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Exile on Main St.: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones Hardcover – November 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

By 1971, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones and Janis Joplin were dead and Jim Morrison soon would be. Equally troubled, the Rolling Stones, those bad boy icons of the era, took their decadent circus to the French Riviera to escape British taxes and record an album. In a slang-filled present tense, Greenfield (Dark Star: An Oral Biography of Jerry Garcia) gives good gossip about the mayhem that ensued at the Villa Nellcote, the palatial mansion—and supposed former Gestapo headquarters—that Keith Richards rented as his getaway. Greenfield tells of who slept with whom, Keith's outlaw antics and the massive amounts of drugs consumed. The central story, however, is the struggle between Keith and Mick Jagger, who was increasingly drawn to high society, typified by his marriage to Bianca Perez-Mora. A who's who of celebs passed through Nellcote that summer, including John Lennon and Yoko Ono and Gram Parsons. In the last analysis, it's amazing that the Stones managed to record an album at all, but Exile on Main Street may well be their greatest. Greenberg's writing is cliched at times, but his account is energetic. In the end, he takes sides (Keith's mostly) and settles scores, but that only ups the entertainment value. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Greenfield focuses on the early post-Jones era, when Jagger and Richards were esteemed songwriters, and the band was starting to make money in piles. Picking up approximately where his S.T.P.: A Journey through America with the Rolling Stones (1974) left off, he recounts happenings at Richards' French villa, where the album Exile on Main Street was recorded in summer 1971. Jagger, having recently dumped Marianne Faithfull, was married to jet-setting Bianca, whose antipathy for Richards and cohorts was reciprocated. Richards was in the middle of a long liaison with dissolute actress, scenester, and Faithfull-friend Anita Pallenberg. The Stones had extricated themselves from manager Allen Klein and, thanks to Jagger's banker buddy Prince Rupert Lowenstein, were about to begin self-marketing. Complicating things were Richards', Pallenberg's, and assorted resident playmates' heroin addiction, which brought Corsican drug dealers, local scumbags, and sleazoid Richards factotum Spanish Tony Sanchez into the mix, so to speak. Greenfield merrily corrects Sanchez's and others' published misstatements and serves up such treats as Richards' description of Jagger as several of the nicest guys one could hope to meet. Rough, raw, and ironic by turns, he lays down the facts of how heroin enslaved and immobilized the band at a time when everything seemed within its grasp. So doing, this wry depiction of a dark, decadent moment in rock history inspires a certain demented nostalgia. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1st Da Capo Press Ed edition (November 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306814331
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306814334
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #767,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Terry on November 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is generally a fast read, and I picked up some information about the Stones I didn't know. However, it is seriously flawed for two reasons. First, the author has a ceaseless set of cliches that abound through this whole book. A couple well spaced phrases would have been clever. Consistently starting paragraphs with sentences referring to someone being like a "crossfire hurricane", among many more, really starts to grate on the reader. My major complaint, however, is one page after seriously criticizing two other authors' books (this includes a long winded paragraph on how one author was wrong, and should contact this author if he ever needed help with accuracy, and another book reference stating he liked the other author's salad dressing, but hated his book), the books states that "Jumpin' Jack Flash" was on the Sticky Fingers album, which it certainly was not. For me, the credibility, and likeability, of the author was ruined a third of the was through the book. High handed arrogance doesn't work so well when the critic is carelessly wrong himself. His writing style lost me before that, but after I invested that much time, I waded through to the end.
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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Mark Hayward on August 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I was excited to discover this, as like several others, I thought his previous Stones book was fantastic. But in the intervening years the author has become insufferably pompous, egotistical and cliché-ridden. He also appears to have fired his editor.

The author's habit of continually inserting song titles/lyrics and even bits of Shakespeare (without quotation marks,just to prove how effortless it all is) is as annoying as listening to some teenager say "like" every other word. For example: "Clowns to the left of him, jokers to the right, there he is, stuck in the middle with Keith", and as for the last line in the book, it deserves throwing against a wall. The constant uses of "Philip Michael Jagger" and also of the present tense are both increasingly irritating to the point of distraction. And the bit where he breaks off to slag off other Stones book authors is hilariously crass and at the same time pahetic.

Please allow me to quote a paragraph as a perfect illustration of the author's style; if you can get to the end of it without choking, this book is for you!

"Before any of this happens, Keith and Anita pull a Houdini. No pun intended, they take a powder. Like Bonnie & Clyde, they go on the lam. They skedaddle. They do the cow-cow boogie out the big front door of Nellcote...and then head as fast as they can for the airport in Nice where they board a plane and fly to safety. Like Elvis, Keith and Anita have now left the building. They have flown the coop."

Hey, Greenfield, you forgot "They are ex-residents, they have ceased to be..."
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth G. Schmidt on November 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Any time I crack open a book and find it to be double-spaced, I know I'm in trouble. You know what I mean: Not enough material for a "real" book. I've not been more disappointed in a book in a very long time. It's one sad, very predictable cliche after another coupled with horribly useless and overly long descriptions of characters that add nothing to what should have -- and could have -- been a very good story. The photos are just awful; they're outrageously dull and very poorly printed. Please, please don't buy this book expecting any real insight or anything even marginally interesting about life with The Stones while Exile was being recorded. How could something so potentially interesting be so pitifully dull? Sigh.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By C. Hogan on December 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Based on the fact that STP was a pretty good read 25 years ago, I had pretty high hopes when I ordered A Season In Hell.

Unfortunately, this is a very bad book.

The writer's main points seem to be to show off his arrogance and to debunk Spanish Tony Sanchez' accounts of the same events in his book.

Any credibility that Greenfield may have had due to the fact that he toured w The Stones in 72 is reduced to rubble with his repeated factual errors.

Would even the most casual Stones fan repeatedly make reference to Jumping Jack Flash being on Sticky Fingers?

The constant use of the "You make ask yourself, Dear Reader" literary device was annoying and childish.

This could have been a really cool work that would have shown how much the process of making an album has changed in 35 years.

Instead, it's going in my recycle bin.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By D. Neylon on May 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was at the library and stumbled on this book, Exile on Main Street, a Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones by Robert Greenfield, so I grabbed it.Really quick read, so I finished it, but it was pretty weak!

The book is about the summer in the France when the Stones recorded most of Exile on Main Street, in '71.

Basically, the gist of the story is that, over 35 years ago, the Stones hung out, did a lot of drugs, slept with alot of people, and often weren't very nice to each other, or to other people. Oh, and Keith was a heroin addict. And...there were a bunch of other people hanging around. Wow, what a ground breaking account. Oh, no, wait, everyone already knew all that.

The author professes himself some sort of expert, and spends a good chunk of this lighweight book tearing down other people who've written about the Stones, even going so far as to suggest one person "call his (Greenfield's) office" with any questions on the Stones.

Then, a page later, he says Jumpin Jack Flash is on Sticky Fingers.

Of course, it's not.

He seems to particularly have it in for "Spanish" Tony Sanchez, who years ago wrote a tell-all book on the Stones. It's funny how much time he devotes to tearing down Sanchez and trying to discredit much of what he wrote, when it seems Sanchez's book was the primary source of info for this book.

It seemed about 3 out of 4 accounts/stories in Greenfield's book begin with "According to Tony Sanchez..". Then the 4th story would begin the same way, but Greenfield would claim the story inaccurate and would provide pretty much the same one interview John Perry didwith Anita Pallenberg, for his book on Exile, to discredit it.
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