14. The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main St.
A dirty whirl of basement blues and punk boogie, the Rolling Stones’ 1972 double LP was, according to Keith Richards, “maybe the best thing we did.” Indeed, inside its deliberately dense squall — Richards’ and Mick Taylor’s dogﬁght riffing, the lusty jump of the Bill Wyman–Charlie Watts rhythm engine, Mick Jagger’s caged-animal bark and burned-soul croon — is the Stones’ greatest album and Jagger and Richards’ deﬁnitive songwriting statement of outlaw pride and dedication to grit and cold-morning redemption.
In the existential shuffle of “Tumbling Dice,” the exhausted country beauty of “Torn and Frayed,” and the whiskey-soaked church of “Shine a Light,” you literally hear the Stones in exile: working at Richards’ villa in the South of France, on the run from media censure, British drug police (Jagger and Richards had been busted and arrested before), and the U.K.’s then-onerous tax code. The music rattles with corrosive abandon but also swings with a clear purpose — unconditional survival — in “Rocks Off” and “All Down the Line.” As Richards explained, “The Stones don’t have a home anymore — hence the exile — but they can still keep it together. Whatever people throw at us, we can still duck, improvise, overcome.” Great example: Richards recorded his jubilant romp “Happy” with only producer Jimmy Miller on drums and sax man Bobby Keys, while waiting for the other Stones to turn up for work. Exile on Main Street is the band at its ﬁghting best, armed with the blues, playing to win. - RollingStone.com