Review of Exile on Mainstreet

"Myths and legends die hard in America. We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men's reality. Weird heroes and mould-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of 'the rat race' is not yet final." Hunter S Thompson, circa 1979 —The Great Shark Hunt, 1979

The Rolling Stones looked for studios in Paris and couldn’t find any they liked. They had a truck that was equipped with a studio that could be parked by any theater or empty loft.
Keith Richard's house, Nillcote, seemed to be the best choice, near lawless Marceau and Mafia Italy . Philipe Lymen could make smack runs into the lawless Marceau, or into Mafia controlled Genoa.
Mick and Bianca Jagger (who was pregnant) were living in Paris. The musicians, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Mike Taylor, Bobby Keys the horn section and rhythm section were living scattered around. Mick decided they would move into Nillcote.
The Stones were exiled from the UK for tax abuse, and were shaken up by it. They missed the comfort of the Brit food they were used to and the cloistered utero feeling of the safe worlds they had created in their mansions, but not the 90% UK tax. It was impossible to live at that tax rate, the UK is strange.
They felt like true expats, alone with nothing to lose. They were in a Catch-22 situation, sink or swim.
With the positivity of their leader Mick Jagger, his constant happiness and vision, his easy-going style, his ongoing joy of the whole process, Jagger was the glue that held the creative process together.
Keith on the other-hand was muddling through a junk habit and would sleep long hours. Keith would wake-up with a hang over, have a taste, back in the halo, all the time listening to the guys working on songs in the basement.
The whole band had to be ready when Keith was up and running, witch unnerved Jagger who felt Keith would do better to adhere to some kind of a schedule.

Mick would sit in the basement jamming, fabricating, but truly missing his best friend Keith, who was at the beach.
The band would kibitz about on songs, Keith when in action was a task master, when a song was ready, a sensation or consciousness swept through the musicians, Keith would start staring at Bill Wyman, who would tilt his bass up about 15 degrees towards the heavans , THAT WAS THE SIGN! 20 takes latter towards the final cut ( which would be hashed over in the Sunset Blvd Studio latter in LA) it happened.
The bewitching open party atmosphere is a major part of putting "" Exile"" together. There was no security, cool people walking in and out . Anita Pallenberg (Keith's wife at the time, the two of them where shooting gallery buddies), reminisces, walking into the living room and seeing a guy with a huge baggy full of smack sitting on the sofa. Of course that was a ticket to get in on the endless partying with the family, but things got dark from then on.
Bobby Keys with a southern draw, the bands sax player never mentioned seeing junk, but admitted seeing plenty of booze and ganja, all being used 24 hrs a day--Keys had one eye open and one eye closed of course.
Keith had a family whose job it was to score smack for him in Marceau. Tim Lyman would make trips between borders to supply and use junk with Keith and Anita.  Lyman's son, Nicholas could roll joints for the gang, that was his job. Years later Nicholas said the scene felt dark to him at times, but he also felt a charismatic feeling emanating.
The recording studio was was spread out and divided into sections. The head end was a old BBC mobile studio in truck which had to be backed  up a tiny alley way through untrimmed trees, then running wires from the head end through the ground floor of Nillcote. It was weird, everyone was so wasted. The horn section might be connected to the studio in a hall way, Bill Wyman was wired right outside of Keith's section. It just seemed like a big cluster-fuck, it was amazing anything was put together.
Keith kept a maid, Matta, who looked like a Voodoo Priestess. Jumbo Jack, the cook, who was as big as Howling Wolf, with triple size hands and wore a Top hat. He doubled as chauffeur. JUMBO COULD MAKE Fried chicken, burritos, hamburgers, fries, veggies, pizza , peel fruit, whatever the family wanted.
Matta was a gambler and loved to play dice, she would organize crap games and got rich winning money from Jagger and Richards. Jagger got the ideal for the song "Tumbling Dice" from crap games with Matta.
Bianca Jagger in a slinky asian style white silk dress,  radiating auras, she was the sun, at the corp of Exile, Mick's full of joy,  a father with the beautifully pregnant Bianca.
Started out jamming.

The Stones were always in debt, tax under labor was 83%. It was impossible for them to live in England. And the powers at be were threatened by the Stones.

Keith felt that they were edged out of their own country (UK).

The album was raw and edgy but the reviews were terrible. 2 years latter it was called the best rock n roll album ever. Mick felt the PRESS was very disruptive to his and Bianca's personal life.

Charlie Watts suffered culture shock at first, but remains in France today.

Keith said it was getting cold outside and winter was coming, the tape was in the truck and everyone left quickly. Even the French Government was scared of the Devils at Nillcote, the best place for artist to live in the world, scared of artist? go figure, as they say.

The stones felt like exiles and they knew they had to do this album. But nobody thought it would be as good as it still is.

There was no mention in the documentary were money was coming from and who was the money manager goes unsaid.

The stones were the center of the universe at the time, music was revolution.

The whole gathering, family, players, technicians, cooks were a tribe.

Watts says Richards was a true Bohemian, he lived like a rasta man, from day to day and didn't worry about the small shit.

The best music comes when the band doesn't think they are being recorded.

Bobby Keys was a open minded, loving and a accepting good ol boy, odd guy, so straight, but totally in the Nillcote family groove.
Mick Taylor wasn't making any money, but was digging it all.
It was so hot in the basement at times that Mick wrote a song and sang it while playing piano "Where's our Ventilator?"

French man goes to Nillcote, to visit for a day, he is amazed, he ends up partying with the family for six months.

Ian Stewart, who was was a stride genius, who was often called the 5th Stone was never mentioned because he wasn't at Nillcote.

Keith does a interview after shooting junk. He talks intelligently but is wain.

Charlie and Mick walk into the present location of Nillcote, looking around in 2010 Mick says to Charlie on film, " their was no master plan," and "boring, old recording session, who gives a shit". Mick was the anti-christ of rock n roll those days." Alan Ginsburg crowned Mick the KING of the World Hippiedom.

Keith & Mick, can play like John Hammond in duo and they often do, even now.

The Stones like Ray Charles loved country music too. Keith saw country music and hill people to be like a hallucination in the forest clearing festooned with Tibetan Flags nomads.

Rock is a beautiful navajo blue turquoise stone on gold caldron to mix things up in…..Keith

The basement was the center of the universe, drink-in Jack, smoking ganja, coca, play as loud as they wanted. It was like recording in a sauna.

Pallenberg calls it a labor of love.
When Bianca and Mick were married it was suppose to be a secret, but didn't stay a secret.

Bobby keys could play all reed instruments and and taught charlie about time settings: 2/4 mostly, to count 2 counts to every 4 beats in a measure, 1+2+. 1 and 2 and down on the 1 & 2, up on the ands. Charlie was a quick learner, and always played as though he could crack any second, following Keith. 

Nillcote was never empty, there were few disruptions though.

Like true alcoholics they would only eat one meal a day you could drink Pernod, spring water, Jack Daniel, Fresh juice, great Champagne, Coke-Cola, whatever you wanted.

Charlie Watts says it is hell for everyone, but not for Keith.

Keith would sleep for a whole day, so when group the regular players went to bed, Keith would just work with whoever was there. Usually Jimmy Miller, who adored Keith, would stay up with him and a few others. Jimmy Miller could play drums. Affable good ol boy Bobby Keys would stay, Keys has a big heart even today.

Allot of the Stones music is all from their hearts, played with open hearts and empty minds.

Keith's people were watching TV and they were robbed, 8 guitars, some amps and stuff, there was no security at Nillote except JUMBO JACK who was cooking. It wouldn't be that way today, impossible, but the free flow love seemed to work as security.

Keith's Mum once said that Keith was born with a good ear. A utterly-amazing ear, Mrs. Richards was just being modest. Listen to "All Down the Line" Alternate Take. Keith plucks 1 note into the air and the harmony is slightly off, but it rocks you to the bone. Don Was says " They open up, "All Down The Line" Alternate take as far as you can.

Mick says "there was no control."

They split to LA. And the emotions and love they were giving out through the album drained them emotionally

Casino Boogie, the lyrics, was inspired by Burroughs cut up method, Mick would write 3 to 8 words on type paper and write 3 to 9 word phrases, write them down with a felt tip pen and cut them into pieces while smoking and sing them.

Anita Pallenberg says it was a beautiful world, she and Keith liked to go to a deserted beach, smoke ganja, Keith would jam and sit cross legged on a indian blanket.

Charlie Watts says they mixed the album constantly. Mick and Charlie designed the album cover.

They used the beat photographer Robert Frank's photos. He recommended they film stuff with Super 8.

Mick doesn't like anything you did yesterday he is interested in tomorrow, that keeps him going, CW

Keith did junk to hide from the glare of the press, it was his halo armer. He felt like the junk covered him and protected him, he was the coolest person on earth with it, the shit was like a shield for Keith, he lived in his own universe at Nillcote and still does,  in his own Beduin cushioned library. Today's Keith Richards is more of a book freak with a unreal vocabulary and not a junky. He still enjoys a smoke of ganja and snort of Rebel Yell!
Aside: When the album " Exile on Main Street" was released I was one of the first to buy it. I smoked ganja, drank German Beer and listened to it over and over again, wearing out the grooves. 


No comments: