The best add to Exile on Main Street's re-release is Plundered My Soul. Previously bought on Record Store Day and played in this space, the song has gotten love from Casey and other friends. When's the last time we all talked about a new (sort of new) Stones song? It's cool.
But something I've loved alongside the discussion is how the song's history has slowly gathered exposure on the Web. Glorious Noise picked up on re-recording mentions in March, and Stones message boards rumbled with rumors. When Plundered hit a few weeks ago, GloNo surfaced the board reactions: The whole vocal was new! The site claimed the vocals came in 2009, but sourcing wasn't strong.
In recent days, though, we're receiving Mick confirmation. USAT:
Varying amounts of guitar, vocals and percussion sealed other cracks, with results seamless enough to fool Jagger's friends.
The additions "are in the style of Exile and quite believable," he says. "Not that I was trying to fib about it, but when I played it for people and they said, 'Oh, you found it like that?,' I said, 'Uh, yeah, yeah.' It was a bit strange finishing songs 40 years later."
Bare-boned piano ballad River required lyrics and vocals. Both Jagger and former guitarist Mick Taylor made fresh contributions to the caustic midtempo Plundered.
"We were not on the original," Jagger says. "Obviously, we were off in a bar somewhere when it was recorded. I asked (Taylor) to come back and do overdubs. It really makes the track complete."
Charlie Watts talks to Rolling Stone this week about the changes, "My only criticism of the new ones is that the voice sounds like it was done yesterday." In the Chicago Tribune, Greg Kot calls the added sound "a misguided attempt to update an album that needs no updating."
But Kot interviews Jagger a bit, and the text is fascinating. "I started from scratch on vocals," Jagger says. "There was nothing in terms of melody or lyrics." No lyrics! Later, Jagger notes Plundered's preserved music was the opposite — "very together, no mistakes, no messing about, very arranged, very thought out, obviously very together."
I'm glad to hear about the lyrics because I'd been wondering.
After you hear the vocals are new, it's obvious. The tone is richer at mid-tempo, more consistent with modern Jagger — he's a gentleman now — than his ragged Exile-era singing. But the lyrics have had me thinking in the shower. It's easy to start singing Plundered My Soul in the shower and find myself in Forty Licks '02 cut Stealing My Heart. "I thought you were dinner / but you were the shark" fits well the story of "I thought you wanted my money, but you plundered my soul…"
But I like it. While I wish the Stones would dump all the Exile tapes on the Web and let their hardcore fans build wild mixes for the rest of us, at least we have one good song here. Aging Mick may be baroque to young Mick's broke, but these days, if half a songwriting process can give results this good, there's life in the band yet. Plunder the vaults.