The Rolling Stones

Tumbling Dice

Song Review by

When the Stones split England in early 1971 to escape the oppressive tax laws of her majesty, they took up residence in the south of France, an area that had many casinos, and much of that local color seeped into the songs that would eventually appear on Exile. One of the true gems of the album is "Tumbling Dice," a lazy, mid-tempo shuffle that was originally titled "Good Time Women" and appeared in rough form as early as the Sticky Fingers sessions of 1970. Under its new title, Mick Jagger applied gambling slang ("I'm all 6's, 7's and 9's") to the usual topics of fast women and a roguish lifestyle, but it's the music much more than the lyrics that make "Tumbling Dice" the rock & roll classic it undoubtedly is. From Keith Richards' slinky guitar intro to Charlie Watts' effortless drumming propelling that wonderfully loose beat, the song is the sound of the Stones working on all cylinders. In truth, it took hours and hours of outtakes before that loose shuffle feel central to the song's magic was captured to the band's liking, and the female voices that propel the beautifully arranged coda were recorded months later in L.A. by Clydie King and Vanetta Fields. But all of that is irrelevant when the listener's ears are bathed in those giant organ swells and gospel vocals offset by Mick's rough-edged call to "roll me" as the song slowly fades into oblivion. Surprisingly, though it was the first single released off the album, "Tumbling Dice" was not a chart-topping hit and among casual Stones fans the song has yet to take its place with "Honky Tonk Women," "Satisfaction," and "Jumping Jack Flash" as an absolute classic. The track was also a hit for Linda Ronstadt in the late '70s.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Exile on Main St. 1972 Virgin 3:47
No Image 1973
Various Artists
Warner Bros.
Made in the Shade 1975 Capitol / Hip-O 3:44
No Image 1984 Columbia / Rolling Stones Records 3:39
Jump Back: The Best of the Rolling Stones (1971-1993) 1993 Virgin 3:46
No Image 1995 Totonka
No Image 1996 Midnight Beat 4:48
Wild Horses 1996 EMI Music Distribution / Virgin 0:00
No Image 1997 Midnight Beat 4:55
No Image 1999 Cool Daddy 4:36
Forty Licks 2002 ABKCO Records 3:46
LP Sleeve Box Set 2005 Toshiba EMI
The Singles: 1971-2006 2011 Polydor 3:45
GRRR! 2012 ABKCO Records 3:46
Honk 2019 Interscope 3:46