Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Beth’s Music Moment – Exile Revisited

Beth's music moment6 It's been a while since I did a Music Moment! This time it's not about the body of work of one particular artist, but one particular album: the Stones' "Exile on Main St."

This past week, they issued a remastered version, along with ten previously unreleased tracks. And Beth is a happy girl.

I'm not a complete Stones freak. I don't have all their albums, and I don't pretend to know every detail about their music. But I've been a fan for...hmm, I guess over 30 years. That's retroactive, too, because I went back to their albums from the sixties, when I was really too young to know about them when they first issued them. (I got "Let It Bleed" and "Sticky Fingers"in the early 80's.) You know those memes that ask you questions like Mary Ann or Ginger, Batman or Superman? When it comes to Beatles or Stones, I'm Stones.

I've been listening to Exile and the new songs, and baby, I'm lovin' it! This is the Stones at their bluesy best. I have enjoyed revisiting this and other Stones music, because it's a great reminder of how much they're rooted in the blues. They loved performers like Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters, and it shows throughout their entire career. "Exile" may have been the height of their creativity, with a fantastic blend of ballsy rock and rollicking blues. The recording of "Exile" has become legendary. Keith's rental "house" in the south of France was all business in the basement where they made the music, but a nonstop party of drugs and sex upstairs. In a recent Today Show interview, Matt Lauer implied condemnation for the drugs and sex and asked Mick if they could have made this music if they were sober. He asked Keith if it was wrong to have his young son in such an environment.

I think Mick and Keith both gave great answers to these silly questions. It was a different time, man. C'mon, Matt, get real. It truly was a different time, and it wasn't just the Stones who were doing drugs...it was pretty much everyone who was making music at the time, including the Beatles, the Doors, Janis, Jimi, and on and on. It's useless to try to apply today's mores to that time. Lauer came across as a priggish schoolmarm. You don't need to glorify such drug use, but as Mick pointed out, it wasn't about the drugs, it was about the MUSIC. Put on your big girl panties, Matt, and stop judging people for what they did 40 years ago!

Anyway, whatever was going on in that mansion in the south of France, it resulted in some totally kickass music, and that is what matters. I won't go over the merits of the original Exile, but I'll make a few comments on some of the new tracks. I'm not sure how many of these were finished and how many they had to go back and "tidy up," but I heard Sir Mick say that they tried to stay close to the original sound of the Exile sessions...and I'd say that they did.

"Pass the Wine (Sophia Loren)" - a nice, rocking start to the new tracks. "Pass the wine, baby, let's make some love."

"Following the River" - starts out with piano, has a distinct gospel sound...this is a breakup song, and I'm not ashamed to say that I got choked up when I heard Mick's anguished plea: "I'll be thinking about ya, 'cause you always brought the best in me."

"Dancing in the Light" - a more upbeat song following the previous sad one...I love the line "I got that sinking feeling, whose potatoes are ya peeling?"

Mick Jagger My absolute favorite of the new songs is the shortest one, a brief taste of an instrumental. It's called "Title 5," and it is a total fucking rave-up! The preview is only 30 seconds, but the song is only 1:47, so you get the idea. Man, I wish they'd expanded that a bit, because I love that song! I had to do a little chair-dancing to that one: the Monkey and the Jerk. If you don't know them, I'll teach you. Ha!

I know that some of my friends feel that the Stones haven't made any new or relevant music in some time. I suppose that's fair enough, but that doesn't mean that they are irrelevant. It's still some of the best music ever, and for me, the Stones embody everything that is good and right and lusty about rock and roll. Maybe the guys won't get it, and I suppose some of the women don't feel it, but Mick was always sexy to me, with those weird, sinuous moves, his sexy baritone (hard and silky at the same time), and that bad boy attitude. Oh yeah, babe! And when they all kicked in with that driving beat and that hard-pounding and rhythmic bass and drum and...ummm, what was I saying? But yeah, they're smart, too. That's always hot! "It's Only Rock and Roll (But I Like It)" is playing right now. I like it...ssssss...I liiiiike it.

Bottom line: if you already love the Stones, you'll enjoy this reissue and the extra tracks. If they really don't trip your trigger and never have, I don't see any reason for you to buy this. I pass no judgment, because music appreciation is in the eye of the beholder. But seriously, what is wrong with you?! heehee

If you ever doubt that the Stones are badass, let's revisit a short clip of Keith meting out a bit of justice to an unruly fan. If I recall, this was the first clip I ever posted on my blog, so it has a special place in my heart for many reasons.


  1. I heard Richards and Jagger interviewed on NPR about the reissue. I was surprised that "Exile" wasn't favorably reviewed when it first came out.

  2. Though I would say I am a Beatles kind of cat, I have always held a spot out for the Stones. The line that you pick out from 'Following the River'... made me think of a lot of things, first among them being, a lot of songs use 'the river' as a metaphor in breakup songs!

  3. Don't you know they get really tired of the inane questions they get asked after all the interviews they've done over the decades? I, too, was a Beatles fan but am glad the Stones are still going strong!


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