>Comic Update: Rockin Rick #1-6

>So a year ago I drew a silly one-off comic for my campus newspaper featuring a character called “Rockin’ Rick.” I liked Rockin’ Rick, so I used him in many many more comics despite all good logic. Eventually my good friend Stephen Winchell, a human being who can actually draw things that do not look horrible, decided to draw a few himself. Eventually Steve and I collaborated on a whole lot more Rockin’ Ricks, and kept the strip going twice a week for a semester.

Rockin’ Rick is special to me because it is the first comic I ever made that somebody liked. Still, a lot of other people (i.e. people that did not know and pity me) didn’t. Rockin’ Rick, in its early days, was a straight-up gag comic with one joke. If you didn’t like the joke the first time, you were not going to enjoy it repeated twenty-plus times. Daily Campus comics readers learned this the hard way.

Still, Mr. Winchell and I would like to keep Rockin’ Rick going in some way during our post-grad lives. So Steve, in all his loving generosity, decided to redraw the first six Rick strips I ever made. You will quickly notice that the art is very nice but the writing is very very wordy and clunky. That is just how I was a year and a half ago. That is how I still am. I am sorry.

Anyway, enjoy. Or hate. If you like them, maybe Steve will redraw more of them? (Note: he will anyway, no matter what you think)






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>Album Review: "Get Yer Boots On: The Best Of Slade"

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hard-rockin’s spacemen!! (with platform boots)

Before the dawn of this New Year I can honestly say I knew next to nothing about Slade. Nothing. I didn’t even know they were the guys that first did “Cum On Feel The Noize” – I just attributed that song to “Anonymous Seventies British Glam-Rock Band” for many many years. And in fact, I doubt too many Americans really hold Slade up to much regard now, save for 80’s metal enthusiasts and the dudes in Kiss. Why care much about Slade when you’ve got other trailblazing British 70’s rockers like David Bowie, T.Rex, Mott The Hoople or Roxy Music? Ehh?

Well, fun fact – during their early-70s peak, Slade outsold all of those bands in Britain. Their succession of Top 10 UK singles has only been beaten by the Beatles. They were the biggest British band of the 70s (at least in Britain itself), and as far as I can recall are still held in pretty high regard over there. And yet, in America, they are known mostly as the dudes who wrote that Quiet Riot song. They didn’t have a single hit in America during their peak years.

Why didn’t they? Shit, I don’t know. I heard somewhere that Americans thought they sounded “too British” but that makes little to no sense. Slade’s forte, at least during their peak glam years, was heart-stomping football-chant rock ‘n roll, which I don’t consider to be particularly British. There were PLENTY of bands like that in America scoring tons and tons of hits, so why not Slade? There are probably many reasons that I just do not know. It’s a shame, though, ’cause from what I am hearing on Get Yer Boots On Slade were a pretty kick-ass band. Their lead singer, Noddy Holder (I can’t get over that name for some reason) has this awesome throat-scratching scream of a voice that he uses to great effect, lending these songs a certain degree of rough-edged toughness. And hey, it’s anthemic hard rock! Who doesn’t love that?? (Nobody.)

Now I will admit, Get Yer Boots On is all the Slade I’ve got. Anybody who knows me (or reads this blog regularly) knows that I am not particularly fond of compilations. Get Yer Boots On is all I’ve got because it’s all I could find. Having said that, it is a well-crafted compilation, one that gives us a nice summation of the better parts of Slade’s career. I guess you could divide their development up into four phases: you’ve got their darker, Sabbath-esque early years (“Look Wot You Dun,” “Coz I Luv You”); their peak-era glammy glam bubblegum years (“Mamma Weer All Crazee Now,” “Cum On Feel the Noize,” “Gudbuy T’Jane”); their baroque-pop phase (“Everyday,” “Far Far Away,” “How Does It Feel”); and their straight-ahead 80s metal-pop phase (“Run Runaway,” “My Oh My”). At times the flow can feel a bit jarring – having the 80s-metal “Run Runaway” following the lushly orchestrated 70s number “How Does It Feel” is indeed weird – but overall there’s a nice flow to these tracks.

I would say their first two phases – the dark hard-rock and the goofy glam-rock – offer the most enjoyable Slade to be found here. I’m particularly fond of “Coz I Luv You,” one of their more sinister early hits with what has to be the most badass violin I have heard in a rock song (Andrew Bird, eat your dang heart out) and “Get Down And Get With It,” a simplistic MC5 rocker that, while generic, is still enjoyable. And the glam-rock, oh man. What a barrel of fun. “Take Me Back ‘ome,” “Mama Weer All Crazee Now,” “Cum on Feel The Noize” and my personal favorite Slade tune “Gudbuy T’Jane” are all perfectly-crafted handclap-worthy hard-rock numbers with indelible choruses. It is at this point in the compilation where I can easily credit Slade to being a precusor to AC/DC (“Mama,” in particular, bears a striking similarity to AC/DC’s “Rock ‘N Roll Damnation” – you can easily imagine Bon Scott shouting a bunch of these songs). The goofy fun holds up until the classic “Merry Xmas Everybody,” Slade’s one Christmas song that is one of the most enjoyable holiday songs I have yet heard. Apparently it is held in the same regard as “White Christmas” in Britain. Hmm.

Slade’s out-of-left-field baroque-pop phase in the mid-70s is probably my least favorite, at least from what I’m hearing on Get Yer Boots On. I mean, none of it’s bad – it’s certainly an interesting change of style, and they pull it off pretty well – but it just doesn’t sound like them. The ballad “Everyday,” the folky shuffle “Far Far Away,” and the epic “How Does It Feel” are all impressive songs, but it’s nothing amazing, and undoubtedly contributed to their loss of popularity after around ’75 or so. But then you’ve got their goofy 80’s comeback “Run Runaway,” a rockin’ 80s metal number featuring a vaguely Scottish melody – oddly enough, one of my favorite songs on here. It’s a whole lotta fun! And somehow, their only substantial hit in America. Interesting, that.

So what do I have to say about Slade? Nothing shocking. They were a cool band! And they wrote truly kickass songs that deserve classic status over here – hey, they wrote hard rockers a little better than David Bowie, if you ask this dude. If you love some simple, direct, guttural classic hard-rock, look no further. And don’t let the Britishness scare you! I don’t know why it would! I mean, damn, the Beatles were a pretty British band, weren’t they? Zeppelin? Deep Purple? The Who? Bowie?? No, no, it’s Slade that sound too British. Okay.

(P.S. – I cannot stand the name of this compilation, if only because it constantly reminds me of U2’s “Get On Your Boots.” And everything I think of that song, I have to stop typing and shudder. Really interrupts the flow of things.)

>Album Review: "Powerage" by AC/DC

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No really it’s a good album, please don’t let the cover spook you!!

When I hear a song like “Riff Raff,” a key Powerage track, I become convinced that the reason AC/DC are so beloved is not that they pull out a great riff for almost every song they’ve ever done – it’s that they pull out three or four. In “Riff Raff” alone, there’s probably around five, maybe six if you count the bassline: there’s the opening guitar salvo, the main riff, that little uppity figure before each verse, the outro riff… one after the other, they just keep blasting through you relentlessly until you’re left thinking, “JEE-sus, cut it out! The song’s already awesome enough, you beautiful Aussie motherfuckers.”

Yes, in case you couldn’t tell, I’ve been in quite the AC/DC mood recently. Maybe it’s fleeting, and maybe by the time I’m finished with this post I’ll be completely sick of them. Maybe I’ll finally submit and say something stupid like, “UGH they just keep writing the SAME STUPID hard rock song OVER AND OVER.” But I don’t think I would just lie to myself like that.

Powerage doesn’t have any hits on it, which is probably why it’s one of AC/DC’s lesser-known releases – not to mention it was released before Highway to Hell and Back in Black, two of their most definitive and beloved releases. Powerage is what you could call AC/DC’s “cult” album, held in lovingly high regard by Bon Scott-era AC/DC aficionados. Since this was the band’s last album produced by Vanda/Young, tossed to the wayside in favor of the more mainstream Mutt Lange for the next few albums, people consider this to be their last “rough” album, offering a grittier sound beyond the poppy sheen of their later releases – their last “pure” album, some might say. This is all arguable – AC/DC have always had the same basic sound, rough or not, for their entire career – but it’s hard to argue that Powerage was overlooked, and it shouldn’t have been.

Just look at the album’s tracklisting. You’ve probably never heard any of these songs before (I sure hadn’t), but man, they’re almost all great. And in ways you might not even expect from a so-called “simple” hard rock band like AC/DC: “Rock ‘n Roll Damnation” is a perfect Rolling Stones-esque boogie, “Sin City” is a creepy hard rock dirge, the aforementioned “Riff Raff” is a punk-worthy guitarfest, “Gone Shootin'” is a cool groove-rocker. Maybe the most unexpected piece of hard-rock bliss here is “Down Payment Blues,” maybe the best mid-tempo song AC/DC ever attempted: at six minutes, it features a seductive riff good enough to probably keep your attention for much longer than six minutes. And Bon Scott – AC/DC’s first and most entertaining lead singer – delivers some purely badass lyrics: “I know I ain’t doin’ much / doin’ nothin’ means a lot to me / livin’ on a shoestring / a fifty-cent millionaire / open to charity / rock ‘n roller welfare.” All sung in this kind of low, cool growl. And there’s some great basic AC/DC rockers on here too: “Gimme A Bullet” (featuring the immortal chorus “Gimme a Bullet to bite on / and I’ll make believe it’s you”), “What’s Next To the Moon?,” “Up To My Neck In You” and “Kicked In The Teeth” are greats all (even if the latter song there kinda steals the riff from “Let There Be Rock,” but it’s still pretty cool).

I don’t know. It’s the little things. The way Bon Scott suddenly does this “HAW HAW HAW!” thing in the middle of “Riff Raff.” The kinda-sorta handclaps littered throughout “Rock ‘n Roll Damnation.” That random bluesy riff that comes out of nowhere near the end of “Down Payment Blues.” The bass-only breakdown in “Sin City.” It’s all just so damn cool. Pure cool-rock. Apparently Powerage was Keith Richards’ favorite AC/DC record. I have no idea if that’s true – every review of the album I’ve read has cited him as a fan, but I haven’t seen any solid proof. People also say that Dick Clark has a copy of Third Reich ‘n Roll framed in his office, but who the fuck knows if that’s true? Who fact-checks these reviews?? Either way Powerage definitely has that Stonesy vibe, so if Richards was a fan I wouldn’t be surprised.

Listen. If you want to walk down the street and feel like a total badass, no matter who you are, just get some AC/DC on your iPod. Powerage ain’t a bad place to start. It’s a perfect blend of Bon Scott’s theatrically devilish sleaze and Angus and Malcolm Young’s mastery of the Pure Hard Rock Riff. How the fuck did they keep up with this riffage for so long?? God only knows.

Hey. I bet you thought I was gonna talk about Black Ice in this post? Ehh?? Hah, no. I only know one song from that record, “Rock ‘n Roll Train.” And admittedly, it’s pretty good, and Brian Johnston is in shockingly good voice for a 61 year old. The guitar sounds a little wimpier than I expected, but it’s solid nonetheless. But man, if you want some rippin’, organic early AC/DC, Powerage is choice. None of that Mutt Lange sheen. A rip-roarin’ misogynistic fantasy of a good time.

(Oh, and you should really check out this live performance of “Riff Raff” so you know what the hell I’m talking about here. I can’t embed it ‘cuz it’s disabled. Just watch for yourself. Don’t we all need this kind of music? All the time??)

>Album Review: "I Get Wet" by Andrew W.K.

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Don’t worry folks. It’s just pig’s blood.

If you want to have a big rock ‘n roll party hit in the 2000s – one that will be played ad nauseum by irony-loving college students at parties for years to come – logic would dictate that it would have to be big, loud, and ridiculously campy. At least that’s been the trend: the Darkness’ “I Believe in a Thing Called Love,” Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl,” the Electric Six’s “Danger! High Voltage” and the Killers’ entire discography* are big fat attention-getters all. In the age of r’n’b and rap’s dominance, rock ‘n roll seems to appeal more to mainstream tastes when it’s presented as novelty – a fun, goofy diversion reminding folks of a bygone era. (Of course, this is also the decade of Coldplay, so maybe I have no idea what I’m talking about.)

Andrew W.K., more than anybody in the world, is guilty of propagating this trend. Once the absolutely insane “Party Hard” hit America’s airwaves, the world was never quite the same. It was one of those rare songs that appealed to critics and jocks alike – critics heard it as an utterly bloated parody of macho party rock, and jocky dudes just viewed it as a badass party anthem. This, of course, raised the eternal question: was this “Andrew W.K” just a big joke, or did he take this whole party-hearty persona seriously?

The answer – surprise surprise! – is somewhere in between. W.K., clearly, understands that what he is doing is ridiculous, and yet his dedication to making his ridiculous music as infectious and funny as possible obviously shows that he views it as much more than an ironic joke. The way I see it, the guy wants to make party anthems that are as funny as they are sing-alongable, and I Get Wet is a success on these terms. Most critics will tell you that every song on this album is essentially the same – they’re all adrenaline-fueled, processed-guitar-filled, shouted anthems encouraging constant partying and beer guzzling. And for the most part, this is true, and it isn’t a bad thing because the formula is fun as a nugget – it’s the kind of album that begs to be blasted at parties. What makes the songs funny, though, is the way they’re presented; almost every song on the album kicks off with a goofy 80’s styled non-rock instrument intro (the cheesy horns in the title track, the Casio keyboard in “Ready to Die,” the epic synth strains in “Don’t Stop Living In The Red”) and dependably kicks into high gear with lightning-fast beats, giant guitars and W.K.’s constantly howled lyrics. It’s kind of hard to take this music 100 percent seriously when the intros are so self-consciously silly.

Maybe the funniest aspect of I Get Wet is Andrew W.K.’s personality – throughout the album, you get the impression that this guy just wants to get the fuck down and have a good time, and absolutely NOTHING is going to stop him. It doesn’t even matter if he isn’t singing about partying; while you might expect “Ready to Die” to be some dark metallic epic or “She Is Beautiful” to be a power ballad, both burst through with the same irrepressibly positive energy as the rest of the album. Hearing W.K. shout lyrics like “I never knew girls existed like you / but now that I do, I’d really like to get to know you” with full frat-boy sincerity is just very very funny.

I Get Wet is a very pop-oriented album, though. Beyond the frat-rock novelty, there are some really fun, catchy songs here that aren’t simply “Party Hard” rewrites – “Girls Own Love,” with its hilariously misogynist lyrics (“You’ve got to make her understand / That you are a man“), seems almost like a stab at power-pop, and the over-the-top “Got To Do It,” a synth-horn-laden tribute to overcoming all of life’s obstacles, might be one of my favorites on the album. He even attempts bizarre electro-pop on “Fun Night,” which makes a lot more sense when you hear it than it does on paper. Despite these fun little diversions, however, the overall feeling of the album is still epic party-rock, and what makes I Get Wet so damned special is its positivity. There is no angst, no depression, no darkness to be found here; it’s just one big party. “Party Hard”, despite its slight over-playedness, might be one of my favorite songs of this decade just because it is THE perfect party anthem – fast, incomprehesibly loud, and funny as hell. If I am drunk at a good party, I will not stop bitching until this song is played. Pure and simple.

This album came out in 2001, but Andrew W.K.’s dream of one big, long, stupid party is still something we need in 2008. I’m a little upset that his output petered out after 2003’s The Wolf (which I still haven’t heard) because this kind of formula is something I imagine would be a lot of fun to hear again every few years, not unlike AC/DC or the Ramones. In the age of Mars Volta and Muse, the concept of one big ol’ party sounds more and more appealing. Hell, it’s always appealing.

Bottom line: if you don’t like Andrew W.K. GROW A FUCKING PAIR YOU PANSY-MAN, THIS SHIT IS KILLER!!!

>Albums I Haven’t Heard In A Long While: "Doolittle" by the Pixies

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Heavy symbolism.

It’s still the only Pixies album I own. Why I don’t know! It’s creative as all get out and I loved it the moment I first heard it. That was three and a half years ago. WHATTT??

Let’s tally up the album count here. Because this isn’t right. I like to fancy myself a “hip” music reviewer, full of sweet good taste. I mean, I’m telling you what music to listen to, right?? So I’ve gotta be hip, or else you’d have no reason to listen to me! So keep this in mind: I have ONE Pixies album. The Pixies were one of the biggest influences on 90’s alt-rock ever. They are still considered one of the most important and influential rock bands of the past two decades or so.

And I have ONE of their albums. Here’s a few bands that I have more albums of than the Pixies:

– Blur (four)
– Hanson (four, no shit!!)
– Coldplay (three)
– David Cross (two, and I don’t even listen to those albums anymore!)
– Green Day (…um, three. Yeah, I know)
– Paul McCartney solo (two, more like TWO TOO MANY) (actually no I like those albums)
– New Radicals (Well ok, only one, but I’ve listened to it more than this Pixies album according to iTunes so yeah)

Jeezum crackers. You’ve heard it here, folks: Sean Rose prefers Coldplay and Hanson over the Pixies. TELL ALL YOUR LOCAL BLOGGER NEWS BLOGS.

So Doolittle. Kicks ass. Starts off with the nutzoid one-two-three punch of “Debaser,” “Tame,” and “Wave of Mutilation,” and doesn’t let up from there. The first and third aforementioned are more Pixies pop, but “Tame,” oh man. That song as the greatest vocals ever: Frank Black whispers creepily in the verses, and then SCREAMS AT THE TOP OF HIS GODDAMNED LUNGS in every verse, and man it’s so cool. That’s a Nirvana trick! Now you see where it comes from!! And that part where Frank Black stops after one of the verses and starts doing that rhythmic breathy singing that sounds like he’s stopping for air, with Kim Deal singing over it? And that part right after that where he launches right back into the “TAAAAAAAAME!” scream? THAT IS. Cool.

“Here Comes Your Man” is still my favorite song on here. Always has been, always will be. As creepy and shouty and scary as the Pixies could make themselves, they always had surprisingly strong pop instincts, and this song is probably the closest they ever got to a happy-dappy pop song. And I LOVE it! It’s got the funniest, loopiest little riff that dips in and out of the whole thing, and Frank Black and Kim Deal’s vocals are so strong and happy I just want to kill myself.

Otherwise, there’s still some great creeper-rock tracks on here. “Dead”? “I Bleed”? “Crackity Jones”? Kim Deal’s “Silver”? All jagged, minor-key, noisy creepouts that are also real catchy. Again, pop instincts about whether they like it or not – like the groovy bridge of “Dead”. But they’ve also got some cool, laid-back rockers like “Hey,” some goofy funny moments like “Mr. Grieves” and “La La Love You” (featuring cat-call whistling and “SHAKE YOUR BUTT!” incantations), and even some weirdly poignant numbers like the epic “Monkey Gone To Heaven,” perhaps the Pixies’ definitive piece of gospel. And then there’s “Gouge Away,” which might as well be a Nirvana song. I mean that in a good way.

Umm, well I’d like to discuss Kim Deal for a moment. For all you non-Pixiesologists, she was their bassist and other chief vocalist/songwriter, offering a lilting, melodic female vocal counterpoint to Frank Black’s screeching, demented wail. She was important, damnit! Her basslines are ALL OVER this album! A lot of the time, her basslines form the melodic BASS-IS (haha jokes) of most of the songs. And they’re all cool! And Frank Black barely put her songs on their later albums – this one only has “Silver” which I’ve honestly never really liked all that much, so I always kinda wrote her off. But I just heard Pod by the Breeders, her side-project recorded about a year after Doolittle, and damn is it cool. So props to Kim Deal.

God, what do I know? I don’t have Surfer Rosa. I’ve never listened to it before. I have no credibility on this matter. I don’t have an excuse – I’ve had Doolittle for three years and I haven’t bothered with anything else. I’m too deep in the hole now to save my credibility. So I’ll only direct this review to people who have never heard of the Pixies: this album is good, so buy it! They were the most ripped-off band of the 90’s! And don’t buy it just ’cause they had a song in Fight Club. Honestly, there are still people in this country who will refer to the Pixies as “that Fight Club band.” Can you believe that shit? These are the same people that listen to the Toadies and 311 unironically. You have no reason to trust them.

Now if you don’t mind I’m going to put on Coldplay’s classic record Parachutes. That “Yellow” number really shakes me up.

(P.S.: You can buy this ENTIRE album in Rock Band. DO IT DO IT! STOP BUYING SHITTY COHEED SONGS AND BUY “DOOLITTLE” YOU USELESS FUCKS!!)

>Album Review: "Exile on Main St." by the Rolling Stones

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Where’s the zipper?? AHA. (Hilarious Rolling Stones jokes.)

Aye, this blog is in serious danger of turning into an ass-kiss-fest. If you haven’t been keeping up, feel free to rifle through some of my most recent reviews – all positive! That Tom Petty album? LOVED it! Paul Westerberg’s? Man, man, did I slobber all over that one. Shit, I even got my panties all in a bunch over a HANSON album!! Can you believe that? The last time I actually grew a pair and ripped on something was the new Weezer album, like two months ago. And NOBODY liked that album! Fish in a fuckin’ barrel! I tell you, if I’m gonna veer this blog away from the stinking pit of stagnation, I’ve gotta start getting more bitter. And fast.

Having said that, here’s a blindingly positive review of a Rolling Stones album that everybody knows but I’ve only listened to like once.

Listen, I’m not even a huge Rolling Stones fan. Why else would I not bother to listen to Exile On Main Street for so many years, despite all its accolades? I mean, I’ve been actively listening to the Rolling Stones since my senior year of high school, and I still dig Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed after all this time. But truth me told, I was too busy being swept off my feet by the masterful pop of the Beatles and the gob-smacking power-rock of the Who (not to mention the beautiful whimsy of the Kinks) to really pay much attention to the Stones. Hell, in comparison they almost seemed like also-rans more than grade-A Sixties rockers; to me, they couldn’t do pop nearly as well as the Beatles and they couldn’t kick ass in a live setting anywhere near as powerfully as the Who. They just seemed like generic rockers that flailed any time they attempted diversity – as much as I enjoyed most of their blues, country and psychedelic workouts, they always seemed more kitschy than they should’ve been. So to me, the only original sound the Stones had lied in their raunchy blues-oriented bar-rock, which to me lost its luster after a while. Maybe because so many bands have co-opted the same sound for so many years.

So the Stones slowly but surely drifted off my radar. Once I got up to Sticky Fingers, a record I enjoyed but hardly fell in love with, I kinda-sorta stopped following them. Exile was an unfortunate casualty of my fickle nature – I mean, why listen to the Stones when I had all these Kinks albums I had to discover? And nobody’s touting them as the “World’s Greatest Rock ‘n Roll Band.”

But now I’ve listened to Exile all the way through and, man, this is everything the Rolling Stones should sound like. I think one of the Stones’ weirdest contradictions – one I never understood hearing Let It Bleed – was their glorification of hedonistic excess married with traditional American roots music, like gospel or blues. How can you put a sicko sex-anthem like “Stray Cat Blues” on the same album as a working-class hymn like “Salt of the Earth”? How can you put “Live With Me” on the same album as “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”? They seemed to almost cancel each other out. When you put on Exile, though, it all starts to make sense. If the Stones were searching for a soul in Banquet through Sticky Fingers, it sounds like they’ve found it in Exile – they’ve found salvation buried beneath the shallow rock ‘n roll lifestyle, the soulless exercise of shatting out rock hit after rock hit year after year. Corny-sounding, I know, but that’s what I hear when I hear Exile.

For all the lofty language I’m using here, I don’t want to obscure the fact that Exile is an excessively fun listen. Compare it to Sticky Fingers or Let It Bleed, where the nutty good-time rockers are tempered with creepy blues workouts or dark hard rockers – a “Bitch” for every “Brown Sugar,” if you will. But just hearing Exile‘s first side shows that we’re in for something different here: opener “Rocks Off” is perfect Stones sleaze, followed by the fastest, funniest, most indecipherably infections bar-band rocker this band could ever come up with, “Rip This Joint.” Then you’ve got blues-boogie (“Shake Your Hips” and “Casino Boogie”), and finally the absolute apex of the Stones’ soul workouts, “Tumbling Dice.” In the aforementioned track, you’ll hear soulful female backup vocals, killer riffing, incredible energy all the way through – it’s perfect gospel-rock, something the Stones had incorporated in various degrees in the past but never in such a pure, effortless fashion.

Oh, but things change a bit after the boundless enthusiasm of “Tumbling Dice.” Things wear down a bit. “Sweet Virginia,” eh? “Torn and Frayed.” Kinda sad songs. But the good times aren’t over! Sure, these songs are kinda sad and reflective, but still playful, catchy, and sweet – not unlike the Beatles Let It Be, it’s the sound of the Stones sitting around in your basement, getting drunk and playing some goodtime tunes in the wee hours of the night. Past “Torn and Frayed,” Exile continuously switches gears: sweet folk (“Sweet Black Angel”), wonderfully poppy rock ‘n roll (“Happy,” another gem sung by Mr. Keith Richards whose voice is STILL charmingly weak yet enthusiastic), neato blues-rockers (“Ventilator Blues,” Rob Johnson’s “Stop Breaking Down”), stupidly great zippo-rockers (“Turd On The Run,” “All Down The Line”), and even MORE fantastic gospel-rock (“Loving Cup,” “I Just Want To See His Face,” “Let It Loose,” “Shine A Light” – the list goes on and on). And it’s all ragged glory, beginning to end – none of it sounds kitschy or put-on. All genuine. There’s some serious growth here.

I don’t think I dislike a song on here. That’s a feat, considering this baby’s about 67 minutes long. I mean, “I Just Want To See His Face” doesn’t do THAT much for me, and I GUESS “Turd on the Run” and “Casino Boogie” are a bit inconsequential in the scope of the album. But no, no. THIS is the kind of album the Rolling Stones were destined to record. The band they were meant to be: a raunchy bar-rock band with soul. Yes, you are going to hear a lot about this record being dense, impenetrable, dark, murky, yadda yadda yadda. I’m here to tell you that it’s a rockin’, soulful good time that never lets up. I’m not sure what reviewers mean by this “impenetrable” business. Is it ‘cuz you can’t understand Mick’s lyrics half the time? Who cares? Do I need to understand exactly what Mick’s moaning about in “Sweet Virginia” for it to be a beautiful, woozy masterpiece? Of course not.

I’m pretty certain that, after hearing Exile, I can fit the Stones into my “routine” as it were. What major rock band was making music this loose and fun back in ’72? In the aftermath of the Sixties, and Altamont and all that? The Who were serious conceptual artists experimenting with synths. The Beatles were gone. The Kinks were jumping on the showtune bus. We needed someone to kick out the jams, and the Stones were there to do it. They filled a serious void.

So yeah, this is an album to pick up. It might not make sense to you if you aren’t familiar with the Stones already – when I hear Exile I feel like I’ve almost grown with them. I don’t know. Apparently they never recorded an album this great ever again. And how could they? Exile practically perfected their sound. How do you follow that up? Huh?? I don’t know.

Alright, that’s enough ass-kissing of a band that’s had their asses kissed their entire career. Did you know I had half of this review written already before Blogger decided to be an asshole and not save drafts? I had to re-write the whole damn thing! I probably forgot to say SO MUCH! I’m tired. Exile rules. I’m going to sleep. Please spellcheck this for me.