"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Beat of the Day

The media blitz promoting a re-issue of the classic Stones record Exile on Main Street has been a real turn-off–Keith Richards even hosted a quiz between innings on the HD TV at Yankee Stadium last weekend–but then again, as a friend said to me the other day, the Stones never have left a dollar on the table.

And, Exile is a great record, so it’s not all bad.

Neither is this:


1 RagingTartabull   ~  May 20, 2010 11:12 am

The Stones were all about being Rockstars-cum-SuperCapitalists long before it became fashionable (Hi Hova!!), so is it kinda pathetic? Of course. Unexpected? Nope.

2 Alex Belth   ~  May 20, 2010 11:16 am

Exactly. Couple of weeks ago I was surprised/impressed that the NBA was using "Rip this Joint" as the music for their playoff ads...then, finally it dawned on me...PROMO!

3 Cliff Corcoran   ~  May 20, 2010 11:25 am

I still think Exile is an overrated record. Not bad, just overrated. Give me Sticky Fingers, Let It Bleed, and Beggars Banquet first.

I thought maybe I hadn't given Exile enough of a chance, but then I realized I got it the same time that I got London Calling, and I feel like I was issued London Calling at birth, it's one of my all-time favorites, while Exile feels like a record I'm sill not familiar with. I'm going to say that's Exile's failure, not mine.

All of that said, great song choice, Alex, the Richards-sung "Happy" is one of my favorites on that album, which has no shortage of excellent songs.

4 Alex Belth   ~  May 20, 2010 11:35 am

Give me Sticky Fingers, Let It Bleed, and Beggars Banquet first.


5 Toxic   ~  May 20, 2010 11:38 am

"the Stones never have left a dollar on the table"

You could narrow that down to just Jagger really.

Let It Bleed has to be first, any album that doesn't have Gimme Shelter can't be first. But I have to admit I'm an Exile fan.

6 RagingTartabull   ~  May 20, 2010 11:39 am

no love for Some Girls? Dang you guys are hard graders

I feel like Exile starts off like a hows on fire but tapers off a little bit towards the end, but that might be intentional considering its the audio equivalent of being up for 3 days in a French dungeon doing China White with Gram Parsons

7 RagingTartabull   ~  May 20, 2010 11:40 am

wow did I really spell "house" like that? No coffee today is getting the best of me

8 matt b   ~  May 20, 2010 11:52 am

While you can't go wrong with any of their output from '68 - '72, I would say I'm an Exile fan first and foremost. That's not to say Let It Bleed, Beggar's Banquet or Sticky Fingers aren't as great, but there's a quality to Exile that's truly singular. It's a "feel" album more than anything, and the Stones are just about the ultimate "feel" band.

When I first heard the first notes of Rocks Off when I was a teenager, something really happened to me. From that day on, I was totally hooked on Exile.

It seems to me that most general fans prefer Let it Bleed or Sticky Fingers, whereas most of the devout Stones freaks go for Exile. There's something about that amazing wall of mud, Americana sound they got. Seriously deep blues, country & gospel and, of course, no rock'n'roll band has ever been able to "swing" like the Stones.

As [1] noted, after they got ripped off by Decca and Allen Klein in succession, the Stones, with Mick as the driving business force, have always been about making as much money as possible. Keith's always been happy to go along for the ride, he just loathes chasing musical trends.

9 NoamSane   ~  May 20, 2010 11:52 am

[3] [4] Double ditto (for Bleed, Banquet, Fingers being superior to Exile). Just as with baseball players, the Stones' peak was in the second half of their 20s.

10 Mattpat11   ~  May 20, 2010 11:55 am

Mick did the quiz at the game I was at

11 matt b   ~  May 20, 2010 12:01 pm

[3] Sorry, Cliff, I think it's you. ;) But seriously, I honestly can't find filler on Exile. People will say "I Just Want To See His Face," but to me, that's an indispensable track - it's not really song, but its a brilliant mood piece. Same goes for "Ventilator Blues" with its ferocious Mick Taylor riff. And late in the album you get masterpieces like Let It Loose and Shine A Light.

Unfortunately, it was such a brilliantly sequenced double-LP, and some of that is lost on CD. Side 2 - the "pastoral" side -was especially a marvel: Sweet Virginia, Torn & Frayed, Sweet Black Angel and Loving Cup.

I think the murky feel of Exile is/was off-putting to some after the clean, crisp sound of Sticky Fingers.

12 matt b   ~  May 20, 2010 12:03 pm

Also, I should say - I think Tumbling Dice is of pure brilliance. It might be their finest single. (How's that for an argument starter!)

13 Alex Belth   ~  May 20, 2010 12:10 pm

Some Girls is one of my favorite Stones records, easily. Nostalgia city on that one.

14 vockins   ~  May 20, 2010 12:14 pm

They certainly left a few dollars on the table with ABKCO.

15 NoamSane   ~  May 20, 2010 12:17 pm

[10] There's a nice feature on Exile in the NY Times (yesterday, I think) that identifies this Stones "swing" (exemplified by Exile, in fact). But it's not really "swing". As ill-defined as the concept of swing is, Cream Hendrix, Sly & Family Stone, Santana, Allman Bros. etc. all tended to "swing" much harder than the Stones, IMO. With the Stones it's their amazing ability to be all over the place rhythmically and still groove hard in a repeatable fashion.

Here's the relevant quote from the Ben Ratliff NYT article:

I asked Don Was what he thought. “There’s a sound that’s identified with ‘Exile’ that’s become part of the vocabulary for every rock ‘n’ roll musician subsequently,” he said. “And this is the ultimate track of the style that characterizes ‘Exile.’ It’s not sloppiness; it’s width, in terms of where everyone feels the beat. You’ve got five individuals feeling the beat in a different place. At some point, the centrifugal force of the rhythm no longer holds the band together. That ‘Loving Cup’ is about the widest area you can have without the song falling apart.”

Matt B: great meeting you at the J Wilker reading. Thanks for starting up the Banter movie "column".

Oh yeah about the $ thing. I think Mick Jagger is perhaps a singular achiever in that he is a stellar musician and a shrewd, successful business person all within one human being. Can anyone come up with another. I used to think Madonna, but after awhile I realize she's not really a musician so much as a "performer" (not meant as a diss. . . really--I even like some of her songs.)

16 matt b   ~  May 20, 2010 12:29 pm

[15] Oh yeah, great meeting you too. That was a good time.

Here's a taste of what I meant about the Stones' "swinging"

I think a lot of it comes from Watts - the guy is a big band jazz drummer in a rock band.

17 thelarmis   ~  May 20, 2010 12:43 pm

i'll be teaching a coupla stones tunes to a great little 10 year old drummer in 2 weeks! : )

[15] charlie watts is NOT a "big band" drummer! he happened to put out a "big band" record, that was just terrible. he's a pretty horrible drummer all the way around, in any style. i like the stones okay, but he's just not good.

it's like calling phil collins a "big band" drummer, simply 'coz he put out a big band album. thing is, phil is (well, was - he can't physically play anymore, b/c of his back, i believe) actually a monstrously amazing drummer. watts, um, not so much...at all.

now, i'm saying he "sucks" or can't play at all. he's just not real good and tons of players could've given the same feel to the stones and played better, all around... perhaps, even Madonna! she actually got her start playing drums in bands in detroit and even some in nyc, methinks. seriously! : )

all this said, i still remember having a blast playing 'jumping jack flash' in high school and i always enjoyed playing 'satisfaction' and some other songs, in professional settings.

the steel wheels show at shea was good too, even if Living Colour blew 'em off the stage!

18 NoamSane   ~  May 20, 2010 12:46 pm

[17] Good choice of illustration with a Chuck Berry song. But I still would explain it like Don Was rather than as "swing" (years of jazz drumming myself have made me a bit particular about the use of that word).

I actually think of it as "Roll"--not having lost the second half of "Rock 'n' Roll" like most folks seemed to in the 70s. But that's just my own terminology.

[11] I think you're right about the muddy sound factor. For the true Stones fanatics it's part of the attraction of Exile. For others it may be off-putting.

19 thelarmis   ~  May 20, 2010 12:50 pm

[18] you're a jazz drummer? nice!

do you play professionally? study?

20 vockins   ~  May 20, 2010 1:05 pm

[17] "He's a pretty horrible drummer all the way around..."



You want gymnastics, look elsewhere, but that's about as solid as a drum take gets in the 20th century.

21 thelarmis   ~  May 20, 2010 1:23 pm

[20] i do go elsewhere for gymnastics. not looking for that in the stones.

the guiro on that track is awesome. i love me some guiro!

22 thelarmis   ~  May 20, 2010 1:25 pm

the rarely ever hitting the hi-hat on 2, 4 w/ the backbeat, just really doesn't sit well with me. once in a great while, it has a really good effect, but on every song, it gets old. unless, of course, it's linear drumming, which of course watts doesn't do and doesn't fit in the stones...

23 thelarmis   ~  May 20, 2010 1:52 pm

in hindsight, what I shoulda said, was something like this:

I'm looking forward to teaching a coupla old stones tunes to a young student of mine in two weeks. I always had fun playing stones tunes.

I'm not a big stones fan and don't own any of their cd's, but I like a lot of their songs and enjoyed seeing 'em live on the steels wheels tour at shea stadium.

I'm not a charlie watts fan in the slightest, but he does the job for the group, just fine. I wouldn't consider him a "big band" drummer playing rock, just 'coz he put out a big band album. phil collins - who's an amazing drumset player - put out a "big band" album also, but I wouldn't consider him a jazz player, at all. I do, however, think it's cool that these guys love & appreciate that style of music. it's cool for them that they were in the position to take on a project like that.

24 matt b   ~  May 20, 2010 2:07 pm

[18] Great point actually - I recall that when the Stones were trying to find a replacement for Wyman, Keith complained about most bass players that they knew how to rock, but very few knew how to roll. The terminology is not so much the point, anyway, really its the way the Stones keep things loose and supple as opposed to most hard rock that gets very, hmm, how the hell would you say it - almost straight up and down, very rigid. The Stones keep things loose, and they groove a lot more. They were always as much a soul/r&b band as a blues band anyway.

25 matt b   ~  May 20, 2010 2:08 pm

[23] Charlie's also made records with a smaller jazz combo. I think perhaps both a quintet and a sextet.

Oddly, usually the people I find to be Charlie's biggest champions are other drummers. (Same thing with Levon Helm.)

26 Diane Firstman   ~  May 20, 2010 2:18 pm


Much as I despise their "music", one could not argue with the money-making abilities of Kiss, especially Gene Simmons.

27 Diane Firstman   ~  May 20, 2010 2:21 pm


Pardon the naivete, but how is that "isolated drum" track achieved (in terms of its being saved for youtube)? Does he just record his own drum part on one track, or is it a "muting" of other instruments from the panel?

28 Diane Firstman   ~  May 20, 2010 2:23 pm

I'm a Peart person myself, with some "mainstream" appreciation for Alex Van Halen's work .... quite a different sound.

29 thelarmis   ~  May 20, 2010 2:23 pm

[25] jim keltner is the studio master in this realm of drumming. i'm not a fan, but i have the ultimate respect.

[26] agreed.

30 thelarmis   ~  May 20, 2010 2:27 pm

[28] oh, i LOVE simple, straight ahead drumming and drummers, as well as busy fusion players. i'm just not a big watts fan, that's all...

[27] yeah, it's probably just muting of the other instruments. back then, it may have all been recorded live, but nowadays a lot of the times, drums are recorded first - separate and alone. the drummer is probably hearing "scratch tracks" of the other instruments. but, those are re-recorded later, on other tracks. i have a lot of recordings i'm on, with just isolated drum tracks. the above track had drums and percussion.

31 Diane Firstman   ~  May 20, 2010 2:29 pm


Muted track, with Neil Peart drumming ...

32 thelarmis   ~  May 20, 2010 2:39 pm

[31] sweet! i don't know where it is right now, but somewhere i have a link to a digital video of yyz. some guy did some amazing computer animation of neil playing it. it's pretty awesome. i'm sure you can find it; i'm sorry i don't have the exact link right now...

the beginning of tom sawyer from the live in rio cd/dvd always gives me the chills. fourteen billion people singing along - even the melodies and drum fills, not just the lyrics - and the overall cheer. it's just breathtaking. wow.

33 thelarmis   ~  May 20, 2010 2:43 pm

[31] a student of mine sent me a link to some "drum channel". neil talks for like 15 minutes! i haven't watched it yet. remind me sometime, and i'll get you the link!

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