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DVD Review: Stones in Exile

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In conjunction with the release of the 2010 expanded edition of their classic album Exile on Main St., this hour-long documentary presents the chapter of the Rolling Stones' history when the album was created.

Bookended by reactions from modern musicians (Will.I.Am, Jack White, Sheryl Crow, and Caleb Followill) as well as associates they have worked with (Don Was and Martin Scorsese), this part of the Stones' story is told through archival footage and present-day interviews by band members, including Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor who were there at the time, and others involved in the album's creation like producer Jimmy Miller and engineer Andy Johns.

The first 20 minutes explains how the band found themselves in southern France. They left England due to the country's exorbitant tax rate. Keith Richards, along with his girlfriend Anita Pallenberg (who is also interviewed), rented a villa near Nice. Mick Jagger married Bianca Jagger. The remaining 40 minutes covers the recording of the album and other occurrences during that time.

Though all the information may not be new, Stones fans should be happy listening to the band reflecting back nearly 40 years on Exile's creation. There's footage of Charlie Watts and Mick Jagger revisiting Olympic Studios, which Mick amusingly points out he wasn't going to do when this film was being planned. It also great to hear audio between takes as they work things out.

To augment the visuals, clips are taken from two films shot during the Stones' American tour in support of Exile, the infamous Cocksucker Blues and Ladies and Gentleman… The Rolling Stones, the latter of which is getting restored for a release on Blu-ray later this year. Sometimes the video doesn't appear to match the story as it looks like as footage from Gimme Shelter of the band playing New York appears as they talk about their farewell tour of England before heading off into exile.

The DVD is augmented by a good amount of bonus features that are worth watching.

"Extended Interviews" (33 min) present Richards, Wyman, Taylor, Pallenberg, and Watts further elaborating. Current Stone Ronnie Wood offers his thoughts on meeting the band and the album.

"Return to Stargroves and Olympic Studios" (9 min) finds Jagger and Watts reminiscing about what took place at those locations in relation to Exile.

"Exile Fans" (40 mins) presents longer bits of the celebrity interviews that bookend the film and could have been a special all on its own. They are insightful as they discuss the effects the album had on each of them.

Stones on Exile does a very good job providing the history of the band and the album, but it's directed at people who are already fans. If you don't know the Exile on Main St. album, start there.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS