Re: I'd Like To Discuss Exile on Main St.- The Greatest Album of All Time

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Posted by Leonard the Lizard on February 19, 2000 at 16:33:49:

In Reply to: I'd Like To Discuss Exile on Main St.- The Greatest Album of All Time posted by Big Vic on February 19, 2000 at 13:04:49:

Gotta agree with Keno on this: Exile is highly overrated. In fact, one of the most amusing things about the VL-B2B debate was so many people praising B2B as being new and taking chances whereas VL was just an elaboration of previous work. Well if VL was an elaboration of previous work, what was Exile? Exile was nothing but a poor imitation of the 3 fantastic records that immediately preceded it, a kind of moving sideways and downwards that obviously convinced Mick it was time to find a new direction. I personally believe that VL is *better* than Exile, which obviously isn't going to be popular, but when you think about the range of songs on VL, how exceptionally well it's produced, and how late in the game this extraordinary expression of creativity burst forth, VL is truly an amazing piece of work--and VERY different from the 3 albums that preceded it. Exile, in contrast, is full of songs that all sound alike. They hadn't brought Charlie's talents fully into the songwriting stage yet (that wouldn't happen till Black and Blue). It's got way too many horns in it and, relatedly, it's terribly produced: We all know that the romantic notion "Exile" emerged from Keith's French chateau a brilliant, completed masterpiece is just a legend designed for commercial reasons. Actually, from everything we know (and hopefully Bill Wyman will soon shed new light on this question), Exile emerged from Keith's dungeon a complete mess and had to be taken to studios in LA for manufacturing--just like B2B. VL, in contrast, really was mostly written isolated in a mansion on Barbados then recorded live in 3 weeks in Ireland. THAT is musicianship and artistry, and proved the Stones didn't have to rely on gadgetry and technology like, unfortunately, even the Beatles had to in their later days (especially the drumming). Hearing Exile after SF, LIB, and BB is of course not as appalling as hearing B2B after VL, but you've got to admit that it's a little lackluster after the three previous brilliant attempts, and CERTAINLY doesn't carve out a new direction.

(Which raises a sidebar question: Why don't those who praised B2B for trying to carve out a new diretion and criticized VL for being "the Stones, paint-by-number" not also praise Goat's Head Soup for moving in a new direction and criticize Exile for being "the Stones, paint-by-numbers?" Because that's exactly what it sounds like to me. In fact, it sounds a lot more "Stones, paint-by-numbers" to me than VL does. Just listen to the drums, the bass, the harp, the guitar interweaving, and the vocals on VL and you'll see what I mean what a BREAKTHROUGH record that was compared to SW, DW, UC, TY, and EM.)

I will agree with you on one thing, though, Big Vic. These albums should be rated as coherent wholes, not the sums of their parts. VL *is* similar to Exile in that it doesn't have as many stand-out songs as B2B--just as Exile doesn't have as many stand-out songs as GHS. But does that make GHS a better album than Exile? I think not.

Exile would probably be sixth on my list, after LIB, SF, SG, VL, and Beggars.

--L the L

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