dimanche, novembre 21, 2004

Rolling Stone 2004

The Stones in Exile in 1972
50 moments that changed the history of rock & roll
This is how singer Mick Jagger described his long, hot summer of 1971 at Nellcôte, guitarist Keith Richards' nineteenth-century villa on the French Riviera, as the Rolling Stones made their greatest album, the 1972 double LP Exile on Main Street: "We recorded in Keith's disgusting basement, which looked like a prison. . . . The humidity was incredible. I couldn't stand it. As soon as I opened my mouth to sing, my voice was gone. It was so humid that all the guitars were out of tune by the time we got to the end of each number."
"It was 120 degrees," Richards recalled. "Everyone sat around sweating and playing with their pants off. That's when I got into Jack Daniel's. You're trying to get backup vocals finished . . . and the voice starts to go: 'This'll give you another half hour.' It's those fumes that do it, man."
A triumph of dedicated primitivism and alcoholic, overheated chaos, Exile on Main Street nailed Jagger, Richards, drummer Charlie Watts, bassist Bill Wyman and guitarist Mick Taylor at their absolute peak and captured the atmosphere at Nellc?te with messy faithfulness. Exile wasn't a studio album (although final overdubs and mixing were done at Sunset Sound in Hollywood) -- it was a rock & roll field recording, much like the old Delta-blues sides over which Jagger and Richards had bonded as schoolboys. As the Stones hammered out the outlaw gallop of "Rocks Off" and the epic dirty soul of "Tumbling Dice" in the cryptlike cellar kitchen, mikes and amps were wired up to tape machines in a mobile studio outside. "You were just going into an era where the music industry was full of these pristine sounds -- and we were going the other way," Richards said, cackling with pride thirty years later.
The Stones literally made Exile on the run. In May '71, they moved to France, citing the excessive taxation and police harassment in their native Britain. Many of the Jagger-Richards songs on Exile reflect the exhaustion and madness of the Stones' personal and public lives at the time ("Torn and Frayed," "Soul Survivor"). Jagger's marriage to Nicaraguan model Bianca Perez Morena de Macias on the eve of the Exile sessions irritated Richards, who wanted his singer's full attention during recording; Richards was at the height of his 1970s heroin addiction and spending a lot of time with American country-rock icon Gram Parsons.
Three weeks after Exile's release on May 12th, 1972, the Stones took that accumulated madness with them on a two-month North American tour that opened with a gate-crashers' riot in Vancouver. An equipment truck was bombed before a show in Montreal; there were no arrests. Jagger and Richards, however, were busted in Rhode Island for allegedly assaulting a photographer and briefly jailed. Backstage, the Stones' entourage included high-tone celebrities such as Andy Warhol, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Truman Capote, and the band's jet became a movable feast of drugs and mile-high sex. Exile cover photographer Robert Frank filmed the high jinks for a documentary, Cocksucker Blues, but a Christmas-season opening in New York was canceled when Frank and the band fell out over issues of control and editing. Three decades later, Cocksucker Blues remains commercially unavailable.
"There was this one bit that seemed to upset a few people, concerning a nude young lady that we had for lunch one afternoon on the plane," said longtime Stones roadie and pianist Ian Stewart. "To be honest, it was all staged for the cameras. After all, this was the Rolling Stones on tour here, mate. We had to make things at least a little bit naughty."