Half Exile On Mainstreet, The Rolling Stones

It may be sacrilege to say it, but I prefer Sticky Fingers over Mainstreet. In fact, I think if you whittle Mainstreet down to a single disc – as I will do here – it still won’t be as good as Sticky Fingers. Having said that, this is clearly prime Stones and there is definitely a case to be made that it’s perfect as a sprawling, messy double album of bluesy, sleazy Stonesy goodness and shouldn’t be altered at all. But as a thought experiment, if you had to try making it a single album, what would you include, and what would you leave off?

Okay, the ground rules are a generous 12 tracks to be allowed (the album had 18), so 6 songs per side. I’m gonna throw in a wild card for you by insisting that side four must remain intact. I do this because I believe it’s perfect as it is, one of my favourite album sides ever. So there.

Here’s my list:

  • Rocks Off
  • Tumblin’ Dice
  • Sweet Virginia
  • Torn and Frayed
  • Sweet Black Angel
  • Loving Cup
  • Happy
  • Let It Loose
  • All Down the Line
  • Stop Breaking Down
  • Shine A Light
  • Soul Survivor

This makes for a great playlist, but somehow the tracks lose their cohesion when ripped from the original double. I dunno. It should work, but somehow it doesn’t quite satisfy – certainly not as much as does Sticky Fingers. Just a bit too torn and frayed…But an interesting exercise, don’t you think? Try it!