A Historical Recreation?

I went yesterday and bought a copy of the newly reissued Exile on Main Street. Even though I have a couple CDs of outtakes from the Exile sessions, I wanted to hear how those tracks cleaned up.

Those of you familiar with the Exile session bootlegs know that many of the tracks are either basic, rough tracks or just instrumentals. For the re-release Jagger added vocals to some tracks. He mentioned to Larry King (part one of the interview is here) that he had to write lyrics for a couple of the songs, but didn’t say which ones.

While most of the “new” songs sound like they fit perfectly with the original material, there are a couple where Mick’s voice sounds, as Charlie Watts told Rolling Stone, “like it was recorded yesterday.” The track “Plundered My Soul,” for example, sounds like it could just as easily have came from A Bigger Bang.

No one has been secretive about the Stones enhancing these tracks for the Exile re-release. Engineer Bob Clearmountain told Rolling Stone he electronically “tweaked” Jagger’s voice to make it sound more like it had four decades ago. Jagger even got Mick Taylor to participate in the effort.

I like that some of the leftovers from the Exile sessions are finally seeing commercial release. I’m just not sure if I like that they’ve basically been recreated. Like when I used to go see a historical building and find out the only thing original is a scrap of wallpaper encased behind glass and hanging on the wall of a “historically accurate” recreation. These 10 “new” tracks are at least as good as anything the Stones have released recently, but I do get the feeling I’m listening to a historic recreation, rather than to tracks that have just been cleaned up for release.

The song I have today comes in two versions, which should pretty much sum up what I just said: The first one, which is titled “I Ain’t Signifying,” is from a boot called I Gave You Diamonds, You Gave Me Disease. It is completely unadorned, starting as a bluesy shuffle, gradually picking up steam until the end, where Mick Taylor steps out front for a solo.

The musically (and grammatically!) cleaned up “I’m Not Signifying” retains the blues, but adds Nicky Hopkins’ piano as well as Mick on harmonica. Taylor takes a slide solo in this version, but it’s pushed back under a layer of horns.

I Ain’t Signifying.mp3
I’m Not Signifying.mp3

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