I will on occasionally pick an album from my record collection and share it with you. I end up choosing one side of the vinyl due to the commitment of listening to an entire album and reading a post that massive.
As I was nearing the end of my alphabetically ordered collection of old LPs I realized I hadn’t given the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St. a spin for some time, so I cracked open the gatefold, smelled that old attic smell and wrote my thoughts on this timeless album.
There is something about Exile that compels even the least avid music explorer to listen to it’s many sounds. The album itself has a great deal of mystery behind it with stories only Mick Jagger and the boys would be able to confirm, and at this point, after the excessive drug use, who knows if they could. Exile was released in ’72 and recorded in the years before in Keith Richard’s French villa near Nice, France. The villa was apparently powered by pirated electricity from a nearby French railway and it’s evident how much power was poured into each and every track. As a testament to its mastery I suggest sampling the first five songs on side one, but the album is classic, so don’t stop there.
Exile begins with, arguably, one of my favorite Stones arrangements, Rocks Off. This first track shows off the highly sexual and drug infused writing ability of Jagger and Richards, but of course Mick’s voice is just another instrument in the wave of sound that hits you. Piano player Nicky Hopkins keeps the pace and trumpeter Bobby Keys turns corners and surges the song in areas that need it, which are few and far between.
“I’m zipping through the days at lightning speed. Plug in, flush out and fire the fuckin’ feed. Heading for the overload, splattered on the dirty road, kick me like you’ve kicked before, I can’t even feel the pain no more.”
Rip this Joint reminds me of a song from a 1950s swing club on speed, which is ironic given the discussion is about the Rolling Stones. The brass section is very evident on side one, and the saxophone can be heard clearly here. The next two songs (Shake Your Hips and Casino Boogie) maintain the grainy, grimey sound of the album while still using what sounds like spoons in Shake Your Hips. The many talents of Mick Jagger.
Casino Boogie makes way for a song that is easily recognizable to the untrained ear, Tumbling Dice. The song alludes to a prolific gambler who can’t settle for any one woman. The best part of this song is easily the groove set by the slow and steady guitar followed closely by the backing singers reminding you that you “got to roll” them. Each time through this album reminds me how amazing Jagger and Richards were as a team, and still are, 40 years later.
“Women think I’m tasty, but they’re always tryin’ to waste me, and make me burn the candle right down. But baby, baby, I don’t need no jewels in my crown.“
Excuse me as I switch to side two and keep listening.