Saturday, December 30, 1972

Will the Circle Be Unbroken charted

First posted 11/21/2008; updated 9/27/2019.

Will the Circle Be Unbroken

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band


Charted: Dec. 30, 1972


Peak: #68 US


Sales (in millions): 0.5 US


Genre: country


Quotable: “An all-star country project that worked and transcended its country and rock origins.” – Bruce Eder, All Music Guide


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

RA = Roy Acuff, MC = Maybelle Carter, VC = Vassar Clements, JM = Jimmy Martin, BBO = Bashful Brother Oswald, ES = Earl Scruggs, MT = Merle Travis, DW = Doc Watson

Disc 1:

  1. Grand Ole Opry Song [w/ JM] (Hylo Brown) [2:59] (8/4/73, #97 CW)
  2. Keep on the Sunny Side [w/ MC, DW, and ES] ( Ada Blenkhorn/J. Howard Entwisle/A.P. Carter/Gary Garett) [3:35]
  3. Nashville Blues [w/ ES] (Earl Scruggs) [3:10]
  4. You Are My Flower [w/ ES] (A.P. Carter) [3:35]
  5. The Precious Jewel [w/ RA] (Roy Acuff) [3:30]
  6. Dark As a Dungeon [w/ MT] (Merle Travis) [2:45]
  7. Tennessee Stud [w/ DW] (Jimmie Driftwood) [4:22]
  8. Black Mountain Rag [w/ DW] (traditional) [2:10]
  9. Wreck on the Highway [w/ RA] (Dorsey Dixon) [3:24]
  10. The End of the World [w/ ES] (Fred Rose) [3:53]
  11. I Saw the Light [w/ RA, ES, DW, VC, & JM] () [Hank Williams] (11/27/71, #56 CW)
  12. Sunny Side of the Mountain [w/ JM & VC] (Bryon Gregory/Harry McAuliffe) [2:14]
  13. Nine Pound Hammer [w/ MT] (Merle Travis) [2:14]
  14. Losin’ You Might Be the Best Thing Yet [w/ JM] (Edria A. Humphrey/Jimmy Martin) [2:44]
  15. Honky Tonkin’ (Hank Williams) [2:19]
  16. You Don’t Know My Mind [w/ JM] (Jimmie Skinner) [2:45]
  17. My Walkin’ Shoes [w/ JM] (Jimmy Martin/Paul Williams) [2:02]

Disc 2:

  1. Lonesome Fiddle Blues [w/ VC] (Vassar Clements) [2:41]
  2. Cannonball Rag [w/ MT] (Kennedy Jones/Merle Travis) [1:15]
  3. Avalanche (Millie Clements) [2:50]
  4. Flint Hill Special [w/ ES] (Earl Scruggs) [2:12]
  5. Togary Mountain (Walter McEuen) [2:25]
  6. Earl’s Breakdown [w/ ES] (Earl Scruggs) [2:34]
  7. Orange Blossom Special [w/ VC] (Ervin T. Rouse) [2:14]
  8. Wabash Cannonball [w/ ES] (A.P. Carter) [2:00]
  9. Lost Highway (Leon Payne) [3:37]
  10. Doc Watson & Merle Travis First Meeting (Dialogue) [1:52]
  11. Way Downtown [w/ DW] (traditional/Doc Watson) [3:30]
  12. Down Yonder [w/ DW and VC] (L. Wolfe Gilbert/arranged by Doc Watson) [1:48]
  13. Pins and Needles in My Heart [w/ RA] (Floyd Jenkins) []
  14. Honky Tonk Blues (Hank Williams) [2:22]
  15. Sailin’ on to Hawaii [w/ BBO & ES] (Beecher Kirby) [2:00]
  16. I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes [w/ MC, ES, MT, and VC] (A.P. Carter) [4:25]
  17. I Am a Pilgrim [w/ MT] (traditional) [2:55]
  18. Wildwood Flower [w/ MC and ES] (3:34) []
  19. Soldier’s Joy [w/ ES] (John McEuen/Earl Scruggs) [2:05]
  20. Will the Circle Be Unbroken [w/ MC, ES, MT, JM, VC, RA] (A.P. Carter) [4:50]
  21. Both Sides Now (Joni Mitchell) [2:19]

Review:

“With all due respect to the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, it took the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with this album to come up with a merger of rock and country music that worked for both sides and everyone involved.” AMG “Previously known for their country-rock and jug band music,” NRR the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band “was a young…band with a hippie look;” WK Roy Acuff described them as “a bunch of long-haired West Coast boys.” AZ

They wanted “to tie together two generations of musicians.” WK “The idea seemed nearly as foreign as Martians setting down in Tennessee, but the Dirt Band were Colorado hippies steeped in the genre, so there was no disputing the authenticity of the music, or its earthy appeal.” AZ “With the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band serving as catalyst and intersecting point for all of the talent involved,” AMG the album “was an all-star country project that worked (and transcended its country and rock origins).” AMG

The project, named after an Ada R. Habershon song famously re-arranged by A.P. Carter, “brought together a stellar group of musical giants of country music” NRR who were “much older and more famous from the forties, fifties and sixties, primarily as old-time country and bluegrass players.” WK Among them were Acuff, Mother Maybelle Carter, Vassar Clements, Jimmy Martin, Earl Scruggs, Merle Travis, and Doc Watson. They “had become known to their generation through the Grand Ole Opry. However, with the rise of rock-and-roll, the emergence of the commercial country’s slick ‘Nashville Sound,’ and changing tastes in music, their popularity had waned somewhat from their glory years.” WK The result was “an unprecedented collaboration” NRR that “introduced acoustic country music to a new generation of audiences and revived the careers of several of the guest performers.” NRR

“The recordings, made in Nashville, showcased traditional songs and country music classics.” NRR “Aside from the sheer joy of the performances (listen to Jimmy Martin’s ‘whoop’ on Sunny Side of the Mountain), there's great fun in hearing Roy Acuff give the boys a lesson in doing a song right the first time (and using the word hell before launching into a religious number). And Mother Maybelle wafts through like a benevolent ghost, or at least a patron saint.” AZ

“This was the first real country album that a lot of rock listeners under the age of 30 ever heard. Thus, it opened up pathways and dialogue in all directions, across several generations and cultural barriers; the dialogue between Doc Watson and Merle Travis alone was almost worth the price of admission.” AMG

“Every track on the album was recorded on the first or second take straight to two-track masters, so the takes are raw and unprocessed. Additionally, another tape ran continuously throughout the entire week-long recording session, and captured the dialog between the players. On the final album many of the tracks begin with the musicians discussing how to do the song or who should come in where, and provides a rare insight into the workmanship and approach that these highly-regarded musicians used to make their music, and how they decided to work together.” WK

“This was also one of rock’s very few multi-disc sets to be fully justified in its length and content; at a time when unnecessary double-LPs were all the rage, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and company gave a triple album that, if anything, left audiences asking for more.” AMG The band answered the call with Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Vol. 2 and Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Vol. 3. They “are not as widely acclaimed as the first,” WK although the Country Music Association did award Vol. 2 as Album of the Year in 1989.

“The Grand Ole Opry Song”
This “set the tone for the album, showing that this band – for all of their origins in rock and popular music – was willing to meet country music on its terms, rather than as a vehicle for embellishment as rock music.” AMG

“Keep on the Sunny Side”
Written in 1899 by Ada Blenkhorn and J. Howard Entwisle, it was popularized by the Carter Family through a 1928 recording.

“You Are My Flower”
The Carter Family recorded it in 1939. Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs took it to #12 on the country charts in 1964.

“Dark As a Dungeon”
Written by Merle Travis in 1946, this song about being a coal miner in a shaft mine gained popularity when Johnny Cash featured it on his live At Folsom Prison album. NPR selected the original version as one of the most important 300 American works of the 21st century.

“Tennessee Stud”
In 1959, Jimmie Driftwood wrote and recorded this song about a man and his horse and their travels. Eddy Arnold had a top five country hit with it that same year. Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, Chris LeDoux, and Jerry Reed also recorded the song.

“Black Mountain Rag”
This 1964 song by Doc Watson was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2006.

“Wreck on the Highway”
Dorsey Dixon wrote this now-classic bluegrass song about a fatal car crash in 1937. Five years later, Roy Acuff & His Smoky Mountain Boys recorded what became the best-known version. The husband-and-wife duo of Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper had a top-ten country hit with it in 1961. It was also recorded by Hank Locklin, the Louvin Bothers, and as a duet between George Jones and Gene Pitney.

“The End of the Road”
Jimmie Davis, Sons of the Pioneers, Red Foley, and Les Paul with Mary Ford recorded the song in 1941, 1957, 1961, and 1962 respectively.

“I Saw the Light”
Hank Williams wrote this country gospel song in April 1947, but didn’t release it until September 1948. In the interim, Clyde Grubb and Roy Acuff released versions of it. Chet Atkins with Jerry Reed, Pat Boone, Johnny Cash with Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, Floyd Cramer, Crystal Gayle, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, Bill Monroe, Willie Nelson with Leon Russell, Aaron Neville, Earl Scruggs, and Ernest Tubb also covered the song. The version on Will the Circle Be Unbroken was an all-star jam featuring Acuff, Scruggs, Watson, Clements, and Martin. It was the first single from the album.

“Sunny Side of the Mountain”
Hank “The Singing Ranger” first recorded the song in 1944. Later versions were recorded by Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, Lester Flatt, Jimmy Martin, Johnny Paycheck, the Stanley Brothers.

“Nine-Pound Hammer”
The song share verses with “Take This Hammer,” a prison/railroad work song which dates back to a 1915 manuscript by Newman Ivey White. In the 1920s. Most versions of the song also contain references to legendary spike driver John Henry. The first version of “Nine-Pound Hammer” dates to 1925 when folklorist Dorothy Scarborough transcribed it in her book On the Trail of Negro Folk Songs. Al Hopkins and His Buckle Busters made the first commercial recording of the song. Mississippi John Hurt recorded his version of “John Henry” in 1928 and the Lomaxes famous field recordings include several variations of the song. Lead Belly recorded it as “Take This Hammer” in 1940 and Merle Travis recorded it in 1946 as “Nine Pound Hammer Is Too Heavy,” adapting it to be about coal mining.

“Honky Tonkin’”
Hank Williams wrote and recorded the song in 1947 and had a #14 country hit with it. In 1982, his son, Hank Williams Jr., took it to #1. Waylon Jennings, Sissy Spaceck, The The, and Townes Van Zandt have also recorded the song.

“Orange Blossom Special”
Ervin T. Rouse wrote this song about the passenger train of the same name in 1938 and recorded it with Gordon Rouse a year later. The song, which has been called “the fiddle player’s national anthem,” was popularized by Bill Monroe in 1942 and was a #3 hit for Johnny Cash in 1965. It was also recorded by Chet Atkins, Charlie Daniels, Doug Kershaw, Charlie McCoy, and Billy Vaughn.

“Wabash Cannonball”
This train song originated in 1888, but was claimed by A.P. Carter when it entered the public domain in 1928. His group, the Carter Family, recorded it in 1932. Roy Acuff released it in 1938 and it hit #12 on the pop charts. Acuff’s version is in the Grammy Hall of Fame and National Recording Registry.

“Lost Highway”
Leon Payne wrote and recorded the song in 1948, but it was Hank Williams version which became popular, hitting #12 on the country charts. Don Gibson also had a minor hit with the song in 1967.

“Down Yonder”
Written in 1921, this became a top-ten song for the Peerless Quartet and Ernest Hare with Billy Jones. In 1934, Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers brought it back to the top 10 as an instrumental bluegrass song. In 1951, the song was revived again with a top-five version by Del Wood followed by top-20 versions by Joe “Fingers” Carr, Freddy Martin, Ethele Smith, Champ Butler, and Lawrence “Piano” Cook. In the UK, Johnny & the Hurricanes took their version to the top 10. Willie Nelson revisted the song just a few years later on his classic Red Headed Stranger album.

“Pins and Needles in My Heart”
Bob Atcher first charted with this song in 1943, taking it to #19 on the pop charts.

“Honky Tonk Blues”
Hank Williams wrote the song in 1951 and took it to #2 on the country charts the next year.

“I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes”
The Carter Family had a top-ten pop hit with their 1929 version. Gene Autry took it to #3 on the country charts in 1944.

“I Am a Pilgrim”
This traditional song first appeared as a hym in the 1860s. The Norfolk Jubilee Quarte recorded it in 1924. It was also recorded by the Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet (1939), Merle Travis (1947), Bill Monroe (1958), and Doc Watson with Merle Watson (1970).

“Wildwood Flower”
The Carter Family took the song to #3 on the pop charts in 1928. Hank Thompson recorded the song with Merle Travis in 1955 and had a top-five country hit with it.

“Soldier’s Joy”
This song, dating back as early as the 1760s, is one of the top ten most-played old time fiddle tunes. Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers recorded it in 1929 and Hawshaw Hawkins hit #15 on the country charts with the song in 1959.

“Will the Circle Be Unbroken”
This hymn by Ada R. Habershon and Charles H. Gabriel focused on the death, funeral, and mourning of the narrator’s mother. A.P. Carter adapted the song and The Carter Family recorded it in 1935. Their version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Multiple versions of the song have been recorded by Roy Acuff, Gregg Allman, Joan Baez, The Band, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, John Lee Hooker, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Monroe, and The Staple Singers.

“Both Sides Now”
Joni Mitchell wrote it in 1967. Judy Collins had a top 10 pop hit with her recording of it; her versions was also elected to the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Reissue:
“Originally appearing in 1972 as a three LP album, Will the Circle Be Unbroken was remastered and re-released in 2002 as a two compact disc set,” WK including “four bonus tracks, though only Foggy Mountain Breakdown is a proper song; two of the others [Warming Up for the Opry and Sunny Side] consist of warmups and studio chat, while Remember Me (featuring Doc Watson) is just a fragment.” AMG


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Saturday, November 11, 1972

11/11/1972: Stevie Wonder charts with “Superstition”

image from lossless.site


Stevie Wonder “Superstition”


Writer(s): Stevie Wonder (see lyrics here)

First charted: 11/11/1972

Peak: 11 US, 38 AC, 13 RB, 11 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US and UK)

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): 86.7


Review: Discrepancies abound regarding this song’s origin. One version says Wonder wrote it while at the drums, first playing the beat and then humming the melody. AMG Blues-rock guitarist Jeff Beck was planning a 1971 album with Motown MA-165 but when the project was abandoned, MA-165 Motown opted to release a version by Wonder. LW-133 It became his first #1 hit in nearly a decade. RS500

Another account suggests that when Wonder began his Talking Book album, Beck was a principal collaborator TB-137 and that “Superstition” grew out of the pair jamming in the studio TB-137 with Beck coming up with the drum groove while Wonder crafted the distinctive riff on clarinet. TB-137 In this more selfish version of the story, after initially offering the song to Beck, Wonder opted to keep it for himself as a single release to the dismay of Beck’s label. TB-137

Regardless of its origins, the song “was a rock/ funk crossover” AMG that furthered soul and pop music’s modern studio recording techniques MA-165 via “early use of synthesized keyboards” JA-185 and “one of the most copied and influential riffs ever written.” LW-133 When Beck finally released his own version on Beck, Bogart, Appice, it was a drum-driven rock song aided by Carmine Appice, AMG which was “nothing more than bluesy light jazz.” MA-165

After label-mate Marvin Gaye’s success with the themed album, What’s Going On, in 1971, he renogitiated his Motown contract for more royalties and artistic control. LW-133 Wonder followed suit with the company’s most lucrative contract in their history and was guaranteed complete artistic control – at only 21 years old. LW-133


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Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


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Saturday, July 8, 1972

Harry Von Tilzer: Top 30 Songs

First posted 12/8/2019.

Songwriter and vaudevillian performer Harry Von Tilzer was born Aaron Gumbinsky one hundred years ago today on 7/8/1872 in Detroit, Michigan. Also known as Harry Gumm. Died on 1/10/1946. For a complete list of this act’s DMDB honors, check out the DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry.


Top 30 Songs

Dave’s Music Database lists are determined by song’s appearances on best-of lists as well as chart success, sales, radio airplay, streaming, and awards. Many of these songs have been recorded multiple times. Only the highest-ranked version in Dave’s Music Database is included in this list. The recording artist is noted in parentheses. Songs which hit #1 on Billboard’s pop charts are noted.

DMDB Top 1%:

1. Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie (Byron G. Harlan, 1906) #1
2. On a Sunday Afternoon (J.W. Myers, 1902) #1
3. A Bird in a Gilded Cage (Steve Porter, 1900) #1
4. Down Where the Wurzburger Flows (Arthur Collins & Byron Harlan, 1902) #1
5. I Want a Girl Just Like the Girl Who Married Dear Old Dad (Peerless Quartet, 1911)

DMDB Top 5%:

6. The Mansion of Aching Hearts (Harry MacDonough, 1902) #1
7. My Old New Hampsire Home (George J. Gaskin, 1898) #1
8. Alexander (Don’t You Love Your Baby No More?) (Billy Murray, 1904) #1
9. Under the Anheuser Busch (Billy Murray, 1904)
10. Coax Me (Arthur Collins & Byron Harlan, 1905)

11. All Alone (Ada Jones & Billy Murray, 1911)
12. You’ll Always Be the Same Sweet Girl (James Harrison & James Reed, 1915)
13. And the Green Grass Grew All Around (Walter Van Brunt, 1913)
14. I Love My Wife, But Oh You Kid! (Arthur Collins, 1909)
15. All Aboard for Dreamland (Byron G. Harlan, 1904) #1
16. The Cubanola Glide (Arthur Collins & Byron Harlan, 1910)
17. All Aboard for Blanket Bay (Ada Jones, 1911)

DMDB Top 10%:

18. I Remember You (Ada Jones, 1909)
19. They Always Pick on Me (Ada Jones, 1911)
20. Knock Wood (Ada Jones & Walter Van Brunt, 1911)
21. All She'd Say Was "Umh-Hum" (Van & Schenck, 1921)
22. On the Old Fall River Line (Arthur Collins & Byron Harlan, 1914)
23. Down Where the Cotton Blossoms Grow (Frank Stanley, 1902)

DMDB Top 20%:

24. When the Flowers Bloom in the Springtime, Molly Dear (Haydn Quartet, 1907)

Beyond the DMDB Top 20%:

25. Keep the Trench Fires Going for the Boys Out There (1918)
26. IDA-HO (1906)
27. Top O’ the Mornin’ (1907)
28. Summertime (1908)
29. Taffy (1908)
30. You Can Tango, You Can Fox-Trot, But Be Sure and Hesitate (1914)


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Tuesday, June 6, 1972

David Bowie released Ziggy Stardust: June 6, 1972

Originally posted 6/6/12. Updated 2/22/13.

image from houstonpress.com


Release date: 6 June 1972
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Five Years / Soul Love / Moonage Daydream / Starman (4/28/72, #65 US, #10 UK) / It Ain’t Easy / Lady Stardust / Star / Hang on to Yourself / Ziggy Stardust / Suffragette City / Rock & Roll Suicide (4/11/74, #22 UK)

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.3 UK, 7.5 world (includes US and UK)

Peak: 75 US, 5 UK

Rating:


Review: Ziggy Stardust was “constructed as a loose concept album about an androgynous alien rock star” AMG “whose mission is to offer sex and salvation to earthlings.” TL The character was inspired by British rock singer Vince Taylor, who, after a breakdown, believed he was “a cross between a god and an alien.” WK The persona allowed Bowie to to “explore and flaunt his own hunger for stardom.” JI As Bowie said, “I became Ziggy Stardust…David Bowie went totally out the window...I got hopelessly lost in the fantasy.’” TL

Ziggy Stardust

Of course, the over-the-top theatrics are part of the reason for the album’s success. This was the first time Bowie’s “vision and execution met in such a grand, sweeping fashion.” AMG He melded a “glitzy array of riffs, hooks, melodrama, and style” AMG into an “off-kilter metallic mix” AMG that, alongside his “arty, theatrical ambitions,” TL made for “the logical culmination of glam.” AMG While Bowie didn’t invent glam, his homage to idols like Marc Bolan and Iggy Pop could be credited for “setting in motion the glam rock movement that echoed from Alice Cooper to Marilyn Manson.” TL

Starman

The album’s first single, Starman, served up a heavy dose of Bowie’s “flamboyant imagery and hard-edged pop” JI via a Top of the Pops appearance in which “Bowie, vermilion-haired in a skintight jumpsuit and painted nails, camply slung a provocative arm around Mick Ronson during the guitarist’s solo.” JI Songs like that certainly “provided plenty of stage-worthy moments when Ziggy toured in the ‘70s, but years later they still thrill.” AZ Among other gems are radio favorites like the title cut and Suffragette City They “still serve as solid excursions into the future (then and now) of rock.” AZ

Suffragette City


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Friday, May 12, 1972

The Rolling Stones released Exile on Main Street: May 12, 1972

Originally posted May 12, 2012.

image from topics.nytimes.com


Release date: 12 May 1972
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Rocks Off / Rip This Joint / Shake Your Hips / Casino Boogie / Tumbling Dice / Sweet Virginia / Torn and Frayed / Sweet Black Angel / Loving Cup / Happy / Turd on the Run / Ventilator Blues / I Just Want to See His Face / Let It Loose / All Down the Line / Stop Breaking Down / Shine a Light / Soul Survivor

Bonus Disc with 2010 Reissue: Pass the Wine/ Plundered My Soul / I’m Not Signifying / Following the River / Dancing in the Light / So Divine (Aladdin Story) / Loving Cup (alternate take)/ Soul Survivor (alternate take) / Good Time Women / Title 5

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 7.0 world

Peak: 14 US, 1 1 UK

Rating:


Review: “Few other albums, let alone double albums, have been so rich and masterful as Exile on Main Street.” AMG “Raucous, boozy, weary, violent and sex-obsessed, this double album sounds like the work of heathen outlaws, which of course it was. On the run from Fleet street mobs, narcotics officers and the Inland Revenue, the Stones holed up at Keith Richards’ chateau in the south of France and composed an epic blues that went beyond tribute and beyond blue.” TL

“Greeted with decidedly mixed reviews upon its original release,” AMG this “sprawling, weary double album” AMG “allowed the band to relax a bit.” CD It is now “regarded as the Rolling Stones’ finest album. Part of the reason why the record was initially greeted with hesitant reviews is that it takes a while to assimilate.” AMG They don’t “leap into new worlds so much as master the old ones” AZ1 as they “speed through familiar neighborhoods of country, blues, and R&B.” AZ1 For example, “no longer does their country sound forced or kitschy – it’s lived-in and complex, just like the group’s forays into soul and gospel.” AMG

The songs take “the bleakness that underpinned Let It Bleed and Sticky Fingers to an extreme.” AMG “If the late ‘60s were the Rolling Stones’ road trip through rock’s American roots, then Exile on Main Street was the stop at the highway diner.” CDU Although recorded in Keith Richard’s basement in France, “the album is rich with some of the same rootsy Southern sprit” BN as theSticky Fingers recording sessions in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. “Much of it sounds as if it was recorded live at a gospel revival. In this rich assortment of gospel and blues Mick is by no means out of his element,” CDU but Exile “found the Stones sounding more like Keith Richards’ juke-joint band than ever before.” CDU

Indeed, while “Keith Richards and Mick Taylor [are] spinning off incredible riffs and solos,” AMG “Jagger’s vocals are buried in the mix” AMG leaving him “with something akin to pure singing, utilizing only his uncanny sense of style to carry him home…His performances [prove] that there’s no other vocalist who can touch him, note for garbled note.” RS He “manages to sound intently focused and deeply stoned.” TL

Meanwhile, drummer Charlie Watts “minds the store with impeccable rhythm.” TL He has “room not only to set the pace rhythmically but to also provide the bulk of the drive and magnetism” RS while Bill Wyman, whose “bass has never been recorded with an eye to clarity…fulfills his support role with a grace that is unfailingly admirable.” RS

“In the tradition of Phil Spector, they’ve constructed a wash of sound in which to frame their songs, yet where Spector always aimed to create an impression of space and airiness, the Stones group everything together in one solid mass.” RS

The noise fest kicks off with “the hyper Rocks Off.” AZ1 “Kicked off by one of Richards’ patented guitar scratchings” RS and Jagger’s “swaggering frustration [as he sings] ‘I only get my rocks off while I’m sleeping.” AZ1 This is “a proto-typical Stones’ opener…great choruses and well-judged horn bursts, painlessly running you through the motions.” RS

Rip This Joint is a stunner, getting down to the business at hand with the kind of music the Rolling Stones were born to play. It starts at a pace that yanks you into its locomotion full tilt, and never lets up from there; the sax solo is the purest of rock and roll.” RS

“Slim Harpo’s Shake Your Hips mounts up as another plus, with a mild boogie tempo and a fine mannered vocal from Jagger. The guitars are the focal point.” RS Later, the band rework Harpo’s “Hip Shake” “into a harp-and-piano steamroller…in Ventilator BluesAZ1 with Mick “spreading the guts of his voice all over the microphone.” RS “Keith claims [it] was inspired by a grate, while the song plays like an ode to a pistol.” AZ2 Another blues cover, of Stop Breaking Down by Robert Johnson, “shows their undeniable respect for American blues.” CDU

On “the luxurious Tumbling DiceCDU “the guitar figure slowly falls into Charlie’s inevitable smack [and] the song builds to the kind of majesty the Stones at their best have always provided…Keith’s simple guitar figure providing the nicest of bridges, the chorus touching the upper levels of heaven and spurring on Jagger, set up by an arrangement that is both unique and imaginative. It’s definitely the cut that deserved the single.” RS

Tumbling Dice

That song “and Loving Cup betray their Southern gospel leanings;” CDU as do Sweet Black Angel,’ I Just Want to See His Face, and Shine a Light. “‘Sweet Black Angel,’ with its vaguely West Indian rhythm and Jagger playing Desmond Dekker, comes off as a pleasant experiment that works” RS and on “Face” “Jagger and the chorus sinuously wavering around a grand collection of jungle drums.” RS

“Producer Jimmy Miller valued atmosphere over precision in his recording techniques, so Mick Jagger competes with a wooly sax and a juke joint piano and still his vocals make Sweet Virginia feel…like a bruise that’s fun to touch.” TL It “is a perfectly friendly lazy shuffle that gets hung on an overemphasized ‘shit’ in the chorus.” RS

"Torn and Frayed has trouble getting started, but as it inexorably rolls to its coda the Stones find their flow and relax back, allowing the tune to lovingly expand.” RS Meanwhile “Happy lives up to its title from start to finish. It’s a natural-born single” RS and “the closest thing to a pop number Mick and Keith have written on the album.” RS

Happy

Turd on the Run, even belying its gimmicky title, is a superb little hustler; if Keith can be said to have a showpiece on this album, this is it. Taking off from a jangly ‘Maybellene’ rhythm guitar, he misses not a flick of the wrist, sitting behind the force of the instrumental and shoveling it along.” RS

Let It Loose…is one beautiful song, both lyrically and melodically. Like on ‘Tumbling Dice,’ everything seems to work as a body here, the gospel chorus providing tension, the leslie’d guitar rounding the mysterious nature of the track, a great performance from Mick and just the right touch of backing instruments. Whoever that voice belongs to hanging off the fade in the end, I’d like to kiss her right now: she’s that lovely.” RS

With “its overall murky adrenaline,” AZ1 Exile “sets a remarkably high standard for all of hard rock” AMG as it “caps the Stones’ great 1968-‘72 run.” AZ2 Indeed, it is “one of the most essential rock records ever created.” BN

Plundered My Soul

Following the River


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