Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A review of Rolling Stones' "Exile on Main Street" by Adrian G.

Great music albums allow listeners to know intimately the state of mind of the album’s creator at the time of the albums creation, through certain aesthetic choices and sounds.  However flawed this knowledge by description may be, fans are eagerly drawn to the intimacy with someone whom they will never gain acquaintance.  Exile On Main Street, the 7th LP by the Rolling Stones, gives a piece of the Stone’s minds in the early 1970s swirling with decadence, anger and sleaziness.  It is decadent as a double album should be.  The sound is murky, layers of guitars and barrelhouse piano.

The album barrows from many American music traditions, including blues, gospel, soul, rock and country.  The way in which the album drifts from one style to another gives the impression of a journey across America and a feeling of down-and-out, adrift homelessness.  The Stones managed to create an album with a tender soul.  Although the Rolling Stones did not innovate musically much throughout the years, not straying from their Blues roots, listeners projected their changing attitudes toward life on the Stones subtle self-expression.  I can imagine what it felt like to live in the early 1970s by listening to the album. The Rolling Stones play tight on the album, with no member standing out in the mix, each musician restrainedly adding a layer to the heavy sound.  I never understood why someone as flamboyant as Mick Jagger would want his voice low and buried in the mix, but it really works on this album.  Although not every song on the album is as clear or genius as the Stone’s earlier singles, Exile is an album that has a really special feeling. Check out “Tumbling Dice” in particular—it’s one of the best.

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