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. 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 purple, like a bruise that’s fun to touch. Through out, Jagger manages to sound intently focused and deeply stoned, while Charlie Watts minds the store with impeccable rhythm.
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