The Rolling Stones - Exile On Main Street

2010-06-14 16:20
 
Exile On Main Street
 
A musician friend once remarked that rock n' roll was simply about a group of guys with guitars making uncomplicated music that made them feel good. If you expand that definition to include making the people who are listening feel good too, this is the album that defines rock n' roll.

Though the Stones by 1972 already had a library of great, even iconic singles, they weren't known for putting together holistic albums so driven by "mood" as Exile. There's hardly a corner of blues, gospel and roots rock that isn’t touched, slapped or just plain assaulted (with malicious intent) by the Stones' tenth.

Its remaster does it justice, too. There's so much going on in the corners of the sound spectrum on Exile on Main Street that it gives the recording a large-band, loose jam feel. Mick's voice is dropped far enough back in the mix throughout to feel like he's competing for volume – which actually works on this record; and as for songs:

Keef's guitars never sounded more enigmatic than on "Happy"; "Rip this Joint" is an all-out rockabilly blast; smell the sweat from the hot blues club lights on "Shake Your Hips"; the skiffle-esque percussion on "Sweet Virginia" could have been played on boxes ("Gotta scrape that shit right off your shoes"); there's even southern gospel leanings around the edges, and somehow the album stays within a particular drive – it's the sort of record you’d put on late one night (one side at a time – there are four), and simply go back to side one when you're done.

Exile's production context, its quirks and anecdotes are well documented: The tax issues that forced the band to relocate to France for a while, and Jagger all but dismissing the album upon release, saying he was less interested in paying homage to roots than in experimenting, and so on and so on.

But Richards seemed to be loving every minute of freedom afforded him by the fractured band schedules (the band was seldom in the same room at the same time). Yet another example then, of great albums coning from bands in personal and professional strife.

...sure it’s a drug record, but which great rock album isn't? So get a whack of whatever your thing is, sit down on the floor of your lounge with your favourite friend, and fire up the old – er CD player (hey, at least you won;t have to change the record). Plan for a late night of barefoot dancing, too. And the next day, when you're emerging from the haze, you'll get what Exile on Main Street is all about.

TRIVIA:
Keith Richards allegedly "encouraged" Gram Parsons to leave his house (The Stones were recording in it), because he wanted to not draw drug enforcement attention. Richards was a notorious heroin user at the time.

The Stones left England in 1971, allegedly because they owed more taxes than they could afford.

Jagger Married Bianca Jagger during production of the album, and was seldom at the initial recordings at Richards’ home.


Rolling Stones compilations seldom feature anything more than "Tumbling Dice" from this album. Ironic, both because "Tumbling Dice" could well be the weakest song on the album, and because 'Exile' is now almost universally regarded as a masterpiece in its entirety.

Zoot Galoot 2010/06/17 5:28 PM
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I am looking forward to hearing the sound quality on this remaster, the 3rd time it has been done. I own a remastered version that was done ± 1995 and it sounds very good. If this is an improvement then I'd like to know how they tweak even better sound out of the master tapes. Looking forward to hearing the previously unreleased stuff.
Ilan Preskovsky 2010/06/30 9:58 PM
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I have the deluxe edition and I can't recommend it enough. The original album doesn't sound noticeably better than the Virgin 1994 remaster, though it is somewhat louder but, hey, it's Exile. Rock and roll simply doesn't get any better or more unique than this. Though Tumbling Dice the worst cut? Seriously?) As for the second disc, it's really wonderful. These outtakes are frankly better than most of the stuff that Mick and Keith could come up with these days but to a large degree, it is basically a new Stones album. Mick and Keith and(if the rumours are true)Mick Taylor have added stuff to these off-cuts to make them sound more like fully fleshed songs. The result is terrific, making this basically the best Stones album since Tattoo You. We have a guitar-driven, more bluesy Loving Cup, a Keith-sung Soul Survivor and a great little instrumental to round things up as well. It is pricey though so shop around on the net for the best deal.
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