Monday, February 26, 2007

More From The 33 1/3: Exile On Main St.

Jagger never liked printing lyrics. This is a lesson taken to heart by R.E.M. on their early records: write some enigmatic phrases that sound good musically, mix them low, and let the listeners bring their own perceptions to the table. It's a nice formula that produces great results in the right hands.

The tone of the record is set within the opening seconds of the first song on side one, disc one, "Rocks Off." It begins with one of Keith Richards' trademark open G-tuned riffs. But precisely one second into it, we hear a stray bit of percussion. It sounds like someone hit a cowbell too early. Someone jumped the gun. It also sounds like a vocal microphone was left open during the mix, with some shuffling sounds before the band kicks in. This is the sort of extraneous noise that has traditionally been masked out during the mixing process, even back before computer programs like Pro Tools made automated mixing "moves" a cinch. Jagger (or whoever it is) seems all right with it, as after the first snare drum hit, we hear him growl comically "oh, yeeeeeeahhhh."

On "Happy," the Human Riff unleashes one of his absolute classics. Keith opens with that sort of tension-filled guitar figure that bops and weaves all around the beat, making the listener wonder how he is finally ever going to make it into the beat itself. He has a way of swinging guitar riffs so severely that they sound like false starts, paying as much mind to the upbeat as the down, small aural tricks that dip and rise dynamically. Taking his sweet time to introduce the song, his open-G-tuned guitar ringing that identifiable four-note lick on one side, doubled by a slide part off on the other, the song is all Keith..."


Blogger Grant Miller said...

Great fucking album.

4:41 PM, February 27, 2007  
Blogger haahnster said...

Yes. Yes it is.

6:24 PM, February 27, 2007  
Blogger Keith Kennedy said...

More Stones, less everything else.

9:34 AM, February 28, 2007  
Blogger Dale said...

It used to make me crazy, the lyrics thing, but now I can appreciate it and still not know half of what the words probably are.

Nice breakdown.

11:03 AM, February 28, 2007  
Blogger Beth said...

Stipe never liked running the lyrics because he saw them as just another instrument, like the bass or drums. And he was pretty fluid with the lyrics, changing them as he sang them. Friends and I still get in heated arguments about what this line or that line is.

I love "Happy"! Such a snarky tune, and sung by my beloved Keef.

11:05 AM, February 28, 2007  

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