As magazines go, we’re not the most reverential towards “classic” rock. And that’ s putting it mildly. But the truth is, there are more than a few artefacts from the pre-punk era that continue to exert a powerful hold over our imaginations. One of those is The Rolling Stones‘ 1972 masterpiece, Exile On Main Street.
Sleazy, soulful, positively stuffed with unforgettable tunes – ‘Rocks Off’, ‘Loving Cup’, ‘Tumbling Dice’ – and featuring a stellar roll-call of guests, among them Gram Parsons, Billy Preston and Dr John, Exile On Main Street is without doubt one of the all-time great rock ‘n roll records. With its loving, rootsy deference to, and co-option of, country, blues, R&B and southern boogie styles, it’s also one of the most blatantly, unashamedly US-fetishising works that the UK has ever spawned.
The album was the Stones’ tenth.. It was recorded with producer Jimmy Miller, initially at London’s Olympic Studios and then at Nellcôte, an infamously debauched chateau near Nice that was reportedly the Gestapo’s headquarters during World War Two. Heroin was the drug of choice, and there was plenty of it; visitors to the mansion during sessions included William S. Burroughs and Terry Southern. Recording was completed in Los Angeles, amid escalating drug abuse and personal friction between band members. Upon its release, critics were initially hostile to the Exile’s unerringly “ragged”, loose quality, but time has proven the sprawling double LP to be worth a great deal more than the wax it’s pressed on.
On May 17, Exile On Main Street will be reissued in expanded format, featuring 10 previously unreleased tracks, including ‘Plundered My Soul’, ‘Dancing in the Light’, ‘Following the River’ and ‘Pass The Wine’, plus alternative versions of ‘Soul Survivor’ and ‘Loving Cup’. All were recorded during the sessions at Olympic Studios and Villa Nellcôte. The reissue will be availabhle in three formats: the original 18-track LP; a deluxe CD edition with the 10 bonus tracks and a super deluxe package that will also include a vinyl version, a 30-minute documentary DVD and a 50-page collector’s photo book.
To coincide with the release, a new documentary, Stones in Exile, will be broadcast on US Network television and BBC Worldwide. The doc charts the making of the LP, and features unseen archival footage, photos and interviews, and new conversations with the band.