Exile on Main St. is arguably one of the most sensational classic rock albums of all time. It's an immaculate blend of soul, blues, funk and rock combined to create a remarkable double LP. This record represents the most truest form of The Rolling Stones "sound." It's an homage to the influences who inspired the Stones, like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, the delta blues.. There is something so natural and undone about this record, It's just raw, straight forward rock 'n' roll.
Recorded in Paris, this album developed in the dark, damp basement of the Villa Nellcote which Keith Richards and then girlfriend, Anita Pallenberg were renting at the time. It was the early 70's and Keith was in the depths of his drug usage, mainly heroin, which caused conflicts when he wouldn't show up for many of the recording sessions. Mick Jagger had just married Nicaraguan beauty, Bianca and would also frequently miss out on sessions. The villa was a sanctuary, an unrealistic dream world where musicians, drug dealers, artists, groupies, socialites, producers and children would congregate... a place where the beautiful people came and went at all hours of the day. Something many of us will never get a taste of. Not to mention this album features some exceptional musicians including Bobby Keys, Billy Preston, Al Perkins, Gram Parsons and many more.
One of my most favorite tracks is Loving Cup which features some incredible saxophone work by the late great Bobby Keys. It's hard not to crack a smile when listening to this one, with the loose piano and guitar work underneath Jagger's vocals backed by Richards... it's just a "feel good" track, for lack of a better term. It's a magical expression of rock with a bluesy undertone.
Here's a live video of Sweet Virginia from the tour that proceeded the release of Exile.. This was the Stones at their pinnacle. Jagger with his exquisite wardrobe, adorned with the tightest pants and perfectly feathered hair. Even though they were always dressed to the nines they gave off the vibe that it was all so effortless, as if they had just fallen from the clouds this way. THAT was 70's rock 'n' roll.. killer music, androgyny and the "cool" factor. Our very own Steve Slaton attended the Seattle show from this tour where a young Stevie Wonder opened up for the Stones. Oh what a time to be alive!
And lastly... I'd like to include one of Keith's only songs with lead vocals. Happy was the second single released off of the album and even entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number 69... I'm sure Keith approved.