I’ve always rated the Stones above the Beatles, ‘cos they’ve got more soul. But somehow I’ve never owned Exile, which didn’t stop me scoffing at the “Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Record Ever” tag. What about Let It Bleed? That’s the pinnacle.
But having bought the reissue, now I get it: Exile is not the greatest Stones record, it’s the greatest rock ‘n’ roll record. It oozes guitar, drums, bass, horns, sex, drugs, glamour, danger, humour and chaos. Mick’s mesmerising drawl, Keef’s brilliantly just-held-together guitar, and a rhythm section for the ages. It almost doesn’t work, it’s constantly in the balance, and yet somehow they bring it home. It’s the essence or what it means to be a down and dirty rock star. Rock and roll baby.