Stones In Exile

It’s all over the internet this week that the legendary Rolling Stones have released a remastered version of their 1972 ragged and glorious masterpiece Exile on Main St..

It’s hard, if not impossible, to overstate my adoration for Rock & Roll from the late 1960s to mid 1970s. I feel so strongly about the music from this period that, should I ever be stranded on that proverbial desert island, I’d choose as many live recordings from the Fillmore East as possible.

The Fillmore East was only open from 1968 to 1971, but those were possibly the three most incendiary years in music history, and it seemed that everything — the cultural revolution, adventures in mind alteration, the Vietnam War, racial tensions, and an explosion of inventive new music — converged at the Fillmore.

Meanwhile, back in England, the Rolling Stones were at their peak and released three magnificent albums — Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, and Sticky Fingers — in those same three years. And then, as the Fillmore closed, it was as if the transmission of all the turbulent and creative energy that had been brewing there made its way across the Atlantic to the Stones. The band fled England, where they were crippled by back taxes, moved to the south of France, and there, in the infamous villa Nellcôte, a sordid, often chaotic bacchanal commenced that almost tore them apart.

That the Stones managed to produce Exile on Main St. in the midst of this experiment in tax evasion and debauchery surely lends a mystique to the album, but the music stands on its on as a delicious, rowdy mix of blues, country, soul, and good old Rock & Roll.

Anyway, a documentary of the making of Exile has been produced in conjunction with the remastered album, and it should be obvious that it isn’t a matter of whether or not I’ll see it, but when.


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