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Legendary as it may be, Exile on Main St. presents a challenge for deluxe remastered reissues. Much of its myth lies in its murk, how its dense, scuzzy sound is the quintessential portrait of rock stars in decadent isolation, the legend bleeding into its creation so thoroughly it is impossible, and unnecessary, to separate one from the other. Without this nearly tactile sound, Exile wouldn't be Exile, so remastering the record is a tricky business because it should not be too clean. The remaster on the 2010 reissue -- available in a myriad of editions containing variations of a single-disc remaster and a second disc expanded with ten unreleased tracks - doesn't quite avoid that trap. When "Rocks Off" kicks off the record, what was previously dulled like aged silver is now is too bright: Mick Jagger's vocals leap and the keyboards ring clearly. Because this is Exile on Main St., a record recorded in a decaying French mansion, it's impossible to scrape all the grime away from its layers, but the overall impression is that the original master tapes are now presented in high definition: it's possible to hear what most individual instruments are doing on each track, which may lead for a greater appreciation of the Stones' monumental musicianship, but it's somewhat at the expense of the album's mystique. Another pitfall in the plans for this deluxe expansion: there aren't a whole lot of completed unreleased songs. The Stones had a habit of working leftovers from the prior album into a finished product, sometimes taking years to complete a song -- a practice that resulted in great songs but not much left in the vaults. Which isn't to say there was nothing left behind from Exile's sessions: the Stones were living where they were recording, so they produced an enormous amount of music, working out the kinks in a song (represented here by alternate takes of "Loving Cup" and a Keith Richards-sung "Soul Survivor"), or wholly reworking an existing song as they did with the loose-limbed "Good Time Women," which was later revised as "Tumbling Dice." On occasion, they completed a song that didn't make the cut, such as "I'm Not Signifying," a heavily bootlegged shambolic blues that is just about as good as anything on the finished album, but usually they created instrumental beds designed to be completed later with vocals. In this particular case, a handful of these tracks were completed much, much later, with the band finishing up the songs some 38 years later for this deluxe edition. A great deal of attention was paid to making the new additions relatively seamless, with the band going so far as to bring in the long-departed guitarist Mick Taylor for some overdubs. If the end results don't quite feel as thick as Exile, they nevertheless do feel remarkably like the classic Taylor era. Apart from "Following the River" -- a drowsy piano ballad that tries to rouse itself to blues-gospel -- these are good, sometimes excellent songs, particularly the loose, hip-shaking "Dancing in the Light" and the charging "Plundered My Soul." At first it's hard not to stare at these hybrid tracks with skepticism, particularly because they're eating up room that could have been used for other alternate takes, or perhaps the instrumentals themselves, or the occasional bootlegged song that didn't make the cut, such as "Blood Red Wine," but once that suspicion fades, you're left with a handful of very good additions to the Stones songbook -- songs that don't hold a candle to Exile but are remarkable re-creations of Taylor-era rock & roll, songs that could easily have been slid onto It's Only Rock 'N Roll, when the group was easing into their grooves, confident that they were the greatest rock & roll band on earth.
Performance CreditsRolling Stones Primary Artist
Mick Jagger Guitar,Harmonica,Percussion,Harp,Vocals
Billy Preston Organ,Piano
Mick Taylor Bass,Guitar
Charlie Watts Drums
Nicky Hopkins Piano
Clydie King Background Vocals
Jim Price Organ,Trombone,Trumpet
Bill Wyman Bass
Jimmy Miller Percussion,Drums
Paul Buckmaster Strings
Venetta Fields Background Vocals
Shirley Goodman Background Vocals
Bobby Keys Percussion,Saxophone
Jerry Kirkland Background Vocals
Kathi McDonald Background Vocals
Amyl Nitrate Marimbas
Perkins Steel Guitar
Keith Richards Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Piano,Vocals
Ian Stewart Piano
Dr. John Background Vocals
Barry Plummer Bass,Upright Bass,Standup Bass
Joe Green Background Vocals
Kendrew Lascelles Dialogue
Tammi Lynn Background Vocals
Technical CreditsSlim Harpo Composer
Mick Jagger Composer
Mick Taylor Composer
Jimmy Miller Producer
Robert Frank Concept,Cover Photo
Glyn Johns Engineer
Andy Johns Engineer
Robert Johnson Composer
James Moore Composer
Keith Richards Composer
Norman Seeff Direction
Joe Zaganno Engineer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
MY FRIEND BOUGHT THIS 4 ME FOR MY BIRTHDAY AND TOLD ME IT WAS THE BEST ROCK N ROLL ALBUM EVER MADE. WELL, WHEN I LISTENED TO IT I WAS LIKE, I DON'T THINK SO! THIS IS VERY OVERRATED, AND I WOULDN'T RECOMMEND IT TO U OR ANY1 ELSE. THERES MUCH BETTER ROCK N ROLL AROUND LIKE AVRIL LAVIGNE OR ASHLEY SIMPSON OR KELLY CLARKSON. THOSE GIRLS HAVE REAL ROCK N ROLL ATTITUDE!
What a great album from start to finish. Every cut a true classic!
This has got to be the Rolling Stones' greatest album ever. Loaded full of creativity and pure music, it's just plain great listening. It includes songs like Happy, the most infamous Keith song, and the exciting Rocks Off. The countryesque Sweet Virginia is also a mellow masterpiece, along with Tumbling Dice. In fact, every song on this masterful CD is wonderful.
I'm not a huge Stones fan, but even I can hear the sheer mastery of this album. It works because it takes the best elements of the Stones' sound - the bluesiness, weariness and attitude - to a logical extreme. The close to 70 minutes of rambling, rock 'n roll riffing tends to bleed together into a murky whole, with Jagger's vocals coming up through the ventilator and the entire band sounding like they're playing in a dim, dreary bar. And that's not a bad thing. This record succeeds not only through good songwriting but also its gloomy production, and it's a must-have for rock fans.
A classic...Rock & Roll at its best..a must have cd for any true fan of the Stones and Rock & Roll.
This is perhaps the greatest record ever made. This record has blues, country, rock-n-roll, soul, it has it all. It has the full spectrum from a simple harmonica to a full brass band. The lyrics and vocals only add to the greatness of the record. It is a great record to sing to, dance to, jam to, or just mellow out to. Not to mention drive to...the best. Loving Cup- perhaps the greatest
You want evidence of how unbelievably fantastic the Rolling Stones used to be, then listen to all four and a half minutes of 'Rocks Off', which is more or less the finest rock and roll song ever. Baffliingly underrated and never to be seen on any best of compilations, this song renders the last twenty or so years of Stones songs utterly redundant. Good thing is, the rest of Exile on Main Street is top dollar too, the kind of music that the White Stripes wished they could surpass but just can't manage to do . Maybe that's cos the Stones had the kind of chemistry that other bands can only dream of, and at their best, they rocked like no other band in terms of producing straight, flat-out, good ole fashioned rock. Yet this isn't mere Status Quo rock. Even though Exile is one of the purest expressions of rock n roll in the history of music, it nevertheless is a giant, sprawling, consistently surprising, versatile and thrilling record. 'Happy' is the definitive Keef song, while the country influences reached their peak on beauties like 'Sweet Virginia' and 'Torn and Frayed'. 'Loving Cup' and 'Let it Loose' are absolutely gorgeous, and songs like' Tumbling Dice' and 'Soul Survivor' are gloriously sloppy, drunk barrroom classics. Mick Jagger's vocals are fantastic, and the interplay between Keith Richards and Mick Taylor threatens to eclipse the outstanding work they performed on Sticky Fingers. A immensely enjoyable album, it's easy to say they went immediately downhill after this, which isn't true: Goats Head Soup is utterly fantastic and their last true classic, and Tattoo You is one of the best examples ever of a band pulling back the reins and doing what they do best, in other words, stuff that sounds like the older stuff. Exile is a total mess, and it may put off those who want the more concise likes of the single Stones album (this was originally a double LP), but it's a real grower, and it has atmosphere and good time vibes just oozing from all of its pores. Just listen to the ecastic and utterly sleazy outro to the divine Loving Cup for immediate results.
As far as rock and roll albums go, only Bob Dylan's mid-60's work rivals Exile on Main Street. The Stones had already made three albums that were just as good as this (Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers), but Exile was the last of that quartet of albums, and it is probably the one that defines the Stones the best. I have never heard a rock album that has such a great ambiance and gritty production as this does. As far as double albums go, it rocks infinitely harder than The Clash's infinitely over-rated London Calling, is a lot more fun than Zeppelin's Physical Graffitti, and is on par with Dylan's magnum-opus Blonde on Blonde. Not long after this, the Stones ceased being rockers and became slick professionals. But the past 32 years of mediocority and embarresment to their hardcore fans can't erase the fact that, from the years 1965 to 1972, their was simply no other band who combined songwriting and instrumental prowess as brilliantly as the Stones. And they rocked hard then, too.
If you don't have this Stones album, you must buy it quick, because it is the best Stones album ever made!!
Absolutly the must have for any rock lover. This double album(!)on vynil, has every quality and influences that any recorded tracks should have, including the Beatles' LHCB. Soul, rock and basic all around virtuoso makes this the best album ever made. Some of it will be lost on cd because of it's size. Original vynil will be larger with it's postcards and stuff! It Is larger then any other vynil by the way.
Keith Richards' lazy, heroin-laced riffs come together with Mick Jagger's slurred vocals to create possibly the greatest rock and roll album ever. Combining rock, country, blues, soul, and the Rolling Stones' own special touches, Exile comes together to reflect the decadent lives and passionate emotions the Stones were experiencing, as well as the volatile political and social turmoil of the times. The Stones, having just fled England to avoid British tax laws recorded this album in the elaborate, yet poorly ventilated (Ventilator Blues) basement of Keith Richards' French villa. Almost recreating a feeling of heat and humidity permeating the room through the swastika-shaped vents of the building, the guitar licks of this album come across with a warm, soft sound that feels as though it could be molded as easily as butter. The lyrics, intentionally buried admist the tracks of these warm guitars, the steady rhythm section, and the horns that were just becoming part of the Rolling Stones' songwriting process are intelligent and emotional. They do an accurate job of describing the lives of the Rolling Stones (who were staying nearby several casinos, thus Tumbling Dice and Casino Boogie) as well as those of anyone alive and young at the time (Rip this Joint). Happy, sung by Keith Richards, who also played guitar and bass on the track, is almost an autobiography and is a testament to Keith's singing ability (while in school Keith was a star chorister who was chosen to sing at Queen Elizabeth II's coronation). Mick Taylor, brilliant as always, displays his ability and preference for the blues on many of the tracks. Overall, Exile on Main Street sounds very sincere and inspired. The climax of a brilliant mid-period for the Stones, beginning with Beggar's Banquet, this album is probably the Stones' best work and is essential to any Stones fan, or anyone who is interested in them.