was 'talk' that the 'best' CD version to get was the remastered Virgin Records pressing from 1994 overseen by Bob Ludwig in California. And it came with the 'original' Andy Warhol real zipper on the CD cover / insert. But you could probably guess that this version is not available at every corner record shop. So I started digging…

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My delivered copy of 'Sticky Fingers' was indeed in mint condition

Thanks goodness for Google (or in this case Amazon) as I found a 'mint' copy for sale in Portugal at a not-totally outrageous price. When shipping was including and with the exchange rate factored in it started to get up there, but hey, it had a real zipper! So I paid my money and took my chances. I received a Portugal Post shipping tracking number and duly waited. After two weeks, nothing, I logged on to the tracking site and found that it had been 'shipped' from Lisbon but no onward info. I was starting to become very nervous when mid week a package from Europe arrived on my doorstop, some two and a half weeks after ordering.

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Did I mention the zipper?

With appropriate levels of enthusiasm, I opened the DigiKase, admired the zipper (!) and album-like sleeve insert and duly copied the album in Apple Lossless format to my iTunes library. I then fired up my new preferred digital player, Audirvana Plus 2.2 and sat back to listen. By chance I was speaking to Lee from Kyron Audio earlier in the week about how badly Rolling Stones CDs are normally recorded, produced and mastered.

I am here to tell you that this one is different, very different. I certainly wouldn't call it 'audiophile quality' but it sounded relatively open, spacious, detailed and an absolute joy to listen to from 'Brown Sugar' to 'Moonlight Mile'. I had this album on vinyl back in the day and don't recall the actual music being that good. But, in my opinion, there is not a bad track on the 10 song album.

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All is not perfect however. Some of Mick's vocals are a touch harsh and / or strained. Could be the recording or it could be my laptop / USB cable front end.

One last step, for fun, is to re-rip the disc, using XLD and 'Paranoid Mode' into uncompressed AIFF format. It 'should' make no difference at all, but on a recording this good and through the transparent Kronos, even if there is a marginal improvement it will be audible. Update, I did the comparison rip and test and I heard absolutely NO DIFFERENCE between the XLD / Paranoid uncompressed AIFF and iTunes-ripped ALAC. Looks like I will be saving space and going Apple Lossless all the way from now on…

My 'Sticky Fingers' purchase has gone from just being an artist collection filler, to being a reference disc for both outstanding 1970s rock and a high quality rock recording. I couldn't be happier with the outcome.