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Exile on Main St.: A Season in Hell with the…

Exile on Main St.: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones (2006)

by Robert Greenfield

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Terrible. Learned almost nothing, except that Mick Jagger is apparently still a prick. ( )
  gavatx | Aug 5, 2008 |
By 1971, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones and Janis Joplin were dead and Jim Morrison soon would be. Equally troubled, the Rolling Stones, those bad boy icons of the era, took their decadent circus to the French Riviera to escape British taxes and record an album. In a slang-filled present tense, Greenfield (Dark Star: An Oral Biography of Jerry Garcia) gives good gossip about the mayhem that ensued at the Villa Nellcote, the palatial mansion—and supposed former Gestapo headquarters—that Keith Richards rented as his getaway. Greenfield tells of who slept with whom, Keith's outlaw antics and the massive amounts of drugs consumed. The central story, however, is the struggle between Keith and Mick Jagger, who was increasingly drawn to high society, typified by his marriage to Bianca Perez-Mora. A who's who of celebs passed through Nellcote that summer, including John Lennon and Yoko Ono and Gram Parsons. In the last analysis, it's amazing that the Stones managed to record an album at all, but Exile on Main Street may well be their greatest. Greenberg's writing is cliched at times, but his account is energetic. In the end, he takes sides (Keith's mostly) and settles scores, but that only ups the entertainment value. (Nov.) ( )
  addict | Dec 17, 2006 |
I am a big Stones fan, and Exile is my favorite album. I saw this in the store and picked it up on impulse. I have also read several other behind the scenes books about the Rolling Stones, as well as auto/biographies about several members. That said there is nothing in this book that is new or even very insightful.

In the realm of other works about the band this book is probably below average. It is very thin in terms of pages and content. The organization is poor, with the narrative hoping around before during and after the events around the recording of the album. It is also more about the atmosphere and very little about the actual album, recording, or musicianship. It reads as though it was 'as told to' through several layers.

The author also gets cute by addressing the audience, and bringing in literary quotes and allusions. As near as I can tell they are used as a sleight of hand to try to stop the reader from asking: how do you know this, who told you this, where you there ? At times it is hard to tell if someone is being quoted or paraphrased or if the author is presenting information from the narrative. He does use the cover of 'Stone's Insiders' to present information from people who don't want to be named, but many times it is just too vague where the information is coming from, and who is speaking.

Through out the book he champions Keith and ridicules Mick, which is a pretty tired interpretation. He describes something and then imposes his own interpretation, all without explaining who he is to the Stones, and was he there. This is his second book about them, apparently he went on tour with them once, but that hardly qualifies him for the role he assumes. He takes the current attitude of some that since they are old they should be denigrated.

The book ends with information about the present day, and the Stones, but it seems to fizzle. Almost as though he really doesn't have anything to say about the Stones or Exile, and is just looking for a way out. Not terrible, and not a hatchet job, but very mediocre. Also the writing is very rough, he lacks skill. ( )
  FicusFan | Oct 20, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 030681563X, Paperback)

Recorded during the blazing hot summer of 1971 at Villa Nellcôte, Keith Richards’s seaside mansion in southern France, Exile on Main Street has been hailed as one of the greatest rock records of all time. Yet its improbable creation was difficult, torturous...and at times nothing short of dangerous. In self-imposed exile, the Stones-along with wives, girlfriends, and an unrivaled crew of hangers-on-spent their days smoking, snorting, and drinking whatever they could get their hands on, while at night, Villa Nellcôte’s basement studio became the crucible in which creative strife, outsized egos, and all the usual byproducts of the Stones’ legendary hedonistic excess fused into something potent, volatile, and enduring. Here, for the first time, is the season in hell that produced Exile on Main Street.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:22 -0400)

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Recorded during the blazing-hot summer of 1971 in the basement of Keith Richards's palatial mansion by the sea in the south of France, Exile on Main Street freezes forever in time a moment when the Stones and their counterculture audience found themselves at a crossroads. Groundbreaking music journalist Robert Greenfield was there. Night after night for weeks on end while their wives, girlfriends, and a crew of assorted hangerson unrivalled in the history of rock smoked marijuana and hashish, snorted cocaine, drank whatever they could get their hands on, and injected themselves with heroin upstairs, the Stones descended like coal miners into a dank, humid basement to lay down tracks. Literally and figuratively, this was a record made in hell.… (more)

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