I previously opined (on April 23) that Sticky Fingers was one of the greatest rock albums of all time. Add Exile On Main Street (released May 12, 1972) to that list. The double album includes tracks the Rolling Stones recorded over four years, some from the Sticky Fingers sessions in England (early 1970 to ‘71), some from a trip to Los Angeles in early 1972, a few leftovers from as far back as 1968, and many from over six months of drug- and liquor-induced work at guitarist Keith Richards’ chateau-turned-party-house in southern France starting in mid-1971.
Exile On Main Street owes a good part of its existence to British taxing authorities. For reasons beyond this scope, the Stones accumulated more taxes than they could pay in the U.K. by early 1971. Choosing to flee across the Channel (and still further south) and start afresh, they reconnoitered at Richards’ vacation palace on the French Riviera. Of course, buried below the booze and stash in their baggage was their unparalleled ability to create the best hard rock, raunchy blues-rock and pure rock ‘n roll music the world has known. After several months on the Riviera scene, the result was one finished track (“Happy”) and a box of raw takes that would become Exile On Main Street when the Stones resumed recording in L.A. in early 1972.
Exile On Main Street is ragged and frayed and gloomy – pure Stones from the 70s. It’s a masterful blend of rock ‘n’ roll, blues, country and soul, fueled by booze and drugs and life in the fast lane. Downloads for mp3 players and CD purchases are on Amazon, and iPod downloads are on iTunes. Two Stones’ playlists are in the Playlist Vault.