The Rolling Stones

Exile on Main St. (Deluxe Edition)

The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main St. (Deluxe Edition)

I can’t remember the last time I listened to Exile, or the Stones, and gave a damn. Certainly not when it came out—I was 10. I must’ve heard it in my teenage years, once or twice in my 20s, and after that, “Tumbling Dice” on oldies radio. Meanwhile, rock splintered into 15 flavors of death metal and indie-everything, and I never gave this album another thought.

Until now. Exile and I are 38 years older, one of us has been remastered, and I’m loving about two-thirds of it. It’s jauntier than I recall—gospel touches, barrelhouse piano and squawky sax solos(!), the joyously raucous noise I imagine all great rock once sounded like. I prefer the disheveled glamour of “Tumbling Dice” to tighter classics like “Satisfaction,” and on “Rip This Joint” and “Happy,” the band sounds like it’s having actual fun (recording-session legends to the contrary).

The Details

The Rolling Stones
Exile on Main St. (Deluxe Edition)
Remastered Album:
Four and a half stars
Three stars

The few clunkers—“Let It Loose” does shit for me—are offset by surprises like Robert Johnson’s “Stop Breaking Down”; these guys could really bring the blues, back before the osteoporosis. Luckily, the remastering doesn’t clean up the famously murky original too much; Mick’s singing works better deep in the heaving mix. No one wants to know what he’s saying.

Among the 10 bonus songs—old tracks newly dubbed—a couple stand out: “Plundered My Soul,” a slow, driving number; the Keith-sung version of “Soul Survivor.” The rest are often catchy but rarely enlightening—very much minor efforts. No surprise they didn’t make the cut.

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