2010 reissue of the classic Stones album housed in a super-jewel case (to complete ''remasters'' box set). Regarded as one of the greatest albums in Rock ''n'' Roll history and one of the most defining of the Stones'' catalogue. Upon its release more than three decades ago, Exile On Main Street innovatively wove varying musical genres, instruments and even artists into a compelling rhythmic masterpiece. The original 18-track double-album was recorded in various stages at multiple locations, including Olympic Studios in London, Keith Richard''s mansion Nellcote in France, and in Los Angeles where the literal Main Street influenced the album title. These atypical circumstances surrounding the recording process greatly affected the album''s outcome which was highly reflective and influenced by the sociopolitical turbulence that marked the late `60s and early `70s.
Before Keith Richards''s bad habits took over for a time in the mid-''70s, his work ethic was quite high. Stories abound of the long, if somewhat off-schedule, hours he spent working on this classic album in the basement of his home in France. Hanging together as much because of great songwriting ("Rocks Off," "Soul Survivor") as its fabled grungy atmosphere, Exile caps the Stones'' great 1968-''72 run with a force that belies their supposed spiritual tiredness. What some of these songs are about is anybody''s guess--Keith claims "Ventilator Blues" was inspired by a grate, while the song plays like an ode to a pistol--but that''s just part of this album''s hazy game. --Rickey Wright
From the swaggering frustration in the first song ("I only get my rocks off while I''m sleeping," Mick Jagger sings in the hyper "Rocks Off"), the Stones speed through familiar neighborhoods of country, blues, and R&B on Exile. They never even bother to stop when they''ve crashed into something. They don''t leap into new worlds so much as master the old ones, turning Slim Harpo''s blues obscurity "Hip Shake" into a harp-and-piano steamroller and setting spines a-cracking in "Ventilator Blues." Both "Tumbling Dice" and Keith Richards''s "Happy" have become hits, but the 1972 album is most notable for its overall murky adrenaline. --Steve Knopper
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