I’ve stated before that I’m pretty excited about this re-issue. Exile on Main St is one of my favorite album by the Rolling Stones. While Let it Bleed and Sticky Fingers might be better song-for-song, I find Exile to be an older and wiser version of Beggar’s Banquet. Both albums incorporated blues and country into the frame-work, but while Beggar’s Banquet only sees these musical forms as inspiration, Exile exists as soul, blues, and country all in one album. It’s a fully realized piece of work where it’s not the Rolling Stones playing blues, country, or soul. This blues, country and soul played by the Rolling Stones. (And there is a huge difference, believe me.)
Rolling Stone has a lengthy interview with Mick and Keith about the re-issue. I’m not going to decipher and analyze the interview here, because it might only interest me. However, what did strike me about it was how reissues of albums differ from reissues of other forms of art-forms. On albums like Exile unreleased tracks offer an inside view into the thought process that is taking place while recording an album. It’s the same reason why the Beatles’ Anthologies and Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series remain endlessly fascinating for fans and critics. With very few exceptions, the same can’t be said for authors of books and other artists. Musicians don’t seem as guarded about their work as writers sometimes are. Not many authors are willing to put their first draft or first story out for their audience to read.
Of course this doesn’t mean that I want to spend time listening to every musician’s unreleased song. There’s usually a reason why said songs are left off albums. But in the case of geniuses like the Stones, I’ll make exceptions.