Absolutely Good Times Rock n' Roll. A must for all Stones fans.
0 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
There is only one
phredmurtz | Chicago, IL USA | 05/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The last (and greatest) of an amazing four album cycle that began when they turned their backs on allowing their musical choices to be dictated by a pointless competition with the Beatles, "Exile on Main St." is one of the most thrilling commentaries on the decay of 1960s optimism and hippie squalor as refracted through an thorough immersion in American music in general -- and the blues very much in particular.
Like many a masterpiece not clearly recognized as such upon its release, the details which brought the band to this creative juncture are as fascinating as they are unimportant (John Perry's "Classic Rock Albums" book in the series published by Schirmer/Macmillan is the best account I've ever read putting the Stones and this album in perspective). Whether you bought it on vinyl upon its release, on the lousy sounding cassettes and cds issued through the 70s and 80s, or are just discovering it on the current Virgin Records issue, the music comes out of an atmosphere of chaos and near disintegration and could get through to anybody of any age.
They WERE "exiles," living as tax exiles in the South of France; the tracks, mostly, were recorded in various rooms in Keith Richards' mansion using the Stones' now-legendary mobile recording studio truck. Ostensibly produced by Jimmy Miller, it's really Richard's compositional and production cri-de-cour.
The powerhouse tracks alone make this a great album: the magnificent weariness of "Tumbling Dice," the frenetic honky-tonk of "Rip This Joint," the ironic brilliance of "Happy" -- heck, you could spend a month just dissecting the bravura bandwork on "Rocks Off" from the guitar interplay, to the killer horn charts and Charlie Watts rifleshot drumming (can you nominate a percussionist for a Nobel Prize...?).
But the halo on this evil saint comes from tracks clearly not intended as pop radio fare or Major Statements: "Casino Boogie" is as evocative a slice of funk and sleaze as you can access without requiring penicillin afterwards, "Sweet Virginia" is maybe the Stones' greatest country joke, "Let it Loose" and "Loving Cup" are absolutely literate rock hybrids without peer -- they aren't melodramatic power ballads or self-conscious "story songs," just simply moving statements about love and life.
Yet the moral atmosphere of the album might cause some to fret: is this where it all started to go to hell? Does it celebrate the wasted, dessicated, creepy, drugged-out, intellectually and emotionally fragmented pit into which many 1960s survivors descended? Is it the cultural Detour sign directing the pop audience to swerve in horror and head to Frampton, Manilow and Kenny Rogers? (The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and Linda Ronstadt were/are also beloved of those refugees who sought asylum at "light radio," but are another story entirely.)
Like the Stones' tourmate from the time of this album's release Stevie Wonder, whose "Innervisions," "Talking Book" "Fulfillingness' First Finale" and "Songs in the Key of Life" also were far too complex and searching to insult with pitiful rate-a-record judgements like 'real good' or 'positive influence,' you have to take "Exile" on its own terms. The integrity is in this pudding with the proof, and it can't make a virgin or a whore out of you if you aren't one already."
Sludge filled masterpiece
James Romines | Athens, AL United States | 02/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This cd is a sludge filled masterpiece. It has a ragged, raw, almost "outtake" quality and it is unpolished inspiration in the vein of Neil Young's "Tonight the Night". This is the pinnacle of the Stones' run of 3 incredible albums (Let it Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile on Main St) from 1969 to 1972.
I remember vividly the Stones' 1972 Tour when they played alot of tunes from this double album set (Keith Richards sitting on a stool picking the opening acoustic guitar lines to "Sweet Virginia").
The unpolished sludgy blend of black Gospel, blues, and rock is far superior to the bloated commercialism that would mar their later albums. The music comes off as inspired, loose, and free as if they were just letting themselves just go. The music is also enhanced by a great use of piano, organ, and saxophone by sidemen Nicky Hopkins, Billy Preston, and Bobby Keyes. "Rip This Joint" and "Rocks Off" are 2 of the most energetic rock songs ever recorded. "
My favorite Stones album, and my just plain favorite album E
redwoodrebelgirl | Humboldt County, CA, USA | 10/25/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I think that this is the Stones' best!
An EXCELLENT mix of rock, rock and roll, blues, and country influences--this album is kind of a microcosm of the Stones' in general!
The musicianship is incredible, the songs range from naughty to poignant, and it is just hands down my favorite album (period) to listen to (I have been listening to it, almost exclusively, for weeks now!).
I think it is one of the best examples of the songwriting genius of Jagger and Richards, and the musical genius of the whole band (with Mick Taylor at that time [long replaced by the also very gifted Ron Wood]--a guitarist of great reknown even beyond his association with The World's Greatest Rock Band)
I think it will go (has gone?) down in history as one of the overall best rock albums ever!"