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Psychedelia Online :: News


Classic Revisited – The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main Street

In 1971 The Rolling Stones fled the tax laws of the U.K for the scenic settings of their rented Nellcôte villa, near Nice in France, to record their magnum opus. This 18-track, double LP tied the Stones’ early Chicago blues and 1950s rock and roll influences with their emerging country interests (namely influenced by the great Gram Parsons who played piano for them a year previous while recording ‘Wild Horses’ in the sanctuary of Muscle Shoals). The end product marked such a collective sense of being, pin pointing a particular moment in time where they were completely liberated – from Allen Klein and the jaws of the British government.

I’ve always found it amusing that when staying with Richards and co. at the villa, Gram Parsons was asked to leave because he was a bad influence. To think, this angelic-looking, well-off, trust fund kid who wrote sweet cosmic country could be a bad influence on KEITH RICHARDS has always tickled me. But with the grievous angel out of the way, they were left to jive into speedy hip-shakers like ‘Rip This Joint’ and ‘Rocks Off’; maintain their roots of down-home steel-tinged street music with ‘Ventilator Blues’; and let their spiritual take on gospel marry their pop-rock responsiveness, with album highlights such as ‘Loving Cup’, ‘Tumbling Dice’ and the divine ‘Shine a Light’.

With a studio on-site, the band could record and play when they wanted. Perhaps the freedom and convenience of this picturesque setting assisted in the unrestrained work heard on Exile (none of that pitiable sonic procrastination, nit-picking at beautiful imperfections), they went in there and got it done - this was a rock record after all.

For this writer, it’s Richards’ ‘Happy’, with its abrasive and frayed edges that shines through, and with drugs on his mind he squalls ‘always take candy from strangers’. And I always have.