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Exile On Main St.

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iTunes Review

This 1972 double album holds a place in Stones mythology far beyond its initial release. It's the band at their most detailed and complex. The layers of sound take repeat listens to sort through. Mick Jagger’s vocals are often buried beneath the numerous guitar, horn, and backing vocal overdubs and the songs reflect their many influences. Straight-ahead rockers (“Rocks Off,” “Tumbling Dice,” “Happy"), dark blues (“Ventilator Blues"), country (“Sweet Virginia”), and gospel (“Shine a Light”) combine for the ultimate rock ’n’ roll night.

Customer Reviews

no better

This double album does not have the Stones signature hits, but it is the ultimate blues rock album ever recorded. No other rock album has such a strong relation to traditional blues and it is a masterful stretching of that form. This set of songs can be listened to over and over again and never seems stale. It is devoid of 'pop'.

Not one of their best albums

Not one of their best albums

It coulda been a contender

For classic rock bands, the double live album was an essential part of their discography. The double STUDIO album on the other hand was a different animal altogether. Keeping an audience’s attention over the course of 4 LP (now 1-2 CD) sides isn’t always easy. And the few that worked (The White Album, Physical Graffiti, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Blonde on Blonde, Electric Ladyland) are rock and roll classics. The Who actually accomplished this feat TWICE (Tommy and Quadrophenia). Unfortunately, “Exile on Main Street” isn’t one of them. “Exile” has always been a difficult album not only for fans, but the band themselves. In the book “According to the Rolling Stones”, Mick Jagger says that Exile is not one of his favorite albums, admitting that while the atmosphere of the album is good, he’d love to remix it as it has some of the worst recorded vocals. And he’s right. Half the vocal tracks sound like their buried under a combination of backing vocals and sonic sludge. It sometimes sounds like a badly recorded bootleg. And as gritty as they sound, they don’t work well in a live setting either. So other than “Tumbling Dice”, “Happy” and maybe “All Down the Line”, tracks from Exile don’t always figure highly when the Stones choose their set list. I resisted buying “Exile” for many years because of this, but also because ½ the songs aren’t all that great in the first place. If the band had wised up a little and sliced off about half of them they would’ve had the knockout punch to finish off the classic series of albums that started in 1968 with Beggars Banquet and through 1971’s Sticky Fingers (with the live Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out thrown in as a bonus). If this was possible, Exile would’ve been a much different (and better) album with only the following songs;
Rocks Off
Tumbling Dice
Shake Your Hips
Loving Cup
All Down the Line
Sweet Virginia
Casino Boogie
Rip This Joint
Torn and Frayed

So Exile isn’t necessarily a bad album, it’s just one of those Stones albums that should’ve been much better given the time it was recorded and how good their previous album (Sticky Fingers) was. It’s also one that now benefits from the “skip” button on your CD player or IPod.


Formed: April, 1962 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

By the time the Rolling Stones began calling themselves the World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band in the late '60s, they had already staked out an impressive claim on the title. As the self-consciously dangerous alternative to the bouncy Merseybeat of the Beatles in the British Invasion, the Stones had pioneered the gritty, hard-driving blues-based rock & roll that came to define hard rock. With his preening machismo and latent maliciousness, Mick Jagger became the prototypical rock frontman, tempering...
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