Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers

Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers

One of the greatest rock and roll bands of all-time is The Rolling Stones. Their music has transcended generations. Like many of us, I grew up listening to the Stones. Their sound, heavily influenced by folk, jazz and rhythm & blues, blending together to become gritty and melodic rock and roll. Simply stated, there’s no band quite like The Rolling Stones. I’m fortunate enough to have seen Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the rest of the Stones in concert. It’s certainly a tried and true, flamboyant, energetic, all-consuming rock show. Although hard to choose, the best Rolling Stones albums of all time are still regularly played by many today. 

However, pop culture appears to be changing with the times. Kids these days know “Rolling in the Deep,” but not The Rolling Stones. A recent survey of 2,000 parents with young kids finds six to twelve-year-olds were more likely to identify the famous Adele hit than the iconic rock and roll band (41% vs. 28%).

An easy remedy? Expose your kids to some classic rock. Whether you are grabbing your vinyl, or listening to some digital remasters on your smart speaker, you can’t go wrong with gathering the kids around for some of the greatest rock music in history. As for which band is considered the best of all-time, according to our list, experts agree that The Rolling Stones are number two on the list, behind The Beatles.

StudyFinds compiled a list of the five best Rolling Stones albums, from ten expert websites and music reviews. As always, we’d like to see your own recommendations in the comments below!

The List: Best Rolling Stones Albums, According to Experts 

1. “Exile On Main St.” (1972)

This double album, for many, is the quintessential Rolling Stones record and features the hit song “Tumbling Dice.” Ultimate Classic Rock describes it as “a masterpiece of strung-out soul, grinding guitars, soothing highs and punishing lows.”

“Exile is so dense and purposeful that it can be off-putting on initial listens. The cruel truths of ‘Ventilator Blues’ don’t always rest easily amidst the ecstatic epiphanies of ‘Happy’ and ‘All Down The Line’.” The near gospel assertions of ‘Shine A Light’ and ‘Let It Loose’ are crushingly moving in their inherent suggestion that there might actually be a drab afterlife to follow the monotonous lives we lead,” notes Stereogum.

Rolling Stones Exile On Main Street
Rolling Stones’ “Exile On Main Street”

Mick Jagger’s soulful rendition of ‘Shine A Light’ was inspired by Brian Jones’ tumultuous life. Exile was recorded at Keith Richards’ home, Villa Nellcôte in France. As for the recording process? Many have described it as chaotic. 

It’s largely what makes Exile on Main St a bonafide classic. As house guests and musical meanderers made their way to the villa as a pilgrimage, it meant that the band’s line-up was as changeable as the French weather. It allowed the album to be imbued with a previously unheard looseness for the band that felt both dangerous and alluring,” adds Far Out Magazine.

2. “Sticky Fingers” (1971)

Sticky Fingers is guitarist Mick Taylor’s first full studio album with The Rolling Stones. “From the strident opening riff of evergreen party-starting staple Brown Sugar (arguably the Stones’ ultimate defining moment), through the Gram Parsons-inspired, country rock paradigm ‘Wild Horses’, to the coked-out dreamscape of ‘Moonlight Mile’, Mick Taylor’s studio debut never lets up,” according to Louder Sound.

“No matter how many times you hear Charlie Watts’ snare kick in on ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking’, or the way it stands firm against Keith’s squirrelly riff, your limbs can’t help but respond at a molecular level,” adds Esquire

Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers
Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers”

The Guardian points out, from “Brown Sugar’s sleazy riff to the astonishing, weary, string-bedecked closer ‘Moonlight Mile’, their claim to be The Greatest Rock’n’Roll Band in the World has no more compelling evidence than the flawless 46 minutes of music here.”

3. “Let It Bleed” (1969)

“Let It Bleed” features the late Brian Jones on guitar, as well as Mick Taylor on separate songs. “Bookended by two of the Stones’ most celebrated tracks of all time – the apocalypto-gospel rocker ‘Gimme Shelter,’ and the bittersweet anthem ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ – Let It Bleed is an all killer, no filler collection of greats that has only got better with age,” notes Rock & Blues Muse.

Another notable track is “You Got The Silver.” It’s the first song Keith Richards sang solo on any Stones record.

Rolling Stones Let It Bleed
Rolling Stones’ “Let It Bleed”

“The album also shows the group building upon the country leanings of Beggars Banquet, and expanding those sounds beyond pastiche. ‘Love in Vain’ combines Robert Johnson’s midnight blues with Richards’ bleating slide guitar and chiming mandolin from Ry Cooder,” adds Ultimate Classic Rock.

Further proof this is an essential album, The Rolling Stones still play all nine songs live in concert from “Let It Bleed” today. “Arriving in the final month of the sixties, Let It Bleed served to cement the Stones’ reputation as deliciously diabolic harbingers of counter-cultural doom,” writes Louder Sound.

4. “Beggars Banquet” (1968)

Beggars Banquet features the unforgettable hits ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ and ‘Street Fighting Man’. It’s also the last full Rolling Stones album with guitarist Brian Jones.

NME notes ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ opens up with, “jingle-catchy ‘woo-woo’s’ and samba drums that can’t contain their excitement, and their exuberance is justified, even as the album that follows explores late-‘60s disillusionment and resignation. A feast of excellence.”

Rolling Stones Beggars Banquet
Rolling Stones’ “Beggars Banquet”

Rolling Stone points out, “Beggars marked a return to the band’s original seedy image, and the songs – ‘Street Fighting Man’, ‘Stray Cat Blues’, ‘Factory Girl’ – fell right in line. Most impressive, of course, was the instant epic ‘Sympathy for the Devil,’ which set the dark air of mystery that has come to define the band’s story.”

“Though Brian Jones’ contributions – tambura here, mellotron there – occasionally haunt proceedings, his narcotic- and paranoia-debilitated state essentially left the band one man down during the Beggars sessions,” notes Louder Sound on the album’s history. “And yet, with assistance from first-time Stones producer Jimmy Miller, Keith Richards stepped up to the plate to deliver one of their best albums.”

5. “Some Girls” (1978)

This album features the hit “Miss You.” Plus, it’s guitarist Ronnie Wood’s first full record with the Stones.

“At the tail end of the ’70’s, the Stones were very aware of who they were in the world. Some Girls involves a lot of disco influences, which in hindsight makes this record amazing. It contains all the rhythm and soulful blues influences that spurred their rise to fame but doesn’t lose the special sauce they’ve stirred as rock & roll bad boys,” according to Entertainment Weekly.

Rolling Stones' "Some Girls"
Rolling Stones’ “Some Girls”

Rolling Stone adds, “1978’s Some Girls was a New York album through and through. While the Bronx was burning, Jagger was singing about ‘the crime rate going up, up, up, up, UP!’ as if his own pants were on fire.”

“The jewel of the album, however, has got to be ‘Beast Of Burden’. The smooth interplay and sharing of lead guitar roles between Keith and Ronnie is an early indicator of the greatness of their guitar playing brotherhood – one that is still going strong some four and a half decades later,” notes Rock & Blues Muse.

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About Melissa Kraus

Melissa is a freelance writer, based out of New Jersey. She has over two-decades of writing, editing, and producing experience for Radio, TV, and Digital Media.

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18 Comments

  1. Tom Struska says:

    Elenor Rigby was the first rock song to incorporate strings. The cellos and violin elevate Elenor Rigby to a new level and maturity The Beatles were striving for.
    They fully arrived with the release of Revolver. The lyrics we haunting and melancholy. A sublime wonder

  2. Big Poppa says:

    I’d replace “Some Girls” with “Aftermath” or “12×5,” but otherwise this pretty-impossible-to-get-wrong list is solid enough. Can’t tell the history of the Stones without Brian Jones.

  3. LJ says:

    This is a very predictable list. Great albums all, of course. But any top album lists for the Stones that does not include Between the Buttons or anything pre-1968 is not comprehensive or (in effect) legit.

    These are the albums that sold the most, get the majority of acclaim, but sales and popularity do not always equal the best. And that is certainly the case here.

  4. Bill says:

    Good list! The Taylor years were hands down the most deep and soulful, but I’d put Some Girls ahead of where it is on here. That was a big transitional point, and they did a wonderful job with it. I know a lot of people want to say it’s “predictable”, or whatever, but good is good. The Brian Jones years were key, but still so young sounding to be genuinely considered as top contenders to me.

  5. JB says:

    Whatever

  6. Mark Lysaght says:

    To me the best Stones album is from 1969 and is called Get Yer Ya-yas Out. Maybe because it’s a live album it is not considered as a valid selection but to me it’s the Stones at their finest.

  7. James Gileo says:

    Would put Goat’s Head Soup ahead of Some Girls. Mick Taylor playing albums were the best.

  8. Jake says:

    Black and Blue was Ronnie Woods first studio album not some girls tattoo you is a great album side two.

  9. Jake says:

    Tattoo you side two Ronnie Wood first studio album was black and blue not some girls.

  10. Jake says:

    Ron Woods first studio album was black and blue not some girls.My favorite is tattoo you side 2 Take you to the top, waiting on a friend, worried abt u.

  11. David says:

    Tattoo You has to be in the top 5. Side B of that album is perfection. The only thing probably keeping it out of the #1 spot are the songs “Neighbors” and “Black Limousine”. Lose those 2 songs and add the song “She’s So Cold” which was recorded around the same time and a case for #1 is pretty strong.

  12. Ted says:

    The Stones are the greatest band of all-time, and it’s really not even close in terms on next greatest. Choosing their greatest albums, however, is quite a challenge. But the offered list is certainly solid.

  13. Ted says:

    Of, not on. Sorry.

    1. Ted H. says:

      You should P.S. and suggest that real fans can buy the ‘Some Girls Deluxe’ version. The band was so musically fertile at that time that a 2nd album’s worth of amazing songs were recorded and not released with the album in 1978. Plus, and someone can correct if I’m wrong but I believe ‘Tattoo You’ was mostly songs leftover from ‘Some Girls’. The Stones were song writing fools in that amazing period. Thank you boys for over 60 yrs of joy to my ears.

  14. Rich says:

    I still put Tattoo You at #5. Sequenced perfectly and eminently listenable.

  15. John Hurley says:

    Some girls should be Number one !!!

  16. Jesus says:

    Great selection but I thin the overlooked masterpieces in their discography are
    Aftermath and Between the Buttons but yeah that’s when you’re really digging and to be honest all these 5 albums i actually hated them on my first like 3 listens of each one which took like a 9-10 years to happen but then I listened to them again and WOW…!!!

    I first loved Let it bleed
    Then Sticky fingers
    Finally understood Exile (is basically the story of rock and roll through decades)
    Then I found out that beggars is actually quite good because its different

    But the hardest to appreciate was somegirls but man is good
    Very solid album besides
    All 4 singles from somegirls are some different but awesome and that’s what clues you into it’s greatness
    Miss you
    Respectable
    Beast of burden
    Shattered

  17. Gordon says:

    Compiled by experts ?
    And what makes you an expert above others when ranking a list of the Rolling Stones albums may i ask.