“Stones In Exile” by The Rolling Stones

Artist: The Rolling Stones
Title: “Stones In Exile”
Label: Eagle Vision
Release Date: 6/21/2010
Genre: Rock & Roll
Rating: 4/5

In 1971, the Rolling Stones did what no one ever thought they would do – after being levied with incredible taxation from the English government; the band picked up and left their native country and moved to the South of France. Keith Richards settled at a house called Nellcote and eventually the rest of the Rolling Stones would take up temporary residence there and the beginnings of the album “Exile On Main Street” would be laid down and recorded. This documentary brings us back to that house in France as the band discusses the makings of the record and what went into it on a daily basis. We also get an inside look into what life at the house was like and how it eventually became a central gathering place for many music personality and night life. The film is loaded with great insights from the band and the producers that helped make the album come to life. We learn just how the decision was come to about recording the legendary LP inside the house and its basement as opposed to working in a full on studio and that was based on the studios of France not being up to snuff with what the Stones needed. Fortunately the band owned a mobile recording truck and this was set up at the house and the rest was history. There are amazing photographs from this period in the bands life and not only performance and recording images but also every day life and fun candid shots. A majority of the photographs come care of Dominique Tarle’s and I sense a photography book coming out of this release as well eventually because the fans would eat it up if this became the case. The feature is directed by Stephen Kajik and also makes some excellent use of the infamous footage from “Cocksucker Blues” by Robert Frank (that full documentary has not yet been released based on its content). As a film, this documentary runs about an hour and it doesn’t lose your interest once. It’s the perfect compliment for the fan that has just purchased the re-issue of the “Exile On Main Street” album and after they listen to that, and watch the film it will all make just a little more sense. Remember that not only were the Stones “changing” the expected direction in their fans eyes with “Exile”, but they were also delivering a double album which was so uncommon for a band to do back in 1971. This film helps you learn why all of this was the case.

Bonus Features: A healthy portion of the bonus features focuses on the extended interviews with Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Mick Taylor, Anita Pallenberg, Charlie Watts and Ron Wood. These segments are fantastic and bring you back to the time of the recording of “Exile On Main Street” as these individuals remember it today. We also learn a lot more about what it was like for the band to be living in France as opposed to their native England and how easy or difficult it was to adjust to this new life. We don’t get any commentary from Mick Jagger, but Keith probably said a lot of what the famous singer would have said and it was great to hear about this process from former member Taylor. Ronnie Wood who joined the band a few years after this recording is spoken to as well and he lines out just how important this album was to him as a fan of music. I don’t foresee any viewer fast forwarding through this content. The features continue with a return visit to Stargroves house and Olympic studios with Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts. Together the pair wanders the grounds and rooms of these legendary places in Rolling Stones history as they recall memories about each particular place. It was amusing to see Mick and Charlie bickering slightly as to what was done where from time to time. The last feature in the bonus section is called “Exile Fans” and this delivers a number of other music business talent lining out their views on the historic album. Its quite the roster when it comes down to it and finds producer Don Was along with musicians of note Liz Phair, Jack White, Sheryl Crow, Caleb Followill and Will I. Am being joined by Martin Scorsese who each examine this album and its own impact on their lives. Phair refers to it as her desert island and deathbed album while Will recalls toting it around in his backpack as a youth. His comment about today’s music fan not “getting it” in terms of importance of lugging it around being something cool based on their having entire record stores digitally saved on a small device is priceless. This set of dialogues runs almost as long as the documentary itself and like the other bonus segments is time well spent because it runs across a wide spectrum of.

All this being said, this is a wonderful film and one that brings a lot to the table in terms of the actual history of a classic album. The cornucopia of bonus features that bring you deeper into the mix make it all the more enticing. The band has re-released “Exile On Main Street” and now it’s even longer with a ton of bonus tracks and other treats. The album was originally received with mixed opinion because it was one that confused the journalistic community and a lot of the legacy Stones fans but after awhile the realization would come that this was a classic that would withstand the tests of musical time. Now over thirty years later this is referred to as one of the best Rolling Stones albums ever and once you give a listen I am sure that you will be in agreement. This documentary will sit perfectly among your other music films and be one that you come back to for additional information about this incredible album.

Eagle Rock Entertainment will be releasing a number of other Rolling Stones projects in the near future so perhaps we shall finally see the Frank film and perhaps even a special edition of the “Rock and Roll Circus” in addition to the already announced “Ladies And Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones”.

Track Listing:
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Official Website: http://www.rollingstones.com

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