On Friday, The Rollling Stones’ 1971 album, Sticky Fingers, turned 50. I’ve heard the record now, but, frankly, I didn’t grow up on the Stones in the way that many music obsessives did. Instead, I grew up on bands like The Cure, Death Cab for Cutie, and, of course, Blink-182. For a sizeable chunk of my adoloescence, Enema of the State was my favorite album, and in many ways I consider it one of the definitive records of my middle-school experience. Ultimately, this means that a lot of music I hear is subconsciously compared to Blink-182, whether I want that to happen or not.
The other day, I made a stupid Tweet that likened Sticky Fingers to Blink’s Enema of the State, which for some inane reason I think is the Sticky Fingers of pop-punk. This is something that I’ve always felt at a base level since I first heard Sticky Fingers. But that’s likely because I grew up on Enema of the State whereas most music fans probably grew up on bands like The Beatles and The Stones. Thankfully, some people shared their agreement and didn’t bully me, but this mystery was still left unanswered. After deep and serious deliberation, I’ve come up with five unequivocal reasons why these two very different records feel so similar to me.
1. Both Are Juvenile
Now you could argue that Enema of the State is exponentially more juvenile than Sticky Fingers, and you would be completely right. This is an album from a band with songs about blow jobs, bedding your mom, and straight-up bestiality. Although the Stones aren’t quite so crude, they’re still pretty raunchy. Even aside from the music, Andy Warhol’s vinyl packaging allows you to unzip the zipper on the cover. Also, both of those album covers tell you all you need to know.
2. Both Are Classics in Their Genres
The Stones released classic albums before Sticky Fingers (i.e. Let It Bleed, Aftermath, etc.), but I would argue that they were at their height with Sticky Fingers, and it certainly felt like more of an event because it had been two years since Let It Bleed. Considering the time period, that was a long gap in between LPs. In a similar fashion, Blink-182 had a two-year gap in between Dude Ranch and its much more culturally impactful follow-up. The Stones had hits like “Bitch” and “Brown Sugar” (more on that second song later), and Blink had “All the Small Things” and “What’s My Age Again?” Each band achieved an impressive amount of ubiqiuity with their respective albums.
3. Both Are Among the Band’s Best Work
Though some would argue that Exile on Main St. is the best Stones record, there are hordes who would give the title to its predecessor. The same could be said for Blink-182 with their self-titled and Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. Those albums are popular and contain some of their best songs, but so does Enema. This plays into the second point, as well, but it’s also worth mentioning that they’re classics for a reason. Each record showcases these bands in some of their best lights.
4. Some of Their Lyrics Have Aged Poorly
Back to “Brown Sugar.” Mick Jagger himself has said that he would never write this song today, and he was tackling as many “nasty subjects” as he could. He wrote the song in 45 minutes, and it contains some fairly terrible lyrics that objectify Black women. Blink’s Enema opener “Dumpweed” (“I need a girl that I can train”) and “The Party Song” (“Some girls try too hard”) haven’t aged too well. The latter plays out like a dude saying, “I think you actually look better WITHOUT makeup!!” So not great.
5. New Band Members
Although guitarist Mick Taylor contributed to Let It Bleed, he didn’t make his first appearance as a proper band member until Sticky Fingers, and his playing is all over this record. In a similar vein, Travis Barker made his grand entrance on Enema, replacing Scott Raynor permanently. Both play virtuosically on their albums, especially Barker, who’s still the best drummer in pop-punk. His performances on “Aliens Exist” and “Dumpweed” are particulary astounding.
Anyway, this article started out as a stupid Tweet, so this is going to be on the shorter side. I wanted to explore why I’ve connected these two albums that feel so disconnected from each other. I’m sure there are other reasons I didn’t include here (their evocative album art, for starters), but some of those reasons could be stretches while some are simply too obvious. As always, thanks for reading, and follow me on Twitter @grantsharpies.