There are very few bands more notable for their success and survival than the Rolling Stones. After almost half a century together the band has seen its fair share of ups and downs, from love and loss to drug overdoses and arrests. In between the chaos they managed to make some of the finest records the world has ever heard and they don’t get much more classic than Exile on Main Street.When Exile on Main Street was released in 1972 it was met with some fairly lukewarm reviews, with critics describing it as “weary and complicated“. Nonetheless the album reached number one worldwide enjoying huge commercial success.
The album was heavily influenced by a number of different genres, mainly Rock & Roll, blues, Country and Soul. Tumbling Dice, the most successful single released from the album was noted for its irregular tempo and inconsistent structure with the length of the verses changing rather than staying the same. The song made it to Number 5 in the UK charts and Number 7 in the US. The single Happy, which saw Mick Jagger and Keith Richards collaborating on the vocals only managed to reach Number 22 in the US charts.
Mick Jagger himself admitted recently he would love the opportunity to remix the album
Shine a Light is one of the Stones’ more haunting melodies, telling the story of the band’s original guitarist Brian Jones’ worsening drug addiction and his eventual isolation from the rest of the band. Mick Jagger first recorded the song in 1968. After’ death in 1969 Jagger rewrote the song and recorded it in 1971 under the title JonesGet a Line on You. The song, heavily influenced by gospel and featuring backing vocals from a gospel choir is a truly heartfelt tribute to a talented guitarist with a powerful melody and beautifully revealing lyrics “Angels beating all their wings in time, with smiles on their faces and a gleam right in their eyes, thought I heard one sigh for you”.
Exile on Main Street will never be renowned for its production quality; in fact by the bands usual standards the production and sound quality was very poor. Even Jagger himself admitted recently he would love the opportunity to remix the album.
Despite its shaky beginnings and being so badly received by critics Exile on Main Street has been voted one of the greatest albums ever recorded by Rolling Stone and Q Magazine and has taken its rightful place in music history. A long way from the 1972 Circus magazine review which jibed “From the sound of things, the Stones weren’t exiled on Main Street…they were deported”.