Monday, May 31, 2010
Rock Turtleneck wraps up our month-long celebration of the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street deluxe reissue with some outtakes from the outtakes.
As you are most likely well aware, Exile redux features a second disc of previously unreleased bonus tracks from the Exile era. Some are completely new to Stones fans and had eluded bootleggers for almost 40 years, like "Plundered My Soul" and "Following the River" (both of which feature new 2009 vocals by Jagger).
Others, like this early version of "Loving Cup" that dates back to the 1969 Let it Bleed sessions, are considered perhaps even better than the versions that wound up on Exile.
But as someone who's had a collection of Exile outtakes in their possession long before the new reissue, I was shocked by some of the material that was left off the Exile outtakes CD.
One is an awesome acoustic demo of "All Down the Line" which like "Loving Cup," may date back to 1969.
Another is "Exile on Main Street Blues," a piano ditty by Mick Jagger performed in the style of Bessie Smith that was used in this super rare promo for the record upon its original release in 1972.
As with "Glass Onion" and "Savoy Truffle" on The Beatles' White Album, "Exile on Main Street Blues" cleverly name checks many titles from their new record.
Exile on Main Street, it's a strange street to walk down
Now let it loose, now come on, let it all hang down
Eh round up those people, move them out of town
Gimmie little drink from your loving cup
Now shake your hip mama, keep me all shook up
Feeling so doggone happy like a natural child
Oh help me do the boogie all down the line
Come on Virginia, let's shoot some dice
My sweet black angel, shine a little light
"Exile on Main Street Blues" would have made a dandy lo-fi coda for the sprawling double LP but remains on the Stones' cutting room floor. For a limited time however, Rock Turtleneck is making it available for download here, as our own coda to our historic Exile in May Street celebration. Thanks and may the good lord Shine A Light on you.
mp3: "Exile On Main Street Blues"
mp3: "All Down the Line" acoustic demo
Bonus bonus track:
mp3: "A Line on You" (early version of "Shine A Light")
Monday, May 24, 2010
Though the Rolling Stones are quick to name-check cats like Howlin' Wolf, Robert Johnson and Chuck Berry as primary inspirations, they also owe a heavy debt to Birthday Boy Bob Dylan, who turns 69 today. For Exile on Main Street, the Stones' sprawling double platter of decadence which we've been celebrating all month long, would most likely not exist were it not for Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, rock's first double album.
Dylan released BoB in May of 1966, completing his electric trilogy that began only a year earlier with Bringing it All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited. Incredibly, all three were completed before he'd even turned 25.
While not my favorite Dylan record (that would probably be John Wesley Harding), Blonde on Blonde is a kaleidoscopic fever dream of visionary Chicago blues, jilted lovers, and late-night Nashville hallucinations that established the Bard of Hibbing as the oracle of his age. Side One featured perhaps his greatest and literally most visionary song, "Visions of Johanna."
The four-sided treasure trove also featured some delightful throwaways. like personal fave "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat"
Perhaps most amazingly, it featured "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" a thinly veiled, 87-verse ode to his new bride Sara Lowndes that took up all of Side Four.
Bob Dylan 1966 - Legend Video - Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands
Kern ( I Want to Be Dylan ) Little | MySpace Video
Henceforth, the double album became the pinnacle one must attain if he, she or them are to be considered a Serious Musician for the ages. And for the fans, it gave us an evening of pleasure and a nice gatefold which was handy for the preparation recreational substances.
Two years after Dylan, The Beatles dropped the White Album, which showed the Fabs' truly unbelievable ability to write and perform songs in any genre, even genres that hadn't been invented yet.
A year after that, Jimi Hendrix took us to Electric Ladyland and The Who upped the ante with Tommy, a double record that was an opera of all things. It instantly took them from Maximum R&B to the Metropolitan Opera House.
In 1972, after an incredible run of Beggar's Banquet, Let it Bleed and Sticky Fingers, the Stones had nothing left to prove in the single-LP format and gave us Exile on Main Street. Like Dylan's and the Beatles doubles, Exile combines epic tracks, like "Tumbling Dice" with funky curiosities like "Turd on the Run."
In '75, Led Zeppelin took their mystical mix of light & shade up a notch with Physical Graffiti, featuring "Ten Years Gone," their "Visions of Johanna," i.e., the most beloved song by the die-hard fans.
Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen and many others have also made their obligatory double record, but perhaps the best of them all is not by one of the titans of rock listed above but by The Clash. Song for song, in terms of creating a vibe and never letting go, London Calling might be the best double ever.
The art of the double has more or less vanished in the CD era. Smashing Pumpkins made one that was a textbook example of a double that should have been a single. A young Wilco pulled it off with Being There in 1996. And Radiohead could have made one for the ages had they released Kid A and Amnesiac as one. Amazingly, U2, who loves nothing more than to grab the classic rock bull by the horns, has never attempted it. Considering it takes them five years to make a single album, it's just as well.
This takes us to the newest RT poll: What is the greatest double record of all time? Cast your vote now in the upper right hand corner of RT.
Happy Birthday Bob!
Thursday, May 20, 2010
“Rocks Off,” Track 1 on Side 1 of Exile on Main Street, is rarely brought up as one of The Rolling Stones' all-time greatest album openers. But this is understandable when your canon of kick-offs also includes “Paint It, Black,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Gimme Shelter,” “Brown Sugar,” “Miss You” and “Start Me Up.”
Nevertheless, “Rocks Off,” a propulsive, grimy tale of sexual frustration and jet-setting decadence sets the tone for Exile perfectly. I recently came across the following clip on YouTube which marries the tune to super-8 footage of the band shot by Robert Frank, the great photographer behind Exile's cover and whose 1956 travelogue The Americans is the Exile on Main Street of art photography books.
Frank, with a great photographer's eye, has a way of saying volumes about the band and their time just by showing them walking around Coney Island and driving in their car.
Frank also filmed a legendary documentary about the band, following them on their 1972 mega-tour across the US. I won't repeat the film's name here but its two-word title combines euphemisms for a rooster and a lollipop, along with the type of music the Stones started out playing.
The film, which shows the private jets, hotel rooms, boredom, repetition, hangers-on and, when time allows, amazing music that accompanies life on a major rock tour, was cinema verite to a fault, to the point that the band never released it. In fact, Mick Jagger told Frank that he loved the film, but he feared that if it was released commercially, the band would never be allowed back in the States.
So while the film is not available on DVD and probably never will be, it is on YouTube in 10 parts. Here’s part 1. You can see the other parts here. I have only watched a couple segments but while the way the roadies treat the groupies while the band looks on is geniuinely offensive, the film itself is a fascinating look at the World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band at the last time when the moniker was, if anything, an understatement.
Be sure to vote in the latest, greatest RT Poll in the upper right corner!
Monday, May 17, 2010
The publicity junket for tomorrows re-release of the Rolling Stones' 1972 masterpiece Exile on Main Street reached a fever pitch last week on of all places, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Mr. Fallon took his music credibility to the Nth level last week by devoting each show to artists covering tracks from the sprawling, tres decadent double LP, with truly revelatory results. Artists including Keith Urban, Green Day and Sheryl Crow transcended their mainstream leanings with some inspired versions of Exile nuggets.
Green Day, "Rip This Joint"
Sheryl Crow, "All Down the Line"
Keith Urban, "Tumbling Dice"
Taj Mahal, "Shine A Light"
Phish, "Loving Cup"
Yes that was Keith Richards introducing Phish. The great raconteur swung by for a cameo and a Marlboro...
...And once he found his way, sat down for a rare, extremely entertaining interview with Mr. Fallon.
And another cat from the Stones, Mick Jagger, stopped by as well. And Fallon brought the funny big time with his dead-on Jagger impersonation.
Jagger swung by to show a super-long promo clip of "Stones in Exile" a must-see documentary about the making of Exile, which is almost as legendary as the record itself.
Kudos to Mr. Fallon and all involved. May the Good Lord Shine A Light on you.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Cover tunes tend to fall into two camps: the relatively straight-ahead, reverent cover that shows respect and pays homage, but brings nothing much new to the table. But others fall thrillingly outside the expected and take a song into parts heretofore unknown, bringing out something in a song you never dreamed existed.
Case in point: a cover of Wilco's "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" by fellow Chicagoans JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound. Here they take Wilco's dawn of the 21st century dirge, the opening track to their opus Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and turn it into a juke-jointing, sweaty, stomping slice of soul in the great tradition of Otis Redding and Solomon Burke.
I confess to knowing nothing about JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound other than the fact that they both swing and rock, look cool, and know how to take a song and make it their own. But I plan to learn much more about them and hopefully see them live someday. You can learn more as well by visiting their MySpace page here. And you can buy their awesome Wilco cover on iTunes at the link below.
Buy JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound's "Get It Together" b/w "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" on iTunes here.
What are your favorite, most unexpected cover tunes? Rock Turtleneck wants to know. Leave a comment below and maybe we'll throw it up on the site for aging hipsters the world over to see and enjoy.
Let's take things out with the original: a fantastic live version of "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" from 2009 by Wilco: discordant, disturbing, apocalyptic yet soothing — and equally thrilling in its own way.
Saturday, May 08, 2010
With its gospel flavor and allusions to "Mother Mary," it would be easy for one to mistake The Beatles' "Let it Be" for some sort of Bibilical allegory along the lines of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" or something by The Band or Blind Faith, who were very much into that kind of thing at the time.
But the "Mother Mary" in "Let it Be" is not that Mary, but Mary McCartney, mother of Paul McCartney, who died of breast cancer when Paul was a wee lad of 14 in Liverpool (that's young Macca on the right). A couple years later, he was at a church fete where he met a rough & tumble scruff named John Lennon, who had also lost his mum when she was hit by a drunk-driving off-duty policeman. The two bonded quickly over their mutual losses and love of rock & roll and went on to some success as The Quarrymen and later The Beatles.
"Let it Be," of course, was recorded in early 1969 at a low ebb of The Beatles career in terms of their ability to relate to one another. The song has also been seen as Paul's message to his mates, to just let their partnership end and accept it. But even though they were all majorly bummed out, it still made for some amazing music.
With its beautiful melody and timeless words of wisdom betwixt mother and child, "Let it Be" is perhaps the ultimate Mother's Day song. The piano intro gives me chills every time I hear it - and it's been a lot of times.
The Let it Be film and LP was released 40 years ago this week. But the film has still yet to make it to DVD. Fortunately, it is on YouTube in its entirety. Here's part 1 of 9, You can find the rest of them there. Happy Mother's Day.
Mother's Day Bonus: John Wayne presents Paul & Linda McCartney with the 1971 Grammy for Best Film Soundtrack for Let It Be
Friday, May 07, 2010
Rock Turtleneck continues EXILE IN MAY STREET, our salute to the May 18 expanded reissue of the Stones' 1972 classic double with one of my favorite YouTube clips by the Stones or anyone else: Mick & the Boys' legendary Montreaux Tour Rehearsals from May, 1972.
This YouTube trilogy features run-throughs of the Exile classics "Tumb- ling Dice," "Shake Your Hips" and "Loving Cup," plus some good old blues jamming.
This is the Stones at their absolute peak, with the greatest four-album streak in history in their pocket and a young gunslinger playing lead. Sit back and marvel at their offhand awesomeness. Now that the band has stuck a crowbar in their archive vault door, why not open it a bit more and release a DVD of the complete rehearsal sessions?
While you're here, be sure to vote in The RT Poll in the upper right hand corner. Vote early and vote often! Cheers.
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
The ever-increasing popularity of Cinco de Mayo may be due to the growing Mexican population in the US, but more likely, it's because two drinking-oriented holidays per year (New Year's & St. Paddy's Day) just weren't cutting it. I don't know anyone who washes down a Chimichanga with six shots of Cuervo because 150 years later they're still so jazzed about Mexico's victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla.
Since Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday un falso, what better way to celebrate than with some of the folso-est Mexican music ever created? Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass whipped up an intoxicating, super-sexy instrumental salsa fresca sound that was the soundtrack to countless key parties in the late 1960s.
In this day and age of Justin Bieber and The Black Eyed Peas, it's hard to fathom this collection of bellhop-attired Spanish-American band geeks topping the charts, but they did, again and again. In this promotional video from 1966, which features "Tijuana Taxi," " The Lonely Bull," "A Taste of Honey" and "Zorba the Greek," they even emulate The Beatles in A Hard Day's Night, running from their fans into a getaway car, only in this case, there don't seem to be any fans.
In addition to being un hombre de trumpet muy caliente, Herb Alpert was also one of the savviest music moguls of his era, he being the "A" in A&M Records. Million-selling members of the A&M stable included the Captain & Tennille, Styx, Supertramp, Peter Frampton, Squeeze, Joe Jackson, Janet Jackson and The Police.
And while the Tijuana Brass' music has acquired more than a bit of camp over the years, it's still ideal for downing margaritas and a bowl of chips and salsa on your deck or rooftop. It should also be noted that the group was responsible for perhaps the greatest LP cover of all time, Whipped Cream & Other Delights. You're welcome.
Now let's go out with HA&TB's ode to the 60s version of a roofie, "Spanish Flea," which appropriately enough, was also the theme to that swinginest of game shows, The Dating Game. Happy Cinco de Mayo!
Monday, May 03, 2010
Unlike their peers The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Neil Young, The Rolling Stones have generally resisted plundering their unreleased material and sharing it with the masses. But that finally seems to be changing.
The Stones' forthcoming – and fourth, by my count – reissue of their tres decadent opus Exile on Main Street contains a full CD of unreleased tunes from their globe-trotting, booze swilling, wife swapping sessions in England, the South of France and L.A.
Exile redux comes out on May 18, but they have whetted our collective appetites with a newly unearthed track called “Plundered My Soul.”
"Plundered' finds our boys very much in the “Tumbling Dice” mode, with the loose, dank basement vibe that so many have tried in vain to reproduce. But Sir Mick Jagger, who is more fond than the others of staying contemporary, went in and redid some lyrics and vocals. He sounds more or less the same as he did back in ’72, only now he sounds like someone on a diet of age-defying workouts, not bourbon and Bianca.
The accompanying video makes clever use of the famous Robert Frank Exile cover, bringing the kaleidoscopic freak show that was the Stones circa 1972 to life.
“Plundered my Soul” also marks the return of another Mick: Mick Taylor, he of the epic lead guitar tones that mark the Stones’ best work from 1969's Let it Bleed to to the mid-70s. Relations between Taylor and the Stones have been notoriously frosty since he quit in ’76 or so. I don’t know whether they brought Taylor back to freshen up his leads because Ron Wood is having problems with booze and broads, because they thought it would be good PR for the album, or because they genuinely wanted him on the record. Whatever Mr. Jagger's motives, having Mr. Taylor back is a cause célèbre indeed.