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(Credit: Jim Marshall)

Music

Keith Richards favourite song from Rolling Stones' 'Exile on Main St.'

@josephtaysom

The Rolling Stones’ relatability with their fanbase had dissipated when Exile on Main St. was released in 1972 when their reputation slumped due to their newfound status as tax exiles in the South of France. Perhaps this was why the album wasn’t met with their usual public appreciation. However, as the years have passed and revisions have continued, the record has become a stone-cold classic.

The British invasion had long been laid to rest by the time the enigmatic LP hit the shelves. With an influx of new rock and roll bands, The Stones needed to prove their relevancy. With that brewing in their mind, the band couldn’t mess around on the album or experiment too far outside their comfort zone. Instead, they delivered an explosive back to basics effort, an album that would show everyone why writing off The Rolling Stones is always a fool’s errand.

The LP was primarily recorded in a villa in Nellcóte, France, before being finished in Los Angeles, as the band evaded Britain. In total, the record boasts 18 tracks and remains a lively affair throughout, with The Stones somehow avoiding a mid-album slump and chugging through like a runaway freight train. It was an album they needed to make, and, amid all the chaos that surrounded the recording process, they guided themselves to greatness.

“It’s a long album, it’s a big album,” Keith Richards once explained in an online Q&A. “It’s always very difficult for me to pick out one baby from the other. You should try playing ‘Rip This Joint’,” the guitarist laughed, while wearing a wry smile. “That’s one of the fastest songs in this world and really keeps you on your toes.”

Despite giving a notable mention to the aforementioned track, and noting how difficult it was to pick just one of his “babies”, Richards couldn’t avoid sharing ‘Tumbling Dice’ as his favourite moment from the record. After all, it was selected as the lead single by the band back in 1972, and Keef still stands by that decision all these decades later.

“It’s always been a favourite from there,” he clarified. “I could play it all night, it’s just got such a nice groove and a flow on it. But (there’s) ‘All Down The Line’, ‘Ventilator Blues’, then there’s lesser-known ones like ‘I Just Want To See His Face’. Once I start, I could name them all. They are all my favourites,” he said proudly about the album.

Interestingly, what makes ‘Tumbling Dice’ stand out as an anomaly in the band’s repertoire, is the inexplicable absence of Bill Wyman in the studio. It meant Mick Taylor had to deputise on the bass while Mick Jagger put in a rare performance on the rhythm guitar.

“It’s obviously the most accessible and commercial song on the record,” Jagger once mused about the track to The Sun in 2010. “After ‘Tumbling Dice,’ I remember there wasn’t really a follow-up single. People said, ‘So, what are you going to release now then?’

“It’s like a good guitar-hook tune. It’s a bit like ‘Honky Tonk Women’ in a way, in the way it’s set up,” he continued. “But it was done for Exile. It’s got a lot more background vocals on it. A very messy mix. But that was the fashion in those days.” Judging from Jagger’s comments, he’s seemingly in agreement with his bandmate that ‘Tumbling Dice’ is the stand-out moment from the record, and, in truth, it’s hard to put up a case against the Glimmer Twins.

Spend the next four minutes of your day in the thrilling company of The Stones performing ‘Tumbling Dice’ from Montreaux in 1972, and see for yourself exactly why both Jagger and Richards hold so much love for this song.

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