Neighborhood Jams: The Aura & Øvation

Hello friends! This week on Neighborhood Jams I am featuring the San Diegan band, The Aura & Øvation! I highly, highly recommend listening to these guys – each musician adds so much emotion with their preferred instrument. This past January they released the album, Brilliant Nights – EP, and you can purchase it on iTunes. On their website you can listen to their entire acoustic EP, read up on each member’s background, and check out a quick summary on each song from their acoustic EP. It’s absolutely great to read about the band’s feelings and thoughts on their own songs – it makes the connection between the musician and listener stronger. I loved it.

If Dashboard Confessional were to do a collaboration with Kings of Leon we would get the guys from The Aura & Øvation. They would be considered alternative rock. Lead singer and guitarist, Mike Strong, combined his instrumental skills along with his passion for poetry and, in the first song from their acoustic EP, titled Vines and Mini Blinds, Strong’s emotions and honesty shines through. You can feel the rawness in each chorus, and I believe it is truly beautiful. Alongside Strong is Jesse Richardson on guitar and bassist Paul Philips each bringing a key ingredient to the heart wrenching songs. Lastly, Chris Thiel is strumming away and keeping rhythm on drums. Thiel is three-time San Diego Guitar Center Drum-Off Champion, and his skills and techniques really round out The Aura & Øvation.

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I also really loved the songs House on Fire and On These Brilliant Nights both featured on their album Brilliant Nights – EP. Each song sounds full, powerful, and make me want to close my eyes and do a slow head bang. The guys have played at several local venues including The Tin Roof and Point Loma Nazarene University – I wish they could play at SDSU! It’s so great to find local bands filled with so much passion in their first albums. Great job guys, great job. Check out The Aura & Øvation on October 24 at PLNU’s Fall Fest.

Give these guys a like on their Facebook.

 

Photo Credit: Sarah Binsfield

The Sounds of State-Andrew DeLeon

On Thursday I showed up to the Farmer’s Market Turn Up to meet Andrew DeLeon. With him were some familiar faces, Joey Bautista who I did my first interview (he also is in charge of the KCR Secret Sessions), and former programming director Brendan Price. Andrew was eager to be interviewed, he had reached out to me on more than one occasion to volunteer. Reciprocating his enthusiasm, we went into the Communications building and sat down to have our chat. Andrew is so far the only interviewee I’ve had who I’ve know beforehand. Last year my 5-6 National Sports talk show on Wednesday was preceded by Andrew’s show The Grand Illusion. He was a great DJ to interview, giving all of my questions thoughtful responses and his full attention. In fact, this is the longest interview I’ve done so far, at almost 13 minutes. With that said, I don’t want to use any more of your time that takes away from the interview, so let’s jump right in!

Cameron Satterlee: Okay I am sitting here with Andrew, welcome.

Andrew DeLeon: Thank you.

CS: So, what is your radio slot for KCR?

AD: This semester I’m doing Tuesdays from one to two. I just figure it works with the class schedule I had, and work schedule, trolley schedule. I pretty much just take what I can get as long as there’s time for classes in there.

CS: Uh huh. You’re pretty flexible with what time you get?

AD: Yeah you know as long as it’s not too late cause [the] trolley. And then early because I did a show at 8 am one semester and that didn’t turn out too well. We were still in transition and there was a bunch of tech problems so I would try to call them and no one would answer. We didn’t quite have Alex yet.

CS: Oh man yeah I don’t think I’d do an 8 am slot to be honest. I mean that’s good for you, you stepped up and took the bullet pretty much.

AD: I had to, that was all they could give me. I was willing to try, I adjusted though, it worked.

CS: Yeah. So how long have you been with KCR?

AD: This is my sixth semester. Interesting story on how I joined–

CS: Wow I’d like to hear it.

AD: Yeah I’m sure they would too. I was in psychedelic rock class. This was my freshman year, I was just taking this for credits. I didn’t care about the whole upper division, you have to take it at a certain time thing. I’m like “you know what? I’m gonna take psychedelic rock class, this will be fun.” And the guy I sat next to, really tall guy, kinda looked like Kurt Cobain, he asked “what do you want to do?” And I mentioned you know sports broadcasting or radio or tv, something like that. Even if it’s just some behind the scenes work, I’m good with that. And he said “oh why don’t you join the radio station, KCR?” I said “oh I didn’t know that there was one on campus.” And he told me I think the semester before they were still trying to transition–get it going–but the semester I joined what when it really started taking off. John was there, Lincoln was there and it was really the rebuilding years when I joined and now I’m happy to be here when it’s a big part of the campus now.

CS: Yeah I mean that’s sort of the eternal struggle for KCR is getting people actually on our own campus to know about us.

AD: Well look at it now. We have a what hundred members or something?

CS: Yeah we’re doing very well for ourselves. I mean guys like you who show up and become dedicated to your show is what really sets us off I think.

AD: Right, and I know I don’t volunteer as much as I should but I’ve tried to do my best here and at least wear my shirt whenever I do the show so that way people will know “KCR listen in.”

CS: Yeah yeah totally. So but you wanted to go into the radio, the field, before you joined.

AD: Right because in high school I really started getting into baseball. I had already been a fan but I was thinking “you know what someone’s got to take Ted Leitner’s job eventually.” Make sure that no one calls anyone else a moron again (laughs). That was hilarious, I give Ted credit for that. That was funny. Gotta love him.

CS: Gosh I feel you with the baseball thing. Well so, I guess I’m gonna take this in a different direction but so you currently have a music show and you’ve had one for a while.

AD: Right.

CS: It’s actually funny, so I guess I’ll say this for the benefit of the listeners, but Andrew, last semester, preceded my show. My sports hour. So we knew each other before then. So I kind of know the answer this question, but for the audience, what is the music you like to play?

AD: Good stuff. Good stuff.

CS: Good stuff?

AD:And by that I mean classic rock. A lot of the shows on campus now they do Indie and folk and rap and hip hop, there’s a little much of that. Some stuff is okay, others…I mean play what you want to play I got nothing against that. But I thought “you know what? I’ll play my music” cause in high school–here’s the sad thing I graduated from Ridgemont High people didn’t know who The Beatles were at that school anymore. I would literally walk through Clairemont High School and people would say “who are The Beatles?” so I thought “you know what with this show I gotta do something about this.” So I took the classics, mix in with a little new things, and pretty much revive the genre and it’s surprising how many people like you and Jackson always come in and say “oh yeah these songs are awesome” and so many people I’ve met through this station they’re like “oh wow that’s awesome that you do that. That you play all these things.” Hell Alex and Brendan always sit in on my show, I always catch them dancing or singing. Everytime I play Huey Lewis, Brendan always shouts “HUEY” or I’ll dedicate a song to him and be like “this is for him, this is Phil Collins” and he’ll be like “ah you’re playing Phil Collins again,” yup that’s correct. And Alex just dances in the background, so awesome.

CS: You seem very passionate about your work. Rock music, I mean it’s its own genre and I guess at this point in rock music’s history you could say classic rock is its own separate sphere than what’s going on now.

AD: Yeah.

CS: Is there anything a bit more specific than classic rock you play? Like any real genre music?

AD: I suppose it’s not genres it’s more themes. What I do is try and set a theme each week and then I’ll take, sometimes I’ll take disco, sometimes I’ll take some country and do that just to mix it up, but then I take the rock songs and I’ll say you know “okay there’s soft rock so I’ll do soft rock this week”. Or there’s a bunch of metal songs so I’ll do some full metal jacket this week. Or sometimes I’ll incorporate sports, I’ll play songs that would be played at baseball games. You were there when the dancing friars came in.

CS: Yeah that was interesting. Yeah I remember those themes now that you bring it up.

AD: Yeah, so it’s not so much as a genre thing as it’s more of a thematic [show], but it’s more based on the rock genre I guess.

CS: Yeah and so each show is different. You’re not just sorta playing off the same playlist every week, you’re mixing it up.

AD: Right. Yeah I even make a point to do that. I say “okay I already played that song this semester, I’m not going to play that again” or at least make an attempt not to. So that way I don’t have repeats. Sometimes I listen to the stations and it’s the same set of songs every couple of days. Or I’ll drive to work, I’ll have on Easy and I’ll hear–for some reason they play In The Air Tonight on the Easy station–so I’ll hear that and then I’ll drive to work like two days later. I just heard this at the same time. So I try to mix it up a little bit. Make it interesting.

CS: Yeah yeah. So yeah I think that’s a great way to do things, it keeps things very interesting and different so that’s a cool thing you do. So I’m curious why classic rock? Why is it important to you? I mean you like it but why do you like it? Why is it important to you?

AD: Because the stuff that people produce now has no instruments and there’s almost no thought to a lot of it. There is thought, I do give people like Taylor Swift and you know some of the country people credit but a lot of the pop stuff now–I mean like that song Turn Down For What by Lil John, what is that? I mean he just says what so much he’s like “I’ll write a song with the word what in it.” It doesn’t make sense anymore.

CS: Well that’s interesting. I mean that’s kind of a negative perspective to look at it. You listen to classic rock because music now isn’t that interesting to you.

AD: Right. I mean I’m not saying all of it is, I’m just saying there’s certain parts of where it just seems that the creativity isn’t what it used to be anymore.

CS: Well I mean that could be a whole different discussion that leaves us here for twenty minutes.

AD: Exactly.

CS: Well but I’m curious if there’s sort of a more–cause you probably looked at in the sense that “oh I like this classic rock music, so this music doesn’t look so good to me.” Which I understand, I’m a classic rock guy, I’m trying to you know contemporize myself but it can be difficult, I’ll admit. But what made you like the rock music in the first place? That’s what I’m trying to get to.

AD: Right. I guess it’s because when I was little my mom played a lot of the stuff. She played some newer stuff too so I kind of evolved around that. But then, a lot of the stuff–like when I was in elementary school or middle school I would just hear this–some of this stuff and I thought “eh, new stuff doesn’t really appeal to me.” And I’d listen to the older stuff and like “okay this is good. I like this.” So I just rolled with it.

CS: Yeah I feel that’s how a lot of people in our generation got to like classic rock. I mean you brought it up earlier that there may not be so many of us in proportion to the actual population. How it used to be where rock was the big thing, the big genre. But there still are a good number of people who know what it is. But I think that you’re right that it comes from our parents you know, and just absorbing the music through other media.

AD: Yeah and you go to rock concerts now and there’s still a good turn up of teenagers. I went to The Monkees concert over at Humphrey’s, I think it was last year, yeah it was last year, and there was a kid probably about sixteen-seventeen dressed up looking exactly like Mike Nesmith.

CS: (laughs) That’s awesome.

AD: Yeah so you know that there’s people that are really influenced by this. I mean The Scorpions concert I went to, there was a lot of little kids there.

CS: Yeah. Alright so this is gonna be interesting because a lot of the people I interview, since they listen to contemporary music, the new music that gets released is what they’re obsessing over. But classic rock, unless they are artists who are still releasing music that sounds similar. I mean like Pink Floyd just dropped a new album.

AD: And it’s already up to number one.

CS: And that’s a whole different thing. But I’m curious since the classic rock music has already been released, by definition, but is there anything that you’re still just discovering? Any new bands where you’re just like “oh hey I should have listened to these guys before, this is great.” Like a recent obsession. It could be a band or a song or an album.

AD: I’ve been listening to some country, I think it’s cause I went to the Vince Gill concert. So I’ve been listening to some of that. Oh I listened to The Eagles a lot earlier in this semester cause they were coming here and cause I was watching History of The Eagles. It really depends who’s coming in concert. The only one I think I really didn’t listen to a lot before or after the concert was Chris Isaak cause I’m not a huge fan of his. He’s alright you know I respect him. I like what he’s doing, just haven’t been given a chance to listen to a lot of his music. And the one song I heard, Dancin, I was thinking “yeah it’s okay,” not totally my cup of tea.

CS: Alright yeah great, I’ll be sure to put up links to those songs for the blog. So here’s a fun last question. So what would be your ideal show? How would it go?

AD: It would probably either be the dancing friars show that I had last semester or the one I just had on Tuesday where I played the whole Sgt. Pepper album.

CS: Oh wow that’s awesome. That’s really interesting cause I mean I’m a sports DJ but I’ve kinda wanted to do a music show, it’s just hard to you know get two slots. But I was thinking I’d want to play whole albums. That’s great that you’re doing it.

AD: I had this theme all set. I was thinking “well I’ll do 50’s music.” I was gonna do that and then I thought, “well, there’s one more I gotta do before the Christmas themes. Why don’t I move that back and and I thought, ooh Sgt. Pepper, I haven’t done a whole Beatles show.” So in honor of George Harrison and John Lennon’s deaths since those are coming up, the anniversaries, I figured might as well play some Beatles songs. In addition to the Sgt. Peppers so I just had a whole Beatles show. I even mentioned the Manson story, about him getting married. That was kinda weird. But it made for a good story.

CS: Yeah, if nothing else (laughs). Yeah wow, so this has been a great interview by the way, I mean few people totally go all out on the easy questions I ask but you’ve been you know very open about your whole idea with your shows. I think it’s great. You’re a flag bearer the classic rock movement here at KCR, and so thanks for sitting down with me, it’s been great.

AD: Yeah no problem, and Ted Leitner you’re doing good but I want your job so be on the lookout. I’m coming. I want to work with Bob Scanlan.

CS: (Laughs) Alright thanks.

AD: You’re welcome.

So there you have it, we got some KCR history to go along with our music discussion. Andrew and I hung out a while longer before we had to split up. I had to enjoy the Farmer’s Market after all and score some Pad Thai. Remember to listen to Andrew from 1-2 on Tuesdays and KCR anytime online. Thanks for reading!

The Goldmine-Quadrophenia by The Who

It’s the last post of the semester folks, and to finish off this blog series with a bang I’ve decided to end with a profile of The Who’s legendary rock opera Quadrophenia. Released in 1973, Quadrophenia was the third and last of Pete Townshend penned rock operas for The Who following Tommy in 1969 and the aborted Lifehouse project which became the wildly successful Who’s Next album in 1971. As a rock opera, the double album tells a single narrative story with recurring lyrical and musical themes. The story’s protagonist is a teenager named Jimmy, who lives in Britain in the mid-1960’s and is a member of the trendy Mod subculture. Back in the early 1960’s the Mods were a fashionable British youth scene that helped to popularize The Who.

The main feature surrounding the story and ideas in Quadrophenia is the number four. Quadropenia was written by Pete Townshend with the intention of having it play in quadrophonic (four speaker) surround sound. The album’s name itself is a play on words with the mental disorder schizophrenia, or dissociative personality disorder, often called multiple personalities. The protagonist Jimmy displays four separate personalities, each embodied by the four band members of The Who. Throughout the album, these four lyrical and musical themes repeat themselves as the story progresses. So without further ado, let’s dive into Quadrophenia!

Side A

The first song is the short piece I Am the Sea, it is a form of overture that introduces each of the lyrical personality themes in a ghostly/echoing manner as recordings of the ocean play over them.

Suddenly the listener is shaken awake to the track The Real Me. For a band as rocking as The Who, it’s impressive that this is one of their hardest rockers. It begins the story of young Jimmy Cooper, with poor Jimmy trying a doctor, his mother, and a preacher to help him with his emotional issues, hinting at his multiple personalities from the start. The song is known for John Entwistle’s bass guitar performance. Entwistle was unparalleled as a bassist and showcases his talents well on this track.

The next song is the instrumental title track. The song Quadrophenia introduces all of the musical themes that repeat throughout the album and as such is a more fleshed out companion piece to I Am the Sea, w. When compared to the instrumental tracks on the Tommy album, the change that The Who had made in the few short years between the recordings is evident. Whereas Tommy was based around acoustic and electric guitars interplaying with Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon’s rhythm section, Quadrophenia is much more oriented around synthesizers and piano to go along with Townshend, Entwistle, and Moon’s regular instruments.

The next song is Cut My Hair, which details Jimmy attempting to fit into the Mod’s fashion culture. Jimmy wants to belong with his friends but can’t seem to find any solace in the scene. The chorus has a call back to The Who’s song I Can’t Explain, their earliest hit back in their Mod days. The track ends with a recording of a radio report detailing the fights between rival Mod and Rocker groups.

The final song on the first side is The Punk and the Godfather, and contains another lyrical reference to an early Who song, this time My Generation. The Punk and the Godfather slyly enough is talking about The Who themselves, as Jimmy sees one of their concerts in their early days and remarks how they became successful only thanks to the support of their Mod fans as they made fools of themselves destroying their equipment every night. It’s another source of disappointment for Jimmy, who had idolized and followed the band.

Side B

The second side of the album begins with I’m One. Sung by Pete Townshend, the song shows Jimmy at a crossroads. He is admits having issues but still has the optimism that he can turn things around for himself as his life is slowly deteriorating. When played live, Pete Townshend would often perform the song solo, with only his acoustic guitar.

Turning the vocal reigns back to lead singer Roger Daltrey, the next track is much more of a Who rocker. The Dirty Jobs describes Jimmy’s attempts at getting by now that he has been thrown out of his house. With his newfound resolve being tested by various circumstances that keep forcing him to find new employment, Jimmy keeps on trying to improve his situation.

The third track on side B is Helpless Dancer, and it is lead singer Roger Daltrey’s personal theme. Accompanied by beating piano and John Entwistle’s French horn arrangement, Daltrey sings about Jimmy’s further grief that is making it harder and harder for him to keep on pushing ahead, and eventually quitting altogether. The song ends with a recorded playing of one of The Who’s early hits, The Kids are Alright.

Following up Helpless Dancer is the song Is It in My Head? Where Jimmy further questions his mental problems that have made him quit working to support himself. The track itself contains instrumental arrangements very similar to Who’s Next material, with the acoustic/electric guitar and synthesizer in the background.

The first album ends with the furious rush of the song I’ve Had Enough. The song begins with a reprise of Jimmy’s theme declaring his yet unwavering support of the Mod movement. Following that is the first instance of the ‘Love Reign O’er Me’ theme outside of the instrumental tracks, which will further be utilized in the second album. The song is fairly self-explanatory, with Jimmy declaring that he is finally through with his Mod lifestyle and everything surrounding his alienating adolescent upbringing. The song ends with Roger Daltrey screaming that Jimmy has “had enough of trying to love,” beckoning the listener to the second album to see where the story will go from here.

Side C

The second album begins with a surge of energy in the form of the song 5:15. The song describes Jimmy hopping on a train to the Brighton beach, where he had his best memories as a mod that he seeks to relive. The song is a rip roaring and rollicking piece that captures Jimmy’s mood as he rides the train hyped up on drugs towards the beach. Intercut with tender and introspective moments, the song manages to balance both the light and heavy elements of the thematic material unfolding.

The second track is Sea and Sand, taking place on the Brighton beach and following Jimmy’s thoughts as he contemplates all that has gone on so far. He laments the loss of his girlfriend as well as his complete isolation from his Mod group, who he once completely identified with. Sea and Sand is almost a mini-version of the album itself, telling much of the story and Jimmy’s internal issues. It ends with Daltrey singing lines from one of The Who’s earliest tracks, I’m the Face, back when the group itself was synonymous with the Mod scene as the band The High Numbers.

The following track is Drowned, a rocking tune that is sequenced with Jimmy contemplating renting a boat to go drown himself in the ocean and find peace for his tortured mind. The song was originally written by Pete Townshend for Meher Baba as early as the Tommy album in 1969. Baba was a spiritual guide of Townshend’s and contributed one of the two names to the hit Who song Baba O’Riley.

The final song on the third side of the album is Bell Boy, drummer Keith Moon’s thematic song. In the story, before Jimmy can get to rent his boat he runs into ‘Ace-Face,’ one of the chief Mod leaders who Jimmy used to look up to. Moon himself infamously sang the vocals of Ace-Face on Bell Boy which was a huge crowd pleaser. Jimmy is aghast that Ace-Face has degenerated from a leader of Mod gangs to the titular bell boy of the hotel that they used to take advantage of. Jimmy now finds himself absolutely disgusted with the Mod lifestyle that he used to proudly subscribe to. Jimmy finds no solace in his trip to Brighton to find some kind of reconciliation between himself and his past as a Mod, and is now even more distraught after seeing the fallen Ace-Face.

Side D

The last side of the double album contains only three songs, but they are a very hard hitting finale to the album. The first song on this quarter of the double album is Doctor Jimmy, a furious and bombastic surge of energy and (warning) salty language. Jimmy gets a bottle of gin and drowns his sorrows along with more pills, and at this point in the story has gone mad. Between his compulsive rages where he echoes Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide with his Doctor Jimmy and Mister Jim, he has moments of clarity, where he asks himself which part of his personalities is the real him. The “Is it me” lyric is bassist John Entwistle’s theme on the album, and the song itself features much of his French horn accompaniment. The whole album really displays a much better use of Entwistle’s French horn skills, which aside from Tommy only really was utilized in a campy manner.

The bridge between Doctor Jimmy and the finale is the instrumental piece The Rock. It contains once again the suite of musical themes that represent all of Jimmy’s personalities with new inflections. The song is a great work at displaying The Who’s collective musical talents. As the track is instrumental, there aren’t any lyrics to tell the story, but Jimmy has followed through with his plan to buy a boat and go out to sea. Instead of drowning himself he lands on a rocky island, but after going ashore his boat has floated away, stranding him.

The album closes with the sounds of rain that bring on the song Love Reign O’er Me. It is guitarist Pete Townshend’s musical and lyrical theme and the finale to Jimmy’s story. After finding himself alone on the rock with life’s pressures no longer driving him mad, Jimmy realizes that he has been wrong to reject love. He knows that by going back to land he will have to endure the life that has so far plagued and haunted him, but he must go back in order to experience love. Jimmy realizes that love, even if just a fleeting moment of it, is the most powerful spiritual force, and to experience it makes life worth living. The song offers a climactic finale to the album and features Roger Daltrey’s finest vocal performance, in full rock god mode he screams at the top of his voice as the music crashes all around him like the emotional storm Jimmy has endured during the events of the record.

Quadrophenia often plays second fiddle to The Who’s first and more well-known rock opera Tommy, however among fans who have listened to both, it is hard to find any consensus. One thing I will say is that in instrumentation and mixing in general, the five years in between the release of the two albums saw huge advances in The Who’s abilities, specifically Pete Townshend’s ability to write, arrange, and record complex music and lyrics. The album is a tour de force of powerful emotions and a compelling story of struggle and ultimate triumph over the crushing disappointments that life can throw at the lonely and alienated youth of the world.

Since it’s the last week of the semester this is sadly my last post of the year. I’d like to thank everybody for reading my weekly series The Goldmine. It’s been very fun and exciting to contribute to the KCR blog. I’d like to thank blog leader Jewell Karinen for making everything happen. I hope to return next year to the KCR blog with a new series to work on. Hopefully I’ve spurred you the reader into listening to some of the albums I’ve written about. I’ve often found comfort in these albums, music opens up doors to places you never knew existed. I hope you’ve found something deep in the heart of The Goldmine of classic rock that I’ve unearthed for you.

Thank you for reading,
Cameron Satterlee

The Goldmine-Exile on Main St. by The Rolling Stones

It’s the end of the month so that means it’s time to profile another double album! The album in question may in fact be the best album that I will ever talk about on this blog, that is The Rolling Stones’ 1972 magnum opus Exile on Main St. The final record in the band’s incredible five year untouchable golden run that brought forth Beggar’s Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile; some of the finest rock music ever recorded. The Stones were the kings of rock and roll and at the peak of their creative powers.

Describing Exile on Main St. itself is rather difficult due to the sheer vastness of it all. Describing it piece by piece is also somewhat of a challenge because on first blush it is a cobbled together collection of muddily mixed rock-ish genre tracks. The strength of the album comes from the depth as well as breadth found in between the two vinyl discs. Sure, The Rolling Stones were a rock and roll band, they in fact bill themselves as the world’s greatest, but this album displays a vast reservoir of blues, soul, gospel, and country to go along with it. I think we should just jump in instead of me setting the stage any more.

Side A

The album begins in true Stones flair, with a drugged out and muddy sounding rocker about their hedonistic rock lifestyle. The song is appropriately titled Rocks Off, and sets an exhilarating tone for the rest of the record. The song’s mix is purposely haphazard, with instruments cutting in and out with little rhyme or reason, yet somehow it sounds better than the most professional records of the era. Session piano man Nicky Hopkins contributes his famous key licks to the track, and the backing brass keeps the song swinging as it frolics along.

A slow fade out and suddenly we find ourselves being swept up in Rip This Joint, one of the fastest songs the band ever recorded. A short little rocker moving at a breakneck pace, the song is about a tour across the country, and certainly could be seen to mirror the Stones’ own tours of the era, which were some of the most famous of all time for their decadence and general indecency.

The first of the cover songs on the album, track three is the Stones taking on Slim Harpo’s swinging blues classic Shake Your Hips. The Stones were perhaps the most decorated cover band of the time, devoting at least one album slot to an old blues or Motown standard which they gave a triumphant dressing up.

The fourth song on the first side is Casino Boogie, which takes blues images and shuffles them around a swinging boogie beat. The song has Keith Richard’s affection for the blues written all over it in his guitar lines and his backing vocals supporting Mick Jagger’s muddy drawl.

To close out the first quarter of the album we run into Tumbling Dice. Unlike the rest of The Rolling Stone’s albums, Exile has no real hits, as in a signature song that instantly conjures up the image of the rest of the album to other fans. Tumbling Dice is perhaps the closest thing to this as it is the most regularly performed song on the album in concert. The song features Jagger and a chorus of beautiful backing singers singing about gambling and infidelity. Sixth-Stone Ian Stewart contributes piano to the song. Drummer Charlie Watts was allegedly frustrated with his ability to play the beat coming out of the “keep on rolling” section of the song and was replaced in that part by producer Jimmy Miller, who also played drums on the Stone’s mega-hit You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

Side B

The second side begins with the song Sweet Virginia, a country-blues piece featuring the whole stones ensemble including Ian Stewart. Keith Richards and Mick Taylor duet on acoustic guitars and provide backing vocals for Mick Jagger along with a whole crew of other backing vocalists along with New Orleans blues legend Dr. John.

The second track on the second side is more country than country-blues but it has a notable soul influence in the vocalizations and the organ track. Al Perkins of The Flying Burrito Brothers contributed his signature steel pedal guitar to the song. Torn and Frayed is similar in lyrical content to other Stones country-influenced tracks as Dear Doctor and Far Away Eyes, telling the stories of washed up and haggard protagonists trying to survive their trying times.

While staying in the country-blues theme of this side of the album, Sweet Black Angel stands in stark contrast thematically to the other tracks on the album. Behind the absolutely beautiful acoustic arrangements is a sharp political statement from the Stones concerning the trail of civil rights activist Angela Davis, who was being charged with murder at the time the album was being recorded. The Stones were never a very political band, but this is one of their most overt statement against injustice as they saw it.

To close the first album is the lush and lusty Loving Cup. Nicky Hopkins takes over again on the keys and together with Charlie Watts and bassist Bill Wyman provides the Stones the perfect backing track to perform their subtle and sublime overlays. Similar to Tumbling Dice, Loving Cup has an aurally astounding vocal display from Mick Jagger and his backing vocalists.

Side C

The second album begins with the classic Keith Richards song Happy. It is considered to be the signature tune for the guitarist, and is frequently played in concert whenever Keith gets his two or so songs in the middle of the show. Mick Taylor performs the slide guitar and Mick Jagger is relegated to backing vocals for this one track. Both Ian Stewart and Nicky Hopkins play piano on the song, with session man Hopkins taking up the electric piano.

The next track is the short and rollicking Turd on the Run, and yes that is the song’s name. The song has a varied mix of acoustic and electric instrument and the production job makes it somewhat difficult to decipher what exactly is being said and played, but it’s a fun little tune.

A deep down and dirty slide guitar riff from Keith Richards starts off the lumbering Ventilator Blues. The song is the only song ever co-credited to guitarist Mick Taylor, although he only plays the guitar solo that closes out the song. It’s likely that he also wrote the guitar licks even though Keith plays them on the recorded version. Nicky Hopkin’s complex and articulate piano riffs roll up and down and contrast the slow back beat.

Ventilator Blues fades directly into I Just Want to See His Face. A gospel inspired song, the combination of the falsetto vocals and sparse instrumentation make the song sound as if it’s somewhere out of the 19th century swamps and fields of the American Deep South.

The last song on the third side is Let It Loose, one of the most spiritually moving songs that The Rolling Stones ever wrote. The song draws on soul, gospel, and blues and meshes them together in an incredibly powerful manner that draws out the very heart of any invested listener. Dr. John again contributes backing vocals and also performs the delicate piano track. Mick Jagger gives one of his finest vocal performances on the song, this is high praise for the singer of a band whose very logo is a mouth. The backing gospel choir adds onto Jagger’s solos with precise angelic swoons and hails. Taylor and Richard’s guitars, plugged into Leslie organ speakers, give the song another unique angle that makes it stand out not only on the album but throughout the Stones catalog.

Side D

The last side of the album would not be as tame as the previous two, beginning with a bang with All Down the Line. The song is one of the most straightforward rock tracks on the album. It features Mick Taylor’s slick electric slide guitar licks, a key to the band’s success during his tenure as guitarist opposite Keith Richards. Bill Wyman’s bass and Charlie Watt’s drums pull the song forward like a speedy roadster. Bobby Keys and Jim Price, who contributed sax, and trumpet and trombone throughout the album lend their lungs to this rolling record.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VziSYmfG5RA

The second cover song on Exile can be found in Stop Breaking Down, from the original blues master Robert Johnson himself. The song contains much more instrumentation than just Johnson and his solitary acoustic guitar, with Taylor once again performing his masterful slide. Mick Jagger plays harmonica in addition to singing. A full band effort, the song is a great example for how the Stones can retool an old blues song into a rock and roll format.

The album makes its last twist and turn in direction with the gospel inspired Shine a Light. The song was written for former Stones guitarist Brian Jones, whose tragic detachment from the band and eventual death is spiritually chronicled in harrowing style by Mick Jagger. Jones’ replacement Mick Taylor plays a fitting emotive guitar tribute to his predecessor. Billy Preston, who had performed with The Beatles in their Get Back and Abbey Road days contributed both piano and organ to the song.

To close out an album as vast and expansive as Exile on Main St. we finally come to Soul Survivor. The tune seems to sum up the album, drawing elements from many of the genres explored in the album, including soul, gospel, and of course rock and roll.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ug2_PIoheIU

With that we reach the end of the album Exile on Main St. It is truly one of rock music’s great master works and is an essential record in the history of genre as a whole. The album displays an astounding depth and breadth in all of the 18 tracks laid down by the band. If you want to experience what rock music was at its absolute height, this is a great place to start.

I’d like to thank all of my readers, running this weekly publication has been very fun and rewarding. I was honored on April 25th as KCR Radio’s best blogger and I hope to continue my work here. Thanks for reading.