What sounds "best" to someone else might be unacceptable to you.Everyone hears things differently.I'm perfectly happy with my copy of the original CD release,but that's just me.
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1/ original pressing (england) 2/ Mobile Fidelity pressing 3/Japenese re-issues 4/ US or Canadian original pressing 5/ CD's and reissue lps, most are not that good at all. This is just my opinion but as big stones fan if you can,t afford or are not willing to pay for the better versions just get the cd versions ABK label that were issued I think in 2002. Their Hybrid with sacd layer as well and on a descent player sound pretty good . Cheers
Look for an original first pressing with the yellow label stamped with "COC 59100" at the top edge and at the bottom edge "Distributed by ATCO, Div of Atlantic Recording Corp. 1841 B'Way, NY, NY." The second pressing will read 39105, have a "WEA" logo and not show the 1841 B'Way Address. The latter info I garnered from an EBAY seller March 15, 2009. I have my original early 70's copy stored away but wanted to hear an LP version once I became an audiophile a few years ago and hungered for the "original" snap of the record. So I chased down a recent reissue on heavy vinyl but it was muddy sounding and I returned it. I then went looking for a Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab half speed edition and having never having heard a bad MFSL record, I expected a return to my rip roaring 70's sounding lp and more. Wow, even MFSL let me down as the recording was dull and lifeless sounding. (Most Stones fans agree this is a surprising disappointment - maybe the MFSL Box Set edition version is different but I don't know.) Finally, I went hunting for an original first pressing lp and got it. This lp sounds gorgeous, full, clear, with its pumping-sneering-leering-get out of my way rock and roll as I remembered it. "Can't You Hear Me Knockin'" is one of the Stones most remarkable pieces ever (clocking in at 7:17) for its fabulous jam arrangement alternating sax and guitar solos in the latter half culminating in one of rock's great riffing guitar solos that I have to credit Mick Taylor as it is tasty, elegant, and grooves. (But you already know that.) When the sax comes back to close out the climax, there's nothing left but to smile and say "Thank you God". Overall, Sticky Fingers deserves it place among the "classic" rock records as it features many great songs - Brown Sugar, Wild Horses, Sway, Bitch, Moonlight Mile, and more, showing off how the Stones can swing through different musical generes on one record. It's the pinnicle of the Stones "Golden Era" because after guitarist Mick Taylor's departure (Exile on Main Street), the band's sound went searching trying to find a niche in the changing music styles of disco, ragge, etc..., that followed in the late 70's forward. Good luck on finding a first vinyl pressing. It'll be worth your effort as none of the CD's I've ever heard ever came close to this edition.
A final coda: For the new reissue of Exile on Main Street due out later this month with extra unreleased tracks and alternate versions. A source reports Mick Taylor was brought back to help complete some of the new released tracks. The source said it couldn't confirm the rumor of Taylor's contribution but it wouldn't deny it either. Yes, Pops, I stand corrected, MT left after It's only Rock n' Roll (Aside: Isn't MT's tasty Santana-ish guitar on Time Waits for No One another jewel?)
Great information Jwong. Here's a question: I have two copies of this album. Both are stamped "COC 59100". One has the address at the bottom but only the one COC code, at the top. The other has the code at the top and the bottom, but no address; it has a copywrite warning instead. Both are inscribed "Rolling Stones Records" in the dead wax, but the one with the warning is a typeface inscription. The other is hand-inscribed. The typeface copy opens from the top and has a printing date--1971 with the "P" in a circle. The other opens from the side and has no printing date. One cost $100+. The other cost 99 cents. Which is the original? Are they both original but from different countries? Both sound excellent, with, maybe, a slightly better dynamic presentation in the typeface copy.
I agree totally with Audiofeil on this one, the MFSL version is one of the worst sounding and over rated lp's I've ever been duped into buying. The worst aspect of it is the absurdly low level at which it was cut, resulting in needless problems with surface noise. Even with a well cleaned, mint copy, you're always aware of a too high noise floor. There's no end of buyers who lust after MFSL recordings regardless of merit, so it was no problem to resell. The best sounding version I've found (not having heard the original release previously mentioned) is the English Virgin reissue. In any event, I've never heard any "classic" Stones release in any format that was sonically notable.