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Following an album like 1971's magnificent "Sticky Fingers" was always going to be a tall order - but The Stones did it with swagger and panache. "Exile On Main St" was released 12 May 1972 as a 2LP set on Rolling Stones Records COC 69100 in the UK and on COC 2-2900 in the USA. It reached the coveted number 1 spot on both sides of the pond - and like The Beatles "White Album" before it - is a flawed and sprawling thing but considered by most to be a masterpiece nonetheless. And this fabulous Expanded 2CD Reissue/Remaster is only going to cement that legendary reputation even more. Here are the big red rubber lips, double entendres and three balls in a man's mouth...

Released 17 May 2010 - "Exile On Main St." by THE ROLLING STONES on Rolling Stones/Polydor 273 429-5 (Barcode 602527342955) breaks down as follows:

Disc (67:18 minutes):
1. Rocks Off
2. Rip This Joint
3. Shake Your Hips
4. Casino Boogie
5. Tumbling Dice
6. Sweet Virginia [Side 2]
7. Torn And Frayed
8. Sweet Black Angel
9. Loving Cup
10. Happy [Side 3]
11. Turd On The Run
12. Ventilator Blues
13. I Just Want To See His Face
14. Let It Loose
15. All Down The Line [Side 4]
16. Stop Breaking Down
17. Shine A Light
18. Soul Survivor

Disc 2 (41:12 minutes):
1. Pass The Wine (Sophia Loren)
2. Plundered My Soul
3. I'm Not Signifying
4. Following The River
5. Dancing In The Light
6. So Divine (Aladdin Story)
7. Loving Cup - Alternate Take
8. Soul Survivor - Alternate Take
9. Good Time Women
10. Title 5

Disc 1 has the full double-album compliment of 18 tracks while Disc 2 is a new 10-track mixture of previously unreleased outtakes and alternate versions. All songs are by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards except "Ventilator Blues" which is co-written with Mick Taylor, while "Shake Your Hips" and "Stop Breaking Down" are Slim Harpo and Robert Johnson cover versions. As with "Sticky Fingers", the additional musicians and producer (Jimmy Miller) added hugely to the power of almost every song and should be noted for it - Bobby Keys on Saxophone, Jim Price on Trumpet, Nicky Hopkins, Ian Stewart and Billy Preston on Piano and Organ with lady-soul veterans Clydie King and Vanetta Fields on Backing Vocals. Dr. John also sang backup on "Let It Loose".

SOUND:
As with the 2009 reissues STEPHEN MARCUSSEN (over 1000 mastering credits to his name including the "Alfie" soundtrack with Mick Jagger) and STEWART WHITMORE of Marcussen Mastering have remastered the original tapes and the sound is glorious throughout. "Loving Cup" followed by "Happy" are beautifully clear and "Tumbling Dice" is at last full and in your face. Most every track is improved - the instrumentation in your speakers with a fabulous live and shambolic feel. The acoustic and harmonica opening of "Sweet Virginia" and the drums of "All Down The Line" are superb. To me it's a huge improvement, a balls-to-the-wall triumph. Downsides - the hiss level on "Shine A Light" that was there in the first place is now more accented as it is on the frantic "Rip This Joint". Some despised the 2009 remasters, so this will be more of the same for them, but most I suspect will absolutely love it. Wish I could say the same about the presentation...

PACKAGING:
Very poor I'm afraid. The front flap and rear of the original 2LP cover are produced on the outside of the digipak (as they should be) with the inner LP photo spread reproduced on the inside of the digipak, BUT the original vinyl double also had two fantastic inner sleeves and a set of fold-out postcards. Only 1 side of the two inners is reproduced! That the idiots would not bother picturing the 'postcards' seems to be par for the course for Stones reissues these days, but that great shot of Mick & Keith at the mike with whiskey bottle in hand is missing - as is the "I Don't Want To Talk About Jesus I Just Want To See His face" quote on the other side - unbelievable! The supposedly exclusive 12-page booklet is different to all other issues, but turns out to be just black and white photos of the session and no liner notes whatsoever - none! The track-by-track details are now only bland black and white printed listings, which lose all of the inner sleeves magical artwork. It's an insult that this supposedly 'deluxe' reissue cavalierly misses out on crucial visual elements of the original release - it's hugely unimaginative and workmanlike at best.

BONUS DISC:
Although the 10 bonus tracks have the same original backing band - and despite what the track-by-track credits 'don't' tell you - it's obvious that the first 5 have had 'treatment' of some kind - vocal tracks added on/redone recently.

"Pass The Wine (Sophia Loren)" is an ok opener, but the track that sounds most like a genuine outtake peach is "Plundered My Soul" which is fantastic (it was issued in April 2010 as a limited edition Record Shop Day 7" single in the USA and UK). Best approximation is that it sounds like the B-side "Tumbling Dice" should always have had (lyrics above). "I'm Not Signifying" is ok, but hardly great, but there then follows a genuinely lovely ballad "Following The River" complete with the new girls giving it some soulful backing vocals (Lisa Fischer and Cindy Mizelle). It's far better than you think. "Dancing In The Light" is a jaunty mid-tempo song similar to "Hide Your Love" off "Goat's Head Soup". The opening of "So Divine (Aladdin Story) is closer to Brian Jones Rolling Stones circa "Dandelion" and its really interesting - Jim Price on vibes and Bobby Keys on some kind-of treated saxophone sound. There follows two "Alternate Takes" of "Loving Cup" and "Soul Survivor". Now these are far closer to what we want - "Loving Cup" opens with a lovely Nicky Hopkins piano refrain and suddenly it's "there" - that shambolic feel to everything - especially the guitars of Richards and Taylor dueling to the end yet complimenting each other so perfectly. Now this I will love. And then another gem - Keith carrying the vocals and sloppy stuff on "Soul Survivor" instead of Mick - and it works - and when that riffing guitar kicks in, I'm balling my eyes out and there are chills on my arms. "Good Time Women" is a forerunner for "Tumbling Dice" and is fab - rough and tumble as well. "Title 5" opens with studio chatter of "Take 1" and is a strange little rocking instrumental which kind of peters out, interesting but that's all...

Ok - so there's no live stuff and there should be (legendarily good), the "All Down The Line" Alternate Take that's on the B-side of the "Plundering My Soul" 7" single isn't on here either, which is just stupid - and the 4-track Excerpts 7" Flexi single from the April 1972 NME in the UK with song edits and an exclusive "Exile On Main Street Blues" track is nowhere to be seen let alone pictured either. But overall - I'm kind of shocked at how good Disc 2 is. I'll ignore some of these newer makeovers for sure, but those Alternate Takes are thrilling.

In May 2012, "Exile" will be 40 years old and Mick and Keef will be more Zimmer Frames than Glimmer Twins. But that won't stop this coolest of double-albums from being the absolutely business. I suspect the real truth about this 2CD reissue is far simpler - men around the world will see this digital temptress pouting on the shelf of their local megastore, feel a quickening of the pulse and a movement in their trouser area - and be unable to resist.

And you know - you can't help but feel that these two canny English lads already know this...

PS:
HMV in the UK have issued "Exile" with the digipak inside an exclusive card slipcase (Polydor 274 102-3). I've pictured both sides of it for fans.

The Japanese, however, have not surprisingly got the most desirable version of them all; it's inside a 14-disc box set called "From The 70's To 00's" which contains all their albums from "Sticky Fingers" through to "A Bigger Bang". They are all on the SHM-CD format (Super High Materials) and each has the original album artwork repro'd on one of those 5" Mini LP sleeves we so love (UICY-91558). "Exile" is included - being the 2010 Remaster version - and is in a gatefold card sleeve complete with its original foldout postcards and two inner sleeves.
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on 23 May 2010
although the music is great, this version is absurd. The remaster is compressed therefore the dynamics in the sound are gone. If you want it on cd, get the one issued by Virgin. 7 of the 10 bonus tracks have recently been overdubbed, thus making them sound like the present day Stones.

I bought the vinyl version of this album and the vinyl sounds great. The real bummer is the dvd however. Just 30 minutes long. With extracts from Stones in Exile. That 151 minute film will be released on dvd in June while it should have been included with this box set.

De yourself a favour, get the vinyl version if you want this remaster and be smart and but the dvd next month (should you want it) and get more value for your money!
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Whether or not "Exile on Main Street" is the greatest Rolling Stones album seems to this humble reviewer to completely miss the point. Good cases can be made for the wonders of "Sticky Fingers" containing some of their strongest songs, the arrogant strut of "Beggars Banquet" with its wonderful cover and then there is "Let it Bleed" an album which opens with "Gimme Shelter" and closes with "You Cant Always Get What You Want" which must have a fair call upon the crown. The point being that while "Exile" has stiff competition from within many of the wider works of the Stones its primary claim is that it is by far the most influential album conceived by the Glimmer Twins and possibly one of the most important rock albums ever. Get hold of a copy of Wilco's "Being there", Whiskeytown's "Strangers Almanac", The Clash's "London Calling" and even Springsteen's "the River" and "Exile" influences are all over them like a rash. That is not forgetting of course albums which are almost pay direct homage to the Rolling Stones 1972 master-work most notably Primal Scream's "Give Out But Don't Give Up", Green on Red's "Here come the snakes" and a large part of the collective output of Aerosmith, Afghan Whigs and a host of other bands.

What the Stones managed to "bottle" here was taking the double album format, infusing it with a shambolic charm and making their amalgam of country blues rock the template for rock music in the same way that Dylan's "Blonde on blonde" did for a generation of singer songwriters. Indeed both double albums could be distant relatives sharing a timeless quality which is hard to define but which is inculcated with a ramshackle quality and also an authentic experimentation combined with a devil may care attitude.

It is noticeable that most of the bands highlighted above are American and "Exile" is the Stones paying their debts to their musical influences from across the Atlantic with a vibe that seemed to transport a mix of Chicago and Nashville to the lazy and decadent surroundings of Villa Nellcôte in Southern France for recording purposes. The legends and myths which surround the recording sessions that led to "Exile" can be devoured in forensic detail throughout the music journals particularly "Uncut" and Robert Greenfield's patchy book "A Season in hell" . The "Exile" sessions were by any standards the ones which permanently ensured that the Dartford Temperance league particularly with Charlie's Watts's mammoth "Cognac" input would always be on a hiding to nothing. Neither at this time was Jagger the latter day saint we now know so well today and his description of the "party atmosphere of the sessions" takes the art of understating a fact to a whole new level. Indeed it was the introduction of the former Byrd and country genius Gram Parsons into the sessions as Keith's "best mate" which set the tone. It led to both of these iconic figures being pretty wrecked most of the time from a gigantic cocktail of drug taking to plain old booze which was supplied by a never ending cast list of hanger's on. But despite all this "Exile" is very much "Keith's album", he was clearly was the self appointed "King of the court" and it is testimony to his genius that these recordings from a humid recording basement in his rented villa often packed with a challenging coterie of followers, "ne'er do wells" and the notorious "les cowboys", turns out to be some of the Stones best.

As for the music, well you know the score by now. "Tumbling Dice" is my favourite Stones song bar none, "Happy" is one of the best things Keith ever committed to vinyl with its wonderful opening lines "Well I never keep a dollar past sunset, it always burned a hole in my pants" and the pristine quality of the version on here is a pure joy; you can hear the horns properly at last! For sentimental purposes I also still like to think that Gram Parsons might be singing in the background on "Sweet Virginia", love the swinging ballad "Torn And Frayed", the swampy "Ventilator Blues" and the deep gospel of "Shine a light". As for the new songs on this Deluxe Edition they are fascinating. "Good Time Women" is the template for Tumbling Dice, the alternative version of "Loving Cup" is very strong. Plundered my soul" essentially a new song and why "Following the River" never appeared on the original album in the first place is a mystery. That said why tamper with perfection? While the extras are fascinating and very important documents of a band at its creative peak they are not absolutely essential. What counts here is that "Exile on Main Street" has done more than most any other album to steer and condition the musical Zeitgeist for nearly forty years and long may it continue to exhort us in no uncertain terms to get our rocks off.
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on 21 July 2010
There's always been a vibe going around that you're truly cool and in the club if you quote Exile as being the peak of The Stones career. I don't agree with that at all. For instance Sticky Fingers, their previous release has got it all goin' on with classic tracks like Brown Sugar, Wild Horses and what's more the recording production is clearer.
Exile's still full of Stones flavour though and it's sloppy feel is worth getting into. Shame that Mick's vocal is often buried deep in the mix and with no lyric sheet provided within this deluxe edition you're struggling to work out what the guy's on about!
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on 15 March 2011
Exile On Main Street (Deluxe Edition)Exile On Main Street (2010 Re-Mastered)

Until now my Stones output has consisted of " Hot Rocks", " Rewind" & " Flashpoint". I tried getting into them with " Voodoo Lounge" when it first came out, which in hindsight was probably the wrong place to start, hence for many years i've avoided the Stones studio albums like the plague.

My mate was giving this away as he upgraded to the all singing & dancing new re-issue. It arrived this morning and it's now on it's 5th play!!.

The horns and total sleaziness of " Rocks Off" are worth the price of ten box sets alone!!. " Happy", " Shine a Light", " Casino Boogie", " Loving Cup" & " Let it Loose" are excellent. This is one of those very rare albums that glide effortlessly from start to finish. It would be very rude to switch it off mid flow.

Dirty, sleazy, direct classic rock from a band who were obviously loving making every second of it.

Sublime!!!!!
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VINE VOICEon 18 March 2015
The original Virgin is the best, this sounds awful!!!! Believe the other reviewers. The album was always muddy/intensive, but in a swampy way. The remaster sucks big time, hard on the ears and very digital..Avoid this version
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on 26 November 2014
I have bought the vinyl release in the hope that it would sound less harsh & thin than the CD.
But it isn't. Best avoided unlike you enjoy having your ears torn off by the harshness of it.
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on 3 September 2013
I bought this after reading some of the reviews saying it was well mastered. Don't believe them! I love this album, but I really can't listen to this remastered CD. It's harsh, it's so crammed up tight and just nasty. And it has the cheek to blame the old recording techniques for the distortion! Get an older version!
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The Stones’ ‘Exile’ album was released in May 1972, a year after ‘Sticky Fingers.’ The band had moved to France to escape the high tax rates imposed by the then-government in the UK, and most of the music for EoMS was recorded in Keith’s basement studio in Villefranche-sur-Mer in Provence through 1971 and finished off in LA (where Jagger reportedly took charge of the musical arrangements) early in 1972. The result is considered to be the Stones’ career-best, their magnum opus, and their most important album because its influence on global rock music was so enduring.

Originally a double-vinyl release, EoMS is a mixed bag of musical styles with an energetic underlying rock-blues groove, shambolic and imperfect but very good overall. On first acquaintance it can sound a muddy, incoherent mess – really, that bad. But persist: repeated attentive listening is likely to win you over as the music reveals subtleties and hidden depths. It’s a true rock classic.

Mick Jagger is on record several times saying he doesn’t like EoMS for several reasons, his most common complaints being that the music turned out “too predictable” in style – i.e. not experimental enough – and that the production of the original album was sub-standard, with his vocals too far down in the mix.

He’s right about the vocals BTW; apart from this, the 1994 Virgin release is an improvement on the 1972 original. The 2010 remaster is liked by some, considered ‘compressed and too loud’ by others – but you do get 10 bonus tracks on a second CD. IMO we’re still awaiting the definitive mix of EoMS (Steven Wilson where are you?) and are currently sold short by the string of mediocre and less-than-perfect releases of this great classic available up to 2014.
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on 20 June 2010
No one likes the Stones more than I do, and I love some of the tracks on this album, - Shine a Light, etc, - but for some reason I have never thought of this album as their VERY best. I even think Goats Head Soup to be very underrated.
I actually think Sticky Fingers to have better songs on it, and think of it as the finer album.
Just my own personal opinion, that's all. But am I the only person in the world to actually think this?
I often think so. So be it, we must be able to have our own opinion, not just follow popular opinion.
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