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The Rolling Stones “Exile on Main St.” (1972)

This is the shit! Inaccessible at first, this sprawling double album seems to emerge from its hazy inscrutability one song at a time (beginning with “Tumbling Dice,” of course, possibly the Stones best single), until, at last, you can accept the thing of a piece, which is, after all, necessary, lest you be left wondering what’s so great about a song like “Casino Boogie,” which needs its context to be fully appreciated as a great country-rock knock-off. This is only one example of the album’s textural complexity. “Rocks Off” is surely the greatest opening track on an album, and “Soul Survivor” the perfect close, summing up the mood of the whole with a great, lazy funkiness that would never be heard from the Stones again (or anyone else, for that matter). That on-the-verge-of-falling-apart feeling that pervaded Sticky Fingers is present here again, in spades, making Exile both a masterpiece, a casual pleasure, and my nominee for single greatest rock album there is. –Will

One comment on “The Rolling Stones “Exile on Main St.” (1972)

  1. Ramsey on

    Will… Interesting review and, at least for me, mostly spot on. I would argue that “Jumpin’ jack Flash” is the Stones’ best single but it’s all very subjective, right?

    I find that nearly all double and triple albums, no matter how good they were, were inaccessible in vinyl form. Maybe it was the work involved in changing the record several times, or maybe I just got so hooked on one side of the album (like The Beatles’ White Album) that I rarely took it off the turntable. I have recently discovered the magical wonders of George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” which, for me, was the most inaccessible multi-vinyl of all (if you don’t count “Trout Mask Replica” by Captain Beefheart!).

    Do you think The Clash came close to the ethos of “Exile…” on “London Calling?” “Sandanista” certainly inaccessible… whoah!


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