Record of the Day: Rolling Stones, "Exile on Main Street"

Record of the Day: Rolling Stones, “Exile on Main Street”

Rolling Stones
Exile on Main Street (Cd Rolling Stones Records/Virgin 39503-2)

Let’s kick this January through the energy of rock and blues, the undisputed protagonists of the masterpiece “Exile on Main Street” published by the Rolling Stones in 1972 and the authentic summation of their entire musical experience up to that point.
Recorded with his own mobile studio in conditions of total anarchy at Keith Richards’ home in Nellcote, France, in
an atmosphere full of tensions often amplified by the immoderate use of alcohol and drugs (which in recent years reached paroxysmal levels in the case of Richards, in the throes of authentic self-destructive fury) “Exile on Main Street” remains an unsurpassed testimony to the importance of the band thanks to an explosive mixture of styles ranging from pure rock to boogie, from country to gospel.

Every influence that Jagger and Richards have absorbed since they listened to Chuck Berry’s first 45s together reappears in a dirty, bloated dimension, supported by a general sound with an opiate stupor and the flavor of smoke and whiskey.
Instruments and voices tell us of marginalized existences, banished by society, desperate vagabonds with discarded clothes who
they survive by playing the guitar: the same deformed and grotesque humanity observed in Robert Frank’s photographic collage that appears on the album cover.

Never like this time have the Stones been able to reach the intensity of the blues musicians to whom they have always referred and who acted as their mentors; pages like “Turd on the Run”, “Shake Your Hips”, “I Just Wanna See His Face”, are truly worthy of John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters, just as the cover of Robert Johnson’s classic “Stop Breaking Down” sparkles “, the boogie of “Rip This Joint”, the desperation of “Ventilator Blues” (the only song also attributed to guitarist Mick Taylor, whose blues-soaked sound indelibly marks the entire album).

There are also melancholic ballads (“Torn&Frayed”, “Let It Loose”) that the Stones have rarely covered despite being among their most beautiful songs and perfectly framing a fundamental album.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.