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Rolling Stones - Exile On Main Street (1972)

No surprises in our first essential Stones album. Exile represents the phase-two Stones at their leanest and meanest.

By now Mick Taylor was well established as Brian Jones’ replacement, far more than a mere understudy to Keith, and makes a taut contribution, as do all his bandmates. The result is an old-fashioned double album, 67 unmissable minutes, of thoroughly adult rock, underpinned by their longtime expertise in the blues idiom but strengthened immeasurably by a burgeoning interest in country music, especially on the bawdy 'Sweet Virginia'. Exile hits the ground running with 'Rocks Off', which is horny in every sense and still sounds pretty great on stage 40 years later, featuring saxman Bobby Keys then as now.

The album’s biggest hit was the mighty 'Tumbling Dice', while the pure southern blues of 'Hip Shake' is built around Mick’s ever-underrated harmonica playing, and there are some great keyboard features by both Nicky Hopkins and the much-missed "sixth Stone” Ian Stewart. This is also the one with Keith’s enduring 'Happy', and lesser-known delights include the twangy 'Torn & Frayed', the brooding 'Let It Loose' and slinky 'Soul Survivor'.


Rocks Off / Rip This Joint / Shake Your Hips / Casino Boogie / Tumbling Dice / Sweet Virginia / Torn and Frayed / Sweet Black Angel / Loving Cup / Happy / Turd on the Run / Ventilator Blues / I Just Want to See His Face / Let It Loose / All Down the Line / Stop Breaking Down / Shine a Light / Soul Survivor

  • Largely recorded in the basement of the Nellcôte villa in the south of France during the summer of 1971 after the Stones left England when their tax bill claimed more than they earned.
  • Ranked 7th on the Rolling Stone Magazine list of 500 greatest albums of all time in 2003
  • A roster of notable guests passed through the villa during the recording sessions, including William S. Burroughs, Terry Southern, Gram Parsons and Marshall Chess (who was running the Rolling Stones' new label)


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