The Rolling Stones

Exiles Afternoon

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While 1972's Exile on Main St. might be the last of the Rolling Stones' albums to be categorized as a classic by many rock critics, the band remained at a peak in performance for a year or so after its release. That's evident on this bootleg, the bulk of which is taken from a live show in Perth, Australia on February 24, 1973. The sound is excellent -- enough so that it could be issued officially without anyone blinking an eye, in the unlikely event a Rolling Stones archival CD series is inaugurated. The group is an excellent shape, and every one of the ten songs is a good one, including acknowledged classics like "Brown Sugar," "Bitch," "Gimme Shelter," "Honky Tonk Women," "Tumbling Dice," "Happy," and "Midnight Rambler," as well as the somewhat lesser known "Rocks Off," "All Down the Line," and "Little Queenie." Of course, there are versions of several of the aforementioned songs on the official live album Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out (recorded in late 1969), but these renditions do vary in arrangement, particularly in the addition of piano and horn parts (though those additions don't make them notably better or worse). Filling out the disc are some 1972 Exile on Main St. studio rehearsals that have been extensively bootlegged on other discs, enough so that many people buying this CD will already have this material elsewhere. Still, these tracks do bump the disc up to a generous 74-minute length, and are interesting for their documentation of the Stones in a loose jamming mood, even if these particular performances are too loose and fragmented to rival the music on Exile on Main St. itself in quality.