There’s something impossible and unfathomable about the Rolling Stones in this period, like DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak if Joltin’ Joe were writing songs about dope sickness and serial killers. Even 50-plus years on, listening to the Stones’ 1968–72 records frequently turns me into Jesse Pinkman, howling to the heavens “they can’t keep getting away with it!” Keith transforms from an ace rhythm guitarist into a full-fledged musical genius; Mick goes from a guy who preferred singing covers to one of the greatest songwriters on earth. Through it all, Charlie remains the center of gravity: On Sticky Fingers, tracks like “Sway,” “I Got the Blues,” and “Moonlight Mile”—songs so audacious in their depth and ambition they would have been inconceivable for this band only a few years earlier—only cohere because Charlie knows just how to pull them together, the perfect part to play, the perfect tempo, the perfect feel.
As I have said throughout this thread, being that Watts is pretty much known for playing with only one band in the Stones, to consider Watts’ contributions in context has to consider the Stones’ most creative and vibrant era. Of course this can be subjective to many, but say if you consider The Beatles debut through their psychedelic era, that’s a very stark evolution. Which also Ringo Starr evolved within.
The Stones were essentially a guitar driven rhythm and blues band, and having a different personality like Mick Taylor in the brings a different creative element overall, and IMO the best era of the Stones. I am not alone in that opinion either, it generally agreed upon even from the author of this article as well as several others.