A detailed and often funny documentary about the Rolling Stones making Exile on Main Street.
It’s about time.
While the Fab Four have had their entire catalog reissued along with the monumental Anthology, the Stones have not been given their proper due neither in reissue nor film. Hopefully, Stones in Exile is just the beginning.
Stones in Exile is a documentary about the making of the double album, Exile on Main Street. In the spring of 1971, the Stones owed more taxes than they could pay, and subsequently moved to France to avoid the British government’s seizure of their assets. No suitable studio was found in Southern France, so they decided to move their mobile recording truck to Keith’s Nellcôte mansion and make an album.
What were they thinking?
The film begins with Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts returning to Olympic studios, one of two studios where the album was finished. A brief exchange about where Charlie played the drums and Mick pointing out where he worked, but without archival photos, the scene falls flat. I began to feel buyer’s regret when suddenly Mick states flatly, (I’m paraphrasing) “Old studios. Who cares?” Bam! There’s the Stones we know and love.
It was Keith as master of the house and at first, recording sessions were long, lasting often for days. Then Richard’s Bohemian open-door policy soon had friends, hangers-on, local riff raff and lucky for us, photographers Norman Seeff and Dominique Tarle who captured the time magnificently.
How the band made any music at all through the mayhem (some of Richards guitars were stolen), madness (parties galore), personal tiffs (Jagger shows, but no Keith and vice versa) and the extreme heat and humidity in the basement where they recorded, is beyond imagination. Somehow, they made their most grittiest and swaggering record to date.
Some fans felt that the 61 minute length was too short, but the film is tight and never overly nostalgic. This was nearly 40 years ago and after all, the Stones are always about moving forward. Bonus features include additional interviews including the ever witty and loveable Richards.
"Mick needs to know what he's going to do tomorrow," says the mighty Keef. "Me, I'm just happy to wake up and see who's hanging around. Mick's rock, I'm roll."
Now, that’s rock and roll.