Today marks the 50th anniversary of the release of The Rolling Stones‘ classic 12th U.S. studio album, the double-disc Exile on Main St.
The 18-track collection found the British rock legends diving deep into their American roots-music influences, including the blues, country, gospel and, of course, early rock ‘n’ roll.
Exile on Main St. was the second in a streak of eight consecutive Stones studio albums that reached #1 on the Billboard 200, spending four weeks atop the chart in June and July of ’72. The record yielded two hit singles, “Tumbling Dice” and the Keith Richards-sung “Happy,” which peaked, respectively, at #7 and #22 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Other standout tracks on the album included “Rocks Off,” “Sweet Virginia,” “Loving Cup,” “All Down the Line” and “Shine a Light.”
Many tracks on Exile on Main St. were recorded in the U.K. between 1969 and 1971, at London’s Olympic Studios and Mick Jagger‘s Stargroves country house, but much of the album came together after The Rolling Stones relocated to France in 1971 as British tax exiles. While the band members were in France, the bulk of the recording was done a makeshift studio set up at a villa called Nellcôte that Richards rented near the city of Nice.
While at Nellcôte, Richards reportedly struggled with heroin addiction, causing the sessions to drag on for months. Overdubs, vocals and other additions were recorded later in Los Angeles’ Sunset Sound at sessions overseen by Jagger.
Exile on Main St. was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2012, and was ranked at #14 on Rolling Stone’s 2020 list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”
Here’s the album’s full track list:
“Rip This Joint”
“Shake Your Hips”
“Torn and Frayed”
“Sweet Black Angel
“Turd on the Run”
“I Just Want to See His Face”
“Let It Loose”
“All Down the Line”
“Stop Breaking Down”
“Shine a Light”
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