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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, But Ultimately Not Particularly Satisfying, 4 July 2011
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This review is from: Stones In Exile [DVD] [2010] [NTSC] (DVD)
Of course it doesn't follow that a classic album should also spawn a documentary of a similar status, who's purpose is to uncover the background to the album. However, inevitably because of the greatness of 'Exile On Main Street', there is a hunger and an expectation that this DVD is going to deliver something equally rewarding. However, in a sense, this perhaps is a tall order, because the strength of 'Exile On Main Street' is actually within its music, and not within its storytelling. Needless to say, 'Stones In Exile' is nowhere near as satisfying a documentary, as 'Exile On Main Street' is an album.

There is a slickness, and an artiness within the way this documentary is directed, with its storytelling being overlayed with relevant photo's, and related video's, overlaying interviews by the members of the group and fans etc. which is informative to a degree, but the film fails to linger on what anyone has to say for very long. In a sense, style seems to dictate this documentary more than substance, although of course this film does touch on the basics, relating to the Stones becoming tax exiles and relocating to the south of France and recording in the basement of Keith's house, etc. The general mood of the times, and the almost communal living is also well explained, with interviews with the band themselves, as well as those associated with the group at the time, like Anita Pallenberg. The problem i have a little though is the fact that many of the guest interviewers who weren't around the Stones in this period tend to be geared up very much to talking about the myth surrounding the recording of the album, and the aura which has grown around this period in more recent decades, far more than any facts. They pretty much seem to be taken in solely with the legend of the Stones during the 'Exile' period. Conversely, the Stones themselves pretty much seem to be downplaying the period, and there's a strong sense that they aren't particularly interested in the nostalgia of it all. Maybe this in part is the reason that many important details relating to the recording are left out, especially that relating to the influence of Gram Parsons, and many of the sex and drugs revelations.

Those fellow artists interviewed, like Jack White, Sheryl Crow, and especially Will.i.am, in addition to the Stones current producer, Don Was, tend to trivialise things somewhat, and play too much on the 'coolness' of the Stones, and the 'evil' within their music, without really having anything interesting to say. They almost seem to represent the current celebrity obsessed culture, making the Stones perhaps appear more accessible in today's climate. There is a extras section dedicated to them, and it's pretty much the lowest point of this DVD. However, one of the features on the extras also provides the highlight - those of the extended interviews with members, and former members of the band. When Keith Richards, Mick Taylor, and Bill Wyman, are allowed to speak in extended form, without being woven into someone else's mold within the documentary, they are quite charming, and interesting, in a much more down to earth kind of way. Bill, especially, makes some quite amusing remarks about his fellow bandmates, Keith and Mick Taylor, and it's nice to escape the romantic, and iconic aura of 'Exile' for just a while. Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts also visit Olympic studios and Stargroves in an extended piece on one of the extras features, but this perhaps proves less satisfying, because their memories seem to be failing them somewhat! It is a fun piece though.

I think though, in retrospect, 'Exile On Main Street's music alone speaks for itself, without the need for this commercialised, and somewhat trivialised DVD release. The music influences within 'Exile' and the instrumentation etc. would have made for a much more interesting documentary. After all, 'Exile On Main Street', is primarily a great album, in a very non commercialised way.
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