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Rolling Stones Exile on Main St. Beats Gaga, Eminem, Bieber

Rolling Stones Exile on Main St. comes back around. Rolling Stones Exile on Main St. comes back around.
In these days of Lady Gaga singing about masturbation, Eminem shouting about relapse and rehab, and little Justin Bieber making weird girls squeak, it’s almost funny to see the hoopla surrounding the re-release of the Rolling Stones Exile on Main St. double album.

Before the original Rolling Stones Exile on Main St. was released in 1972, the rock press heard rumors that Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the rest of the boys had fled England in 1971 to avoid the country’s 93% tax rate on rich rock stars.

Allegedly, accountants for the Rolling Stones had “forgotten” to pay the band’s taxes, so off to southern France the Rolling Stones rolled ending up in a rented 16-bedroom mansion called the Villa Nellcote.

Perhaps the villa was haunted, given that it had housed Nazi officials during WW II. The basement where the Rolling Stones recorded Exile on Main St. was the same place where Nazis had tortured prisoners of wars and members of the French Resistance.

Of course, the Rolling Stones brought their own ghosts with them. According to legend, one of the ghosts was hung around the neck of Keith Richards- his canister of nearly-pure heroin which sent him to smack heaven so often that he reportedly nodded off in the middle of guitar solos, leaving the rest of the band to wait for hours to see if he would ever wake up.

Other ghosts lived in the bedrooms…. apparently attached to Rolling Stones genitalia. Credible reports indicate that band members engaged in a wild orgy of wife/girlfriend swapping, with sexual decadence the rule rather than the exception, even though Mick Jagger had recently married a sweetheart named Bianca.

Rolling Stones  Exile BandRolling Stones Exile Band

Exile on Main St. emerged from the allegedly drug-addled “leadership” of Keith Richards, which is one reason the album has a hardcore blues/folk/primitive rock feel to it, rather than sounding like other Rolling Stones albums where Mick Jagger and his vocals are much more prominent in a cleaner, better-produced sound mix.

Add to that the fact that the basement was too humid, lacked adequate electricity, had poor acoustics and was populated not just by members of the Rolling Stones, but by Hollywood jet setters, drug dealers and the 20th century’s most underrated writer: William Burroughs.

When it all came crashing down, the crash was vintage Rolling Stones- Keith Richards became a real exile when the police busted the villa for drugs and France told Keith Richards to get out and not come back.

But when the Rolling Stones and their management took a listen to the hundreds of hours of tapes made at the villa and found a way to turn the wild raw sound into 67 minutes of marketable music and a lot of money, they offered us Exile on Main St., which when released had a jarring collection of freak show pictures on the cover.

Today, in the dark freakish world of Lady Gaga, Eminem, Bieber and other wealthy “artists,” it’s somehow fitting that the Rolling Stones and their accountants have figured out a way to milk even more dollars from a much-hyped reissue (with shockingly weak “added bonus tracks”) of Exile on Main St.

All down the line with Exile on Main St.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 26 October 2010 20:12

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