The Rolling Stones’ album “Exile on Main St.” is generally regarded as one of their best. It was made in France and published in 1972. The album’s hit tracks, including “Tumbling Dice,” “Sweet Virginia,” and “Happy,” are a blend of rock and roll, blues, country, and soul.
The band had controversially become tax exiles after the British government imposed a 93% tax penalty on wealthy earners like themselves. As a result, they had a finite amount of time in the UK and had to compose and record the album elsewhere. The Rolling Stones recorded Exile on Main Street in France for a variety of causes.
First off, it was challenging for the band to make the album in the UK because they were having legal and financial problems there. Additionally, the band found that France offered a more laid-back environment that enabled them to experiment and write music at their own pace. The band also discovered that the studio’s acoustics in the villa they leased in France gave their music a distinctive sound.
The band chose to continue composing and recording in France because of the financial incentives offered by the people there. However, it lacked the necessary recording tools for a band of The Rolling Stones’ caliber. Nevertheless, they discovered a workaround and converted the villa’s cellar into a studio.
Mick Jagger has also reflected on the recording procedure for the album. It was back in 2010 when he appeared on the Celebrity Playlist Podcast. That time, he revealed some songs which helped them with the recording sessions. Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothing by James Brown was Jagger’s first pick. He said, “This is like an amazing period for James Brown. He made the most incredible records, I think he had some argument with his band. I don’t know what about. And then, he got a whole load of new guys. So on Funk Power, you’ve got Bootsie Collins, and Catfish Collins playing the guitar, and Robert McCulloch playing sax.”
Another intriguing choice by Jagger was the timeless song “Move On Up” by Curtis Mayfield. He explained, “I mean, this is a really good period for Curtis Mayfield. This is a period of soul music, very much having a social consciousness. Curtis Mayfield was at the forefront of this social consciousness (scene) … It was a really good moment, I think, Curtis Mayfield was definitely in there, and very subtle with some of his lyrics.”
He also explained his love for the Chi-Lites and their song ‘Trouble’s A-Comin‘. He said, “The Chi-Lites. Keith used to play to death that song, ‘Have You Seen Her’, and The Rolling Stones cut a version of ‘Trouble’s A-Comin’. I don’t know what ever happened to it. Maybe it’ll come out on one of these re-releases they do so often now. This is one of the few fast tunes they did. They were mostly ballad specialists. The Chi-Lites, of course, are famous for providing the horn lick on ‘Crazy In Love’.”
Songs that Influenced Exile On Main St
- ‘Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothin’ – James Brown
- ‘Back Stabbers’ – The O’Jays
- ‘Move On Up’ – Marvin Gaye
- ‘Trouble’s A-Comin’ – The Chi-Lites
- ‘Everyday People’ – Sly and The Family Stones
- ‘Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)’ – Marvin Gaye
- ‘Voodoo Chile Blues’ – Jimi Hendrix
- ‘Rock and Roll’ – Led Zeppelin