The picks are being discovered all over my room and I promise to display them in a more timely fashion.
Sometimes I get around to things at the speed of a glacier and that describes my relationship to the Rolling Stones’ classic album “Exile On Main St.”
The album was originally released in 1972, but just this past year was remastered and 10 new tunes from the sessions (three were alternate tracks of original songs from the album) were released. A friend played the new/old tracks for me recently and my mind was somewhat blown — I was hearing a brand new album from the Rolling Stones that had been kept in a time capsule.
Now, I can’t really review those new/old releases because I’ve just heard them once and it seemed like some were fabulous, and some were kind of slop. Yet, then again, a lot of people thought that same thing about the original “Exile.”
I will be buying (or attaining) those 10 new tunes very soon for a more careful examination. However, what’s really happened over the last month is I’ve actually discovered the original “Exile” for the first time in my life. Sure, I’d heard the album in passing over the years — including the tunes “Tumbling Dice,” “Sweet Virginia” and “Happy” about a billion times.
But, like I suspect may have happened to many people, I somehow never fully soaked in all of the original “Exile” and experienced its brilliance. I feel like a moron for having to admit this, but I’d been so steeped in albums like “Let It Bleed,” “Beggars Banquet,” “Sticky Fingers” and “Some Girls” and various compilations that somehow I kept missing the full force of “Exile.”
Perhaps when I listened to it as a younger person, my ears were trained to respond to the sound of the Stones on those other classic albums I just mentioned. “Exile” is certainly a much more raw, roots rock and blues record.
For the last three weeks I’ve listened to “Exile” almost nonstop and I can’t figure out why I haven’t been listening to tunes like “Rocks Off,” “Rip This Joint,” “Casino Boogie,” “Ventilator Blues,” and “Soul Survivor” all my life. I’ve heard “Loving Cup” a lot during the years, but even that tune, for some reason, feels like a rediscovery.
And, oh … my, let me tell you how I’ve been listening to “Loving Cup” recently: As loud as my stereo will allow, my hands on some flat surface as if I’m playing the keys, and I’m howlin’ those opening lines: “I’m the man on the mountain, come on up! I’m the plowman in the valley with a face full of mud!”
I even put my strat in the open G tuning and learned “Happy” (always my favorite Keith Richards tune). And I must say I totally agree with Keith, I’ve never gotten a flash off a cocktail when I get some flesh off the bone.
I’m so glad I can finally say with confidence, “Yes, ‘Exile’, a masterpiece, maybe the Stones best album ever.” Keith and I like to tweak Mick with a statement like that. But, my gosh, even if Mick Jagger wanted to make something a little less raw roots rock at the time, he sure sings the plaster off the walls with his performances on that record.
I love it that Gram Parsons was hangin’ around the shack in Southern France the summer this thing was made. Gram and Keith, now there’s two guys who like to have a good time.
Anyway, Dylan and/or Leonard Cohen and/or Jerry Garcia have not yet rescued me from “Exile” and I can’t wait to dive into these newly released tracks that I’ve only heard once.
I know Springsteen recently released, like, 800 songs and a movie he made during the “Darkness On the Edge of Town” era, but we all know that Bruce is a creative freak of nature. The Boss is from another planet, etc. etc., and I do need to check out all that new “Darkness” stuff, but new material from the “Exile” sessions is pretty cool as well. Almost as cool as those lightning bolts put down on a record called “Exile On Main St.” that had somehow eluded me for four decades.
Jim Dyar is a news, arts and entertainment journalist for A News Cafe and the former arts and entertainment editor for the Record Searchlight’s D.A.T.E. section. Jim is also a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding. E-mail him at email@example.com.
A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.