Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Exile On Main Street is a rip-off

I love the Stones and rank Exile On Main Street as one of the greatest rock albums made by anyone, but the newly remastered Super Deluxe CD/book/DVD package of Exile and now this DVD documentary (released today) amounts to pure greed by The Rolling Stones.

For $141 (all Canadian retail figures) you get the remastered CD, another CD of outtakes, a DVD (we'll talk about that) and a hardcover book of photos. The remastered album sounds marvellous. It's warm and bright, though Mick's vocals remained buried in the mix (just what is he singing?). The outtakes however could've been better. It barely tops 40 minutes and misses key tracks such as the acoustic version of "All Down The Line." You're better off seeking a bootleg like this:
Now, the DVD: This barely tops a full hour, and consists of several scenes from the unreleased Robert Frank film of the 1972 tour, Cocksucker Blues, and a few live songs from Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones, a traditional concert doc that Eagle Vision will release later this year. The Blues footage is presented in the best condition I've ever seen, compared to numerous bootleg versions. You see the R-rated clips, not the naked-groupies-on-the-private-jet stuff that may never ever see the light of day. However, these are merely tastings, not the entire course.

The third element on the DVD are yet more samples from a new 61-minute doc about the making of Exile. So, this begs the question: Why didn't the Stones release the entire film in this expensive package?

This is a good film, but not as great as it could've been. Not every song is explored. Apart from Mick and Charlie, there is no contemporary footage of any other Stones or their associates like Anita Pallenberg, Keith's ex. The doc isn't exhaustive, though it paints a vivid picture of decadence and a slack creative process that somehow yielded an amazing album. I don't blame the filmmaker who had to work within the restrictions imposed by the Stones who paid for the film, nor was he given much time. (See my full review here.)

So, for the poor souls for shelled out nearly $150 for the super deluxe limited editon whatever, you gotta pay another $20 for a DVD you should've received already. Do the Stones need the money?

What worries me is that behaviour like this only encourages bootleggers to assemble their own "super deluxe" packages which they'll then offer free online. To be honest, the fans often do a better job of assembling these packages, because they know the material inside out and they love it. Music keeps these guys alive and they don't care for the money.

I love buying packages like this, but I don't like feeling screwed when I'm shelling out $150 for an incomplete, inferior product. Oh well, it's only rock 'n' roll.

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