My iPod has been playing Exile on Main Street pretty much on repeat for the last week… this is my third phase of Exile in the last year; each wave more powerful than the last.
There is something purely life affirming and heavenly about this record. The songs are wonderful (especially Rocks Off, Rip This Joint, Loving Cup, Soul Survivor), the lyrics cool (“I’m drifting through the days at lightning speed”), the music eclectic (gospel, R’n’B, soul, rock’n’roll, boogie woogie, country) … all make this album a work of real mastery.
But above all, the instrumentation and Keith’s voice in the background – except in Happy where he leads – lend this album something unexpressably great. The sheer work that went in to producing the laziest, easiest sound you’ll ever hear is evident when you listen to Sweet Black Angel. On first listen, the song sounds like a messy pile of old blues and dischordant voices, complete with percussion. As you listen and listen, the complexity of the sound comes out – the layers, the tones, the rhythm. This might be the best non electric song ever recorded by a rock and roll band, whatever that means. And then the shudder as the harmonica shakes off a chord.
The key to why I like Exile above all else must be the Trux connection. I can hear Neil singing but it’s Keith. I can see Jennifer arranging and perfecting, but it’s Keith again. It’s widely recognised (well, as widely as anything like this could be) that Neil Hagerty was the driving force behind Pussy Galore‘s cover of the Exile album (something I’m still trying to lay my hands on). You can feel the influence in Trux records – and there’s nothing wrong with being influenced by the best. It’s rhythm and blues – the real thing. Let’s reclaim that genre for decent music. I hate this utter trash that masquerades as RnB.
Oh you can see Cocksucker Blues while you listen to this – the band standing, their entourage consumed by addiction and decadence. The core stable. This is the best album ever recorded by anyone. It’s that simple. And I swear an oath that I’ve never said that about any other album, whatever Gemma might have you think. And it beats Sticky Fingers hands down. Over produced those fingers, and all structured.
Keith will next be seen playing Capt. Jack Sparrow’s father in Pirates of the Caribbean… out next year (I think).