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Stones and Jazz?
This enigmatic knockout of an album was released to coincide with their approaching Martin Scorsese-directed concert film 'Shine A Light', yet is such an exquisite compilation that illuminates fantastically on its own merits, the Rolling Stones have made the best decision they could ever have deliberated with this eclectic stunner! - I would never have associated the Rolling roarers with Jazz, yet a lot of their country/rock is blue enthused, so doesn't betray their trademark sound, just electrifies it.
The remastering is done by the unrivalled Marcusson squad of Hollywood, who have made unquenchable engineering contributions throughout their twenty year history to bands like Keane and the Smashing Pumpkins, apart from their audio mastering services to the film industry. The album's full contributors are listed here:
Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Mick Taylor, Nicky Hopkins, Ian Stewart, Bobby Keys, Jim Price, Bill Plummer, Billy Preston, Jimmy Miller, Al Perkins, Richard "Didymus" Washington ("Amyl Nitrate"), Clydie King, Venetta Field, Jesse Kirkland, Joe Green, Dr. John (Mac Rebennack), Shirley Goodman, Tamiya Lynn, Kathi McDonald, Merry Clayton.
Exile on Main St. album, comprises of 22 live recordings, staged at the prestigious New York Beacon theatre in 2006, A 2,894-seat, three-tiered movie palace, synonomous with motion film pictures since 1926. This collection owes much thanks to music producer Jimmy Miller, a long standing associate and contributor to the Rolling Stones career, beginning with the 1971 Sticky Fingers compilation.
The first recording, is 1)*** Rocks off*** - a really soft, clear honky-tonk composition with euphoric drumming, there is nothing raw about this sound, just Mick's authentic vocal style that steers the song into any direction it wants, but has the same reliable stomp-beat as the original.
It contrasts suddenly however with 2) **Rip This Joint**, that is a Jazz and rock Jive, the tempo just makes you want to hit the dance arena and take centre stage. Bobby Keys, gives his Saxophone the best treatment he can gust in this track, that is sexy, stylish and authentically brass in every way.
Tracks 3) ***Shake your hips, and 4) Casino boogie*** are very American red neck, yet have a far more relaxed quality, you assume to be in for something pelting in the next raillery, yet are stunned to sit and be listening to something far more refined with 5) ***Tumbling Dice, 6) Sweet Virginia*** then to celebrate the reissue of Exile on Main St, track 7) **Torn and frayed** - is more of an acoustic folk and country sound, but with a lot more passion added to the entire rendition.
From here after, the rest of the shuffles go a little bit darker and deeper in places and because they will inevitably and still inescapably, be painful reminders of the past, though are not so evident as they are soulful ballads, not pain-infused squeals, the Rolling stones have never been known to allow their personal indifferences to get in the way of their recordings, even though there have been many public squabbles in their much younger days, the media delighted in exposing them as rebels, though nothing of the anarchy variety.
Exile in Main St, is not the kind of sound compilation you would expect to find leaping into the number one spot in the UK in this century, our generation steps into the chequered and composite past of the Rolling Stones, head-drumming to something that Keith Richards and Mick Jagger once feuded over the rights to this avant-garde peril, now the most sensational re-releases they have ever poured such solid commitment.
History has a new beginning with this long awaited bomblast, yet it is really difficult to understand Mick Jaggers lyrics in some parts of the album unless you have audio editing software on your stereophonic system, you can adjust the speed so as to slow him down to a reasonable stride. Once you get what he is singing, the meaning of this re-release album from their French exile years, will be that much more profound and meaningful if you are not listening to it just for its exhilarating effect.
Globally, this newest performance has received such unexampled applause of epidemic proportions, reaching number one in Norway and a quote of something like twenty top tens in other countries that inescapably include America, Canada and Germany. Even though the release of Voodoo Lounge in the mid 90s did the same thing, the cult following was different and because the Stones had rolled for a while, leaving more than a ten year gap between the two masterpieces. The recent furore is that much more electric, because there are at least 10 tracks that yes, have been released before, but that haven't sounded anything like these do. For non-stone's listeners, these creations that have sat in dust since 1972, will be a 38 year enigma!
Exile on Mainstream/Exile on Main St:
Exile on Main St, is not to be confused with the American rock band Matchbox Twenty, 'Exile on Mainstream' album cover, who could be accused of plagiarism due to its striking resemblance of title and released the year after the Stone's recorded this neat re-release . The Mainstream album comes from a different place altogether and refers to the wider principles of social ideologies (not) Main St, that is a about Jagger and Richard's British born identity, temporarily suspended whilst in exile in France in the early 1970s.
If you haven't heard this yet, don't be put off if you are not a Rolling Stones fan, because neither am I, but appreciate great music all the same. Surprisingly, It's not manic given Jagger's terrific vocal howls and whines, that in this album, are almost mute with all the cool-hip instrument paraphernalia stealing the performances and at speeds and heights, that make it the most exciting listening for the very first time.
This is probably the only absolute masterpiece of an album the Stones ever recorded, top-notch music from start to finish, a height they'd never reached before and would never reach again. Originally a double album, it's now 1 CD and 18 songs of some of the best rock n' roll you'll ever hear.
The main charm of the album is it's laid-back quality, it's mashed-together feel, it's slightly drugged but always infectious rhythms. The songwriting is at the highest level throughout. People new to this album may scan down the track list and think Oh, there's no hits here, it can't be that good; but the album works despite, and probably because of, the lack of hits, which enables each song to exist in its own right. And the lack of hits isn't because the songs aren't any good; they are.
The Stones show off their masterly of several styles on this album, from country-blues, country-rock, acoustic folk, electric blues, piano ballads, and plain old riff-driven rock and roll. There is a sweetness to all the performances. Tracks 5-10 are one of the best sequences of music ever released, one masterpiece after another and all totally different. "Tumbling Dice," "Sweet Virginia," "Torn and Frayed," "Loving Cup" - this is soul music of the highest order.
It's a ramshackle record to be sure, and if you want polished rock and roll, perfectly recorded, then this isn't the album for you. But if you want to hear the greatest rock and roll band in the world at their absolute best, buy this album. It is indispensable.
In 1971, the Rolling Stones moved to France because they were unable to pay their UK tax bills. (Must be tough having all that money, eh?) The Beatles had just fallen apart, and for a while Mick Jagger & Co really were the worlds greatest rocknroll band.
Exile On Main Street was originally issued as a vinyl double album, but unlike the Beatles White Album, with 67 minutes playing time, its short enough to fit on to a single CD. At first nearly everyone found it difficult to get their head round, but with hindsight it has since been acclaimed as probably their best. The groups three previous studio albums had been pretty amazing, but Exile possibly topped the lot. They certainly never sounded quite this good again.
Was it their White Album? In a sense, maybe. Having four sides of vinyl at their disposal instead of two gave them a chance to experiment more with different styles. On the other hand, while the Liverpudlians were fragmenting into a co-operative of four soloists who still sometimes acted as session players on each others songs, the Dartford boys had no such ego problems. In this case, it was more a case of enter the studio (hastily assembled in guitarist Keith Richards basement), crack open another bottle of Jack Daniels, and let the tapes roll.
There are 18 tracks, and one or two dip a little below standard, but theyre more than outweighed by the real 24-carat gold stuff. Overall, theres something endearingly rough and ready about the songs. It hardly matters that you can barely hear what theyre singing - if youre that bothered, several websites will supply the lyrics. No, this album is almost one long party from start to finish. Mick Jaggers voice may be fighting to be heard above the guitars, horns and keyboards, but it adds to the slightly ramshackle charm. The general feeling one gets is that several tracks just started out as a jam in the studio and just found their wings.
Hell, rocknroll ISNT rocknroll if you smooth out the rough edges.
Lets get to the songs, not necessarily in the right order. Press play, and the opening guitar chords to Rocks Off leap out of the speakers. Mick Jaggers exuberant Oh YEAH! promises one great long party in store. Cue more guitars, drums, Nicky Hopkins chunky piano chords, and the horns punching out an almost insanely catchy riff - it just works. Dont ask me to explain it further. Everything just tumbles out of the ozone and falls into place without even trying to.
In fact, several other tracks throughout sound similar. Tumbling Dice, the only UK single, is Mick swaggering and pouting as only he could (and did on classics like Honky Tonk Women), with sterling back-up from the female backing vocalists, and wonderful dual lead guitars from Keith and Mick Taylor. Time and time again Ive listened to this track simply to hear both guitars coming from opposite stereo channels yes, it really is that compelling. Happy, a US single, still gets played on the radio from time to time. Keith steps up to the microphone (Mick was away on imminent-father standby, though he probably overdubbed his chorus vocal on later), and although hes buried well down in the mix, its just so infectious that you cant but love it.
Rip This Joint is a rockabilly number that tears along at 100 mph, the kind of song to have you behaving foolishly at a party and singing along in no time, with an oh-so-simple yet wonderful sax break, and session player Bill Plummer on upright bass. All Down The Line is another standard Stones-style rocker, driven along by a punchy riff and Micks harmonica break.
The groups blues roots are revisited in a couple of cover versions, Slim Harpos Shake Your Hips, and Robert Johnsons Stop Breakin Down. Harmonica and slide guitar battle it out for honours on these. And theres plenty of homegrown blues, with Casino Boogie and Ventilator Blues, a mid-tempo jam credited for once to Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and guitarist Mick Taylor, who was a band member all too briefly. Turd On The Run (dont worry, the lyrics are just about indecipherable) is a kind of skiffley item with more harmonica, upright bass and what sounds like a washboard.
Alongside the rock and blues numbers, theres a helping of gospel and country. No really twee ballads, thankfully. Loving Cup with its Elton John-type piano chords, is probably the slowest number here. Torn And Frayed is a ragged mock-country weepie with lovely organ and steel guitar playing similar in mood to, but much better than, the better-known Wild Horses from their previous album. Even better is the majestic gospel-style Shine A Light, with Billy Preston on piano and organ, and the most wonderful anthemic chorus you can imagine. That huge chorus also lends colour to the mid-tempo closaing track Soul Survivor. And as for the shimmering, echoing lead guitar that introduces Let It Loose theres so much variety here that its easy to forget youre only listening to one group.
Sweet.Black Angel is a rootsy, mainly acoustic number, not one of their strongest, but sounds good enough in context. And the real oddball is I Just Want To See His Face, which with its bustling percussion and generally swampy mix sounds like it was recorded in a wind tunnel. Odd, but effective oh, just listen, and these ramblings will make sense, he said hopefully.
Best of all these is Sweet Virginia. Opening with a gently strummed acoustic guitar, it picks up momentum with some lightly-picked acoustic and bar-room piano and Micks drawled mock-country vocal, a saxophone well down in the mix (on first hearing I thought it was a kazoo a la Mungo Jerry, yours trulys long-time heroes), which gradually becomes a cheerily raucous singalong. It conjures up mental pictures of everyone standing round the piano, clapping in time and drunkenly joining in, not totally in tune but sounds like a good time was had by all.
Trying to put myself in the position of a 20-something music fan, Id probably find it hard to understand from their recent releases what the fuss was all about. But having been brought up in the old days (cue wrinkly voice), every new single by the band was an event, almost on a par with each Beatles 45. This album is packed with singles. If your Stones collection just runs to one or two compilations, like The Singles Collection (early years to 1971) or Forty Licks (an overview of their entire career), and you want to dig deeper, Id recommend you acquire this one next.
Amazon have it for £9.99 new, or the usual brace of marketplace copies for much less.
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Exile On Mainstreet, while somewhat dated, is perhaps the Stone's best example of the winning formula that has kept them so successful throughout the years. simply put, that formula is "less is more." I'm not referring to the number of songs,(it's a double album) but the song writing. though most of the material is simple in chord structure, true to their form, the arrangements and mixing are absolutely supreme. Add to that, Mick's talents as a lyricist are show cased as never before and perhaps since. throughout the album the stones stayed close to their roots, the blues, played good honest rock'n roll, added spice, and at the same time, made the "familiar" sound different. aside from the "hits" tumblin' dice and happy, lost in the shuffle are "let it loose," "soul survivor," and "ventilator blues." Among soo many other fine "simple" tunes. The Stones themselves keep resurrecting little known songs from this album on their most recent tours, (rocks off, all down the line, et. al). So if you are a fan, curious music lover, or just want something the "same but different" to hear, give Exile On Mainstreet a try.
They wanted to be American, of course - and how British was that? Originally inspired by American R&B and rock'n'roll and having recorded their last hit single Brown Sugar, in the Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama were so many great soul records had been cut. The Rolling Stones were by 1972, citizens of the world, tax exiled rock royalty. 'Everybody had started to disperse to their favourite parts of the globe,' Keith Richards recalled. They regrouped in the south od France to make Exile On Main Street, the only studio double of their career. The Rolling Stones mobile unit was setup at Richards' villa near Villefranche-sur-mer. 'We didn't just go to France and make a record,' the guitarist says. 'We took the family, everything. It was like Moses and The Red Sea. We ended up cutting the record in my basement, which didn't bother me 'cos I didn't have to travel, but at the same time I was trying to bring up the kids while living on top of the factory.' Isolated and with nothing else to do but work, the Stones were at their most creative. The music simply flowed. The sound that emerged was dirty, sexy, soulful, fucked-up and funky. Drugs were indeed taken, although charges filed against the band in December of '72 alleging mis-use of heroin and hashish were dropped when witnesses produced counter allegations of police intimidation. Exile On Main Street presents The Rolling Stones in all their ragged glory. On the sole single Tumbling Dice, over a riff that sounds like it just rolled out of bed, Jagger boasts with authority and not a little chutzpah, 'Women think i'm tasty'. On happy, Richards revels in his own bad singing. It was to become his signature. Shine A Light was a beautiful broken down soul song, while Loving Cup brings out the best in the Stones' friends, beginning with lovely piano from Nicky Hopkins and ending with some of the filthiest soundi
ng brass ever recorded. Tom Waits said he loved Just Wanna See His Face. He would: it's like one of his own, a mutant spooky blues shuffle. 'It was a greta album to make,' Richards concludes. 'I guess that's why it became a double album. And maybe there was even some premonition in there, that it wouldn't be that easy after.' The prmonition is right. Exile On Main Street was a dizzy peak which the Stones never again scaled. The group still had a good five records in them, but none could truly compare to this. Billed as the greatest rock'n'roll band in the world on their 1970 live album Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out- and forever after- The Rolling Stones were precisely that in 1972. This much is apparent from the first 25 seconds on Exile On Main Street, when Richards cranks up the honky-tonk riff to Rocks Off and Jagger purrs, 'Owww yeaaah!' Nobody has ever done it better.
I remember reading somewhere about Patti Smith saying that she would have killed herself, except she couldn't bear not to hear the next Rolling Stones' album. And when I listened to "Exile on Main Street", I knew just what she meant. Originally a double album, now on a single CD, it's not got many hits on it - if you look at the track listing, there's only the song "Tumbling dice" that will be familiar to chartwatchers. "Tumbling dice" is a great song, of course but there are many, many more great songs on here. Even though I know it so well, I've never been able to work out what the lyrics are on "Tumbling dice". Like most of "Exile on Main Street", the vocals are a bit on the 'muddy' side, and seem to be in the background, even Jagger's, but I find that it doesn't really matter at all. First up is "Rocks off", and is a brilliant opener, with driving guitars, growling vocals, and the horn section really gets things going even more. There's even some wordplay in the lyrics ("the sunshine bores the daylights out of me"). The influence of gospel, Southern soul, Dixie blues and boogie are all evident, making for a varied collection, but through it all it's the Rolling Stones, at their consummate best. "Shake your hips" is a homage to their roots, a very echo-y blues sound, abetted by Slim Harpo on guitar. "Stop breaking down" has the kind of guitar intro that really forces you to turn up the volume on your stereo - Keith's sound here takes off where The Beatles' "Get back" left off, but gives it a much dirtier, rootsy feel - as you'd expect from the Stones. There is a definite Southern US rock feel to the album (hard to believe it was recorded in Paris): "Loving cup" reminds me very much of Al Kooper - strong piano and drums, and at the forefront; and both "Torn an
d frayed", a sweet country boogie ballad, and all-out rocker "All down the line" both have a Lynyrd Skynyrd / Allman Brothers feel to them. Then there's the gospel-tinged "Shine a light" with sublime organ from Billy Preston. I think my favourite song is "Let it loose", which has wonderful blues guitars underpinning its incredibly soulful sound, and Jagger really gives it his all. I never thought of him as a soul singer before I heard this, but I think that on this song he undoubtedly is, and I have a mental picture of him hanging his head, drained, at the close of the song. At the time of its release, "Exile on Main Street" was criticized as being uneven, but listening to it now, I think it's one of the best albums from the Stones. Nobody does it better.
I find it hard to believe that Atomic Kitten has fourteen entries and the stones only have one. Why is that? With mass produced, over marketing bands finding their way onto daytime radio and MTV its easy to forget that if it wasn't for bands such as the Rolling Stones then modern music would be a totally different kettle of fish. Exile on main street is arguably the best recording the stones have produced. With Mick Taylor on lead guitar duties and no doubt copius quantity of drugs for extra inspiration, the result is one of those rare albumns that you can listen to from beginging to end without having to skip a track. Gems such as Tumbeling Dice, Torn and Frayed and and Loving Cup are perhaps some of the high points and are songs that everybody recognises but sound a lot better when listend in the way they were intended, as opposed to being on a car ad! The Rolling Stones during this period wrote songs that have been a major influenece on bands arround at the moment. New music is great but your collection needs this albumn as a benchmark to compare everyting to!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Rocks Off
2 Rip This Joint
3 Shake Your Hips
4 Casino Boogie
5 Tumbling Dice
6 Sweet Virginia
7 Torn And Frayed
8 Sweet Black Angel
9 Loving Cup
11 Turd On The Run
12 Ventilator Blues
13 I Just Want To See His Face
14 Let It Loose
15 All Down The Line
16 Stop Breakin' Down
17 Shine A Light
18 Soul Survivo