like a gnome without a garden
like Shakespeare without a fool
like a priest without a pulpit
like a freak without control
like Camus without The Stranger
like Jesus without a manger
like a gambler without a wager
like Keef without the Stones.
This is a continuation of a previous blog, titled: “Bob Dylan’s Worst Line Ever”.
After Slim’s brief outburst, he lapsed into silence again and did his impression of a lizard sitting on a rock. The not unpleasant smell from the Indian take-out mercifully masked the usual faint odour of sour sweat emanating from Slim’s bedroom. His bedroom door was closed, a yellow light leaked through the gap between bottom of the door and the threadbare carpet. The room pulsed in a vaguely sinister way.
I began to panic; he could pull out his blueprints of the Star Ship Enterprise at any minute. I was about to ask him why so much depends on a red wheelbarrow, but thought better of it. I reached for my phone.
“Slim”, I said, “I was looking at Rolling Stone’s list of the top 500 albums of all time, the other day, do you want to see it?”
“Not really”, he replied.
“Ok”, I tried, “what do you think is the most over-rated album of all time?”
“All right”, he sighed, ”show me the top 10 albums.”
I passed him my phone and he studied the list for a few minutes, then pounced.
“Number 7, ‘Exile on Main Street’, by the Stones”
“Because, it’s awful. It’s recycled 12 bar, refried boogie, Jagger sounds like a cat being neutered. It’s not even the seventh best Stones’ album. Creedence and The Band did this kind of thing a few years before and a lot better. This is the sound of the Stones throwing in their creative hand and saying, ‘enough, we’re tired’. It’s the artistic equivalent of taking a package holiday to Majorca. Look, it’s listed higher than ‘The White Album’ and ‘Kinda Blue’. Absolute bollocks!”
“It’s ‘Kind of Blue’ not ‘Kinda Blue’
Slim looked at me like he was wondering why he bothered to speak to the rest of the human race at all.
“Well”, I said,”why do you think Rolling Stone rates it so high?”
“Because, it’s a Keef album and, to rock critics, Keef embodies the rock and roll spirit, the dead romantic hero, except he’s not dead. He’s the guy who would never have hung out with them at school. Plus, there’s this legend of the Stones hunkered down in a house in France recording the album, escaping from the tax man where in fact, Mick, Charlie and Bill never stayed at the house probably because they didn’t want to be around Keef’s junkie friends. Anyway, Mick didn’t think much of the album at all”.
“Look it up”.
So I did.
This is Mick Jagger talking about ‘Exile’ in “According to The Rolling Stones” (Chronicle Books, San Francisco):
“Exile on Main Street is not one of my favourite albums”.
“…when I listen to Exile it has some of the worst mixes I’ve ever heard. I’d love to remix the record, not just because of the vocals, but because generally I think it sounds lousy. At the time Jimmy Miller was not functioning properly. I had to finish the whole record myself, because otherwise there were just these drunks and junkies.”
“Exile is really a mixture of bits and pieces left over from the previous album recorded at Olympic Studios…..These were mixed up with a few slightly more grungy things done in the South of France. It’s seen as one album all recorded there and it really wasn’t.”
“So there’s a good four songs off it, but when you play the other nineteen, you can’t, or they don’t work, or nobody likes them, and you think, ’Ok, we’ll play another one instead’. We have rehearsed a lot of the tunes off Exile, but there’s not much that’s playable.”