Saturday, April 28, 2012

Exile summer

By the spring of 1971 the Rolling Stones owed more in taxes than they could pay and the band left the UK before the government could seize their assets. Mick Jagger settled in Paris, and Keith Richards rented a villa, Nellcôte, in Villefranche-sur-Mer, near Nice. The other members of the band also setttled in the south of France. Eventually Keith's basement at Nellcôte became a makeshift studio to record, using the band's mobile recording truck.

In his autobiography, Life, Keith Richards recalls what happened: "We looked at studios in Cannes and elsewhere, reckoned up how much money the French were going to suck out of us. Nellcôte had a large basement and we had our own mobile studio. The Mighty Mobile, as we called it, was a truck with eight-track recording machines that Stu had helped to put together. We'd thought of it quite separately from any plan to move to France.

It was the only mobile recording unit around. We didn't realize when we put it together how rare it was - soon we were renting it out to the BBC and ITV because they had only one apiece. It was another one of those beautiful, graceful, fortuitous things that happened to the Stones. So one day in June it trundled through the gates and we parked it outside the front door and plugged in. I've never done any different since. When you've got the equipment and the right guys, you don't need anything else in terms of studios".

And so Nellcôte and the Mighty Mobile became the center of the Stones' 1971 Exile recordings. A lot has been written (and filmed) about this long hot summer in the south of France, but very little is known about Stu's whereabouts. For sure he, as managing director of the mobile unit, must have been around, but where did he live? And did he take part in any recording sessions, or was Nicky Hopkins the only piano player the band relied on at the time? Someone?

Adapted from the following source: Keith Richards, Life, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2010.

Suggested further reading and viewing:
Bill Janovitz, The Rolling Stones' Exile On Main St., Continuum, 2007.
Dominique Tarlé, Exile, Genesis Publications, 2001.
Stones In Exile, Eagle Rock Entertainment Ltd., 2010 (DVD).

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Fact sheet: Sticky Fingers

April 1971 the Rolling Stones finally released their new studio album "Sticky Fingers" on their new record label Rolling Stones Records. Author Graeme Thomson puts the record in some fine perspective: "Sticky Fingers is the bridge that carried the Stones out of the '60s and into the '70s, pieced together over two years in the gaps between two major, somewhat mythical tours; various legal shenanigans; the integration of Mick Taylor as a fully fledged Stone; and their departure from Decca to form their own record label.

A three-day stopover at Muscle Shoals, Alabama in December 1969 delivered 'Wild Horses', 'You Gotta Move' and 'Brown Sugar'. The rest - the sickly 'Sister Morphine' aside - was recorded throughout 1970 at Stargroves, Mick Jagger's country pile, and tidied up at Olympic Sound Studios in London. It was, according to Jagger, a 'heavy time', and you can hear it in the music. Unlike most other Stones albums, however magnificent, "Sticky Fingers" is an emotional as well as a visceral ride".

Ian Stewart played piano on two tracks, 'Brown Sugar' and 'Dead Flowers'. Other members of the keyboard department on this record were Nicky Hopkins, Jim Dickinson, Billy Preston, Jack Nitzsche, Jim Price, and even Bill Wyman (electric piano on 'You Gotta Move'). A busy affair, with Stu being a constant factor, and Billy Preston the coming man.

Adapted from the following source: Graeme Thomson, Sticky Fingers, The Ultimate Music Guide (from the makers of Uncut).