Stones In Exile – DVD Review

Stones In Exile5 stars

Stone in Exile is the DVD release of the famed film that debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May when The Rolling Stones shut down an entire street as fans lined up to see the official documentary about the recording of the 1972 album Exile On Main Street. The doc, which was endorsed and created with the assistance of the band, is nothing like the VH1 Classic Albums series which is approached from a modern viewpoint. Stones In Exile was produced with a feel and style as if it was made in 1972 – it’s like taking a time warp back in time to watch and listen to the recording of one of the best rock albums of all time.

There have been many stories and myths about the recording of Exile On Main Street, but this film clears up the rumours and shows the true story of how it all happened. It begins when the band chose to avoid its tax problems by leaving their native England for the immunity of France. The band and its entourage arrived in France and eventually got to the business of recording the album. Plagued with drugs, alcohol and late night recording sessions, it was interesting to see how they functioned and what their state of mind was in when they made the recordings. When it came time to be serious and make the final recordings, the energy and creativity was incredible.

The film is also very blunt and doesn’t avoid discussing the tension in the member’s relationships at the time. Most of the recording was done at Keith Richards’ rented mansion during the peak of his addiction. The film shows the Rolling Stones’ indulging themselves on drugs while recording and one scene depicts the eight-year-old son of a backing musician telling the filmmakers that his job was to roll marijuana joints for people who want to smoke. It was clearly a sign of the times and the drug use could have been left out of the film, but it would have lost its integrity as an authentic look at what really happened.

The DVD also comes with a series of extras, including fan comments and the original unedited newer interview footage with the Stones themselves. By far, this is the best way to become part of the Stones phenomenon in the 70s and it puts other documentaries about classic albums to shame. To Stones fans this is pure GOLD, to rock n’ roll fans, it’s an entertaining history lesson about the album many believe is the greatest rock album of all time.