Q.� What is considered as the best Rolling Stones album < xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
A.� Generally, the best of The Stones is captured on their 1972 double album (remember them ) Exile On Main Street.
Q.� Why is it the best ������������
A.� It captures The Stones at a significant moment in their career. Having survived the drugs busts and super pop stardom of the 1960s culminating in the nightmare of Altamont, the band had time to draw breath, and relax a little, away from the madness that London had become for them.
Q.� Were they taking a holiday
A.� Of a sort. Because of the lax financial practices that were the norm for bands that had earned a serious amount of money in a short time, The Stones were advised to live outside the UK for a year in order to escape a crippling tax bill. The duly decamped to southern France, and Keith Richard rented a villa which had been used as a Gestapo headquarters during the war. With the rest of the band allotted various similar locations, and really not much else to do, they commenced writing and recording what would become Exile On Main Street.
Q.� Why didn't they have much else to do
A.� You have to remember the times. People, including musicians like The Stones, were nowhere near as widely travelled as they are today. For a bunch of London lads, living and working in a foreign country for a year must have felt like being transported to Mars.
Q.� Is the album a product of its surroundings
A.� Undoubtedly. Because the band were all living in a foreign country, distanced from family and friends, as well as the clubs, restaurants and cinemas which they were used to, they turned inwards, exploring the country, blues and roots music that they had used to evolve their unique songs and sound. Jagger and Richard are unacknowledged masters of blues, roots and country music, they understand them deeply, and are utterly in tune with the emotions and cultural heritage that they have adopted. With the time, and probably the inclination, to relax and stretch out, they composed a set of songs that underline their ability to assimilate the works of their heroes into their own musical output. The authenticity of the sound is increased by their use of top-notch musicians like Nicky Hopkins and Doctor John, and the gospel backing vocalists assembled and orchestrated by organist Billy Preston.
Q.� Where was the record made
A.� Right there in the basement of Richard's temporary home, using the band's mobile recording studio, which was parked outside. The claustrophobic atmosphere of the damp cellar that became their 'studio' no doubt added to the atmosphere of the recordings�- certainly Jimmy Miller's muddy production evokes the rambling casual approach to the sessions that increase the loose overall feel of the album as a whole.
Q.� Was the album a success
A.� Initially no. The sprawling wide-ranging musical pallet of styles which was doubtless hugely enjoyable and therapeutic for the band themselves, was seen as something of a sprawling mess by their bewildered fans. It is very much an album, in the true sense of the word, rather than a collection of singles. The songs on the original vinyl issue were grouped on each side as a collection�- with the rocky first side followed by a more acoustic second side. It's an album that needs to be listened to at one sitting, and it rewards the listener with an insight into what makes The Stones what they are, and proves what superb musicians and writers they are, when they take the time to get down to some serious work.
Q.� How did the record take shape
A.� As soon as The Stones were financially independent enough, they adopted a recording process that suits them.�They arrive at the studio, and record everything they do�- doodles, ideas, jams, and then pick out pieces they can refine and polish. Thus, they no doubt spent many days, and of course nights, simply seeing what turned up, and then picking out with their unerring instinct for a memorable riff or vocal fragment, pieces they could fine-tune into finished songs.
Q.� The credits seem to suggest that everyone had a go at everything!
A.� Again, this would fit with The Stones' working practices�- there was no room for any prima donna musician territory-building. Bill Wyman arrived late for the sessions, and found that a good deal of bass parts had already been recorded.�Both Richard and guitarist Mick Taylor played bass, and in the absence of Wyman, they probably just got on with it. Session players were used as appropriate, again, the final sound of the song mattering far more than any sensitivity of the musicians who created it.
Q.� Is there a standout track
A.� Probably Tumbling Dice sums up the whole record.�Its lazy, sassy riff and rhythm, the gospel backing, and Jagger singing of a gambler and on-the-edge hero, more or less sets the tone for the album, and the time it was made. A band of rebels away from home, working to pass the time as much as anything, and taking that time to make sure that they enjoyed paying homage to their roots, and in doing so, ensuring that their audience could do the same. The Stones have rarely sounded more in tune with their musical roots, their ambitions, and indeed each other.
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