Beliefnet
Rod Dreher

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The other morning I got in my car for the drive to work and heard coming out of the radio the voice of Keith Richards, talking about the 40th anniversary re-release of “Exile on Main Street,” probably the greatest Stones album of all time. NPR did some great coverage of this cultural milestone. Here’s the long Keith interview, and here’s a link to one they did with Mick. The new version of “Exile” has some previously unreleased material from those sessions. While Ben Ratliff’s judgment that the alt version of “Loving Cup” is “the best thing the Stones ever did” is plainly ridiculous, it’s still fantastic, and deeply, truly Stones-y, in its loose-limbed, gutbucket glory (Ratliff: “The Stones gather around the song like pickpockets…”). Here it is for a listen:What’s your favorite song from “Exile”? So many to choose from, but I’m partial to “Shine a Light.” My idea of heaven would be to play the Billy Preston piano and organ parts on this song. Give a listen:How I wish someone had organized a 40th anniversary “Exile” concert, featuring the Stones playing every song, in order, with special guests (e.g., Springsteen). Or, alternatively, going through the album one song at a time, with a new band or performer playing each one. What I wouldn’t give to see the Black Crowes do “Happy” or “Tumbling Dice” — and then bringing Mick and Keith out for a show-closing “Shine A Light.” Something like that. Anything. God, I love that record. Think about what the Stones accomplished in that four year period between 1968 and 1972: “Beggars Banquet,” “Let It Bleed,” “Sticky Fingers” and “Exile on Main Street.” They would never be that good again, but if they had released any one of those albums, their place in the rock pantheon would have been assured.

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