The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main Street
by Tom Hughes-Faulkner
Well....this is it, not only The Rolling Stones' masterpiece but one of the greatest rock albums of all time. Recorded under very raw conditions at Keith Richards' French villa whilst The Stones were trying to avoid the taxman in the early 70's. This is one of the few pieces of The Stones' work were there is not just method behind the madness, but madness behind the method. This is Exile on Main Street.
Up until the end, every song on this album is a winner. No note or beat is wasted and all 5 stones, although working under terrible conditions, are on top form. Right from the driving, proto-punk of the opening track "Rocks Off", what follows is a fantastic string of unforgettable obscure classics, covering almost every great genre from rock n' roll to country, soul to gospel.
The whole first side encompasses everything that is great about rock n' roll, with the impossibly driving boogie of "Rip This Joint" (one of the stones' fastest songs) and "Shake Your Hips" coupled with the slow blues of "Casino Boogie" and "Tumbling Dice". The album then moves to a barrage of acoustic numbers that make it impossible to cry upon hearing them.
The slow country of "Sweet Virginia", the Hank Williams twang of "Torn and Frayed" and the heartbreaking subject of "Sweet Black Angel" (a bittersweet political song about slavery). "Loving Cup" is the perfect song for drinking to and "Happy" with Keith Richards on vocals is the ultimate "Keef" song with it's nasal, devil may care vocals and beautiful, aggressive guitar tone.
Side 3 is where things start to slow down and delve into the soul genre, with the exception of the fast country song "Turd on the Run" and the hard-driving "Ventilator Blues". The fantastic gospel jam "I Just Want to See His Face" and "Let it Loose" (possible the most beautiful track on the album and Jagger's finest vocal performance) will both break your heart and have you dancing.
Side 4 brings the album to worthy close and climactic close as if it's a rock opera without a story or cause. "All Down The Line", "Stop Breaking Down" and "Soul Survivor" will all have you dancing and air guitaring, and the gospel ballad "Shine a Light" about the former stone Brian Jones is a heartbreaking experience not to be forgotten.
Whilst this album is a perfect classic, it is not without fault, there are times when the mix of the tracks falter, but there are equal moments where all the instruments link together perfectly and create some of the finest two seconds of musical harmony ever put on record.
This album is truly a triumph in the history of music. A masterpiece that meant the comeback of the greatest rock n' roll band in the world, set them on the greatest string of high-energy tours that music has ever seen and became the standard by which all of their future albums were judged, whether they lived up to it or failed miserably.
It is an album that will prove time and time again that you don't mess with the stones and get away with it and has truly stood the test of time. Whether you're a musician trying to learn how to make a great album or a music lover that just wants something great to listen to, this album has something for everyone. It will not fail to disappoint.
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About The Writer
My name is Andrew Muller. I love creative art, music, television shows, movies, video games, and a good story.
If you had to find me somewhere, you would probably find me down at O'neils home cooking eating an organic sweet-potato bun breakfast sandwich with ham.
Among my friends, it's a "Muller Classic Move" to eat Mcdonald's at 2am because it's cheap and open 24/7. The joke here is that I'm an idiot.
I play drums, guitar, piano, and I write & perform music for My Goal Is Telepathy. Take a listen to the latest sound here.