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Bill Janovitz, Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main St.

The single greatest rock’n’roll record of all time, okay?

If you agree with the opening sentence of the book, you don’t need to read this comment. You need to go out (or simply open another Firefox window) and buy the bloody thing. If you don’t, stick around and learn one or two things about music. If your favourite band is Led Zeppelin, you may be reading the wrong blog.

Bill Janovitz has the necessary amount of passion to do justice to the album, and he knows virtually all the anecdotes about the making of. He’s the right man to write about the myth: not so much as a musician in his own right, but because he has been a fan of the album since childhood. He grew up into the author of this book.
Although I’m surprised he doesn’t even mention Pussy Galore, who published a song-by-song cover version of the ENTIRE Exile in 1986.

After the pop forays of Between the Buttons and the psychedelic experiments of Their Satanic Majesties Request, both half-hearted attempts despite Brian Jones’ undiscussed genius, the Stones decided they were happy with just being the greatest rock’n’roll band on earth. And emerged from the sixties with a scintillating home run of albums whose sustained quality has rarely been matched by any artist in the history of recorded music. A sequence culminating, arguably, with Exile. What came after that, from Goats Head Soup onwards, was really only post-coitus.

The book is organized in two parts: first section is a general intro and second section is a song-by-song analysis.

I’m fully aware that writing a comment about a book about a record is quite ridiculous and at least twice removed from the real thing. Besides, as Frank Zappa said once, or was it Elvis Costello, “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture”.
But this is history we’re talking about.

p.s. all Zep fans can read this one. On a tangent, I’ve discovered an interesting article titled “Separated at Birth? Exile on Main St. & Physical Graffiti”.

Bill Janovitz
Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main St.
pp. 174, £9
Bloomsbury/Continuum, 2005

Giudizio: 3/5.

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