Tuesday, January 14, 2014

High Strung Guitar: Wild Horses

As we continue our look at the use of high strung guitar, I turn to another popular song that employed this technique – The Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses.” Inspired by Gram Parsons, this Stones’ foray into a country influenced sound simultaneously was issued on two albums on two different labels in 1971.

Joining its fellow single “Brown Sugar,” “Wild Horses” was one of the two 45s from the album “Sticky Fingers” – their first release on Rolling Stones Records that was distributed by Atlantic’s ATCO division. Due to a contractual fight with their former manager Allen Klein, he claimed ownership rights to both singles and subsequently they also appeared on a London Records compilation known as “Hot Rocks 1964-1971.”

Keith Richard plays most of the guitar parts – a 12-string guitar in the right channel and the electric lead guitar; he also provides backing vocals on the chorus. Mick Taylor, however, was responsible for the high strung guitar that appears in the left channel. He does some nice accompanying parts as well as some 12th fret harmonics. The remainder of the line-up is straight forward: Mick Jagger on vocals, Bill Wyman on bass, and Charlie Watts on drums. They are joined by the late Jim Dickinson on piano.

Today’s feature also fulfills our Atypical Tuesday selection as “Sticky Fingers” was packaged with an Andy Warhol designed cover of a man’s jeans with an operational zipper. Behind the cover was a photograph of men’s briefs, but you had to pry apart a thin line of glue to get to the inner picture.

Bowing to complaints of record stores who returned a number of albums damaged in shipping, Atlantic began manufacturing the album with the zipper pull tab opened and centered over the label. This prevented damage in shipment to the playing surface of the LP – a hazard that occurred when the zipper was completely closed.

While “Brown Sugar” was a number one record, its follow-up “Wild Horses” was a mid-charter at #28. Selling over three million copies, “Sticky Fingers” was certified triple platinum. The album spent four weeks at the number one position on the US album charts and a total of 62 weeks on the charts.

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