The Rolling Stones circus landed in the south of France in the spring of 1971 as reluctant tax exiles fleeing the government's punitive 93% tax on high earners. The group had just extricated themselves, at some cost, from a misguided management deal with the infamous Allen Klein, who was still claiming he owned their publishing rights. From the death by drowning of Brian Jones, one of their founders, the near death by overdose of Marianne Faithfull, Mick Jagger's former girlfriend, the murder of a fan by Hell's Angels, who had been hired by the group's management to provide security at 1969's ill-fated Altamont festival, the Stones chaos and decadence wasn’t appreciated at home. They left England before the government would seize their assets. "There was a feeling you were being edged out of your own country by the British government. The Stones really felt like exiles," Richards says. "It was us against the world now."
Once the decision had been made to record the album in the basement of Villa Nellcôte, Richards's rented house in the south of France, the working schedule was dictated by the irregular hours kept by Richards. "A lot of Exile was done how Keith works," confirms Charlie Watts in Stones in Exile, a new documentary about the making of Exile on Main St in 1971, "which is, play it 20 times, marinade, play it another 20 times. He knows what he likes, but he's very loose. Keith's a very bohemian and eccentric person, he really is." In Richards' voiceover in the documentary, he defines the essential difference in temperament between Mick Jagger and himself. "Mick needs to know what he's going to do tomorrow. Me, I'm just happy to wake up and see who's hanging around. Mick's rock, I'm roll." The album is often described as being Richards' finest moment, as Exile is often thought to reflect his vision for a raw, rootsy blues sound.
Perhaps because he was not the controlling presence on Exile on Main St, which has often been voted one of the greatest rock'n'roll record ever by many music critics, it is not necessarily one of Mick Jagger's favorite Rolling Stones albums. He once described it as sounding "lousy" with "no concerted effort of intention", adding "at the time, Jimmy Miller was not functioning properly. I had to finish the whole record myself (far away from Nellcôte, in Los Angeles), because otherwise there were just these drunks and junkies." Similar to Sly Stone's There's a Riot Going on, Exile on Main St sounds like an album made by a bunch of drunks and junkies who were somehow firing on all engines. Jim Price and Bobby Keys's horns are an integral part of the dirty sound, as is Ian Stewart's and Nicky Hopkins' piano and Mick Taylor's guitar.
Just watched it. Thought it was a solid rockumentary. Very enjoyable for a big Stones fan like myself especially after having just read Keith Richards' Life (autobiography). 4 out of 5 for me....slide the scale downward depending on your love of 60's rock and the Stones and rockumentaries. For some, this is the type of film you know you have no interest in....Keith Richards would say "Whatever!" A the time of the making of Exile all he cared about was the music, smack and his family (Marlon and Anita)....probably in that order.
The only part of this documentary that I didn't like was the celebrity testimonials at the beginning and end...unnecessary in my opinion! The music of Exile speaks for itself....I don't need jack White (who I like alot) reaffirming the album's greatness!
The US Forest Service has made Rolling Stones' Chuck Leavell an honorary forest ranger.
The keyboardist for the Rolling Stones and the Allman Brothers Band and also a Georgia tree farmer, accepted the ranger hat. “This means every bit as much to me as that Grammy did a couple of weeks ago,” he said in an interview before taking the stage with Smokey the Bear and Tom Tidwell, chief of the Forest Service.
"You're Welcome. I was surprised that I was able to add it in a larger sized movie viewer. You ever wonder how many oddball families and little groups there are out there. Maybe it's better that we never find out."