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In 1971, to get breathing room from tax and management problems, the Stones go to France. Jimmy Miller parks a recording truck next to Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg's Blue Coast villa, and by June the band is in the basement a few days at a time. Upstairs, heroin, bourbon, and visitors are everywhere. The Stones, other musicians and crew, Pallenberg, and photographer Dominique Tarle, plus old clips and photos and contemporary footage, provide commentary on the album's haphazard construction. By September, the villa is empty; Richards and Jagger complete production in LA. "Exile on Main Street" is released to mediocre reviews that soon give way to lionization. Written by
Unexpected insight into the genesis of one of the Stones most enduring albums.
It was a surprise to see this on Australian TV. It was unheralded but worth staying up late to see the way that the chaos of Keith Richards life was translated into an album of rare if unself-conscious depth. I am constantly amazed by how good the Stones look in retrospect compared to many of their contemporaries. I think Keith is the key to much of it but the link between his ideas and Charlie Watts drums and Bill Wyman's bass playing is another factor that is highlighted here. Mick Jagger's casual admission of the cut and paste way that the lyrics flowed together is another revelation. Mick Taylor's input is of course a highlight. I would have enjoyed seeing him jam with the the other band members for a contemporary take on a couple of the songs.
I was particularly intrigued to hear the out-take of a song called Exile On Main Street at the end of the film. It seems to be a pastiche of bits of lyrics from other songs on the album.
A delightful peek into a world we all wanted to be part of back in the heady days of the early 70's and into an album that is dense with unexpected rhythms and marvellous slide and saxophone work and a great series of lyrics, made from the detritus of the Stones love affair with America.
The comments made by the band members and hangers on for this 2010 film are worth the price of admission. The Stones now seem to be able to poke fun at their youthful excess and their more preposterous behaviour and all without a taste of regret or pomposity.
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