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Looking at ‘Exile’

Looking at 'Exile'

I’ve been listening to the Rolling Stones’ classic 1972 album, Exile on Main Street, over and over. Walking up Bedford Avenue in my new Brooklyn neighborhood, it provides the perfect soundtrack to a world of simultaneous calm and chaos. Of course, as any rock mythologist knows, the album itself was recorded in a combination of calm and chaos. The band relocated to a villa in the South of France to make the album, primarily because they owed the English government unpaid taxes. What ensued was a summer of debauchery and drug use, included regular visitors who didn’t help keep matters as calm as the serene location. Somewhere, and somehow, the band crafted what is regarded as one of the greatest rock albums ever made. There are better, richer histories about the making of the album (including Stephen Kijak’s new documentary Stones in Exile, which will premiere at Cannes).

The album will have its latest of several remastered versions released in stores next week, and it will include some added textures that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards felt needed to boost the album. Is that a little bit like George Lucas adding extra characters and effects to the original Star Wars trilogy? I guess we’ll find out next week. Meanwhile, the magazine that took its name from the band, has a cover story all about the legendary recording.

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