The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
Side Three: Mint Minus Minus (often quieter than this grade)
Side Four: Mint Minus Minus (often quieter than this grade)*
- With roughly Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on all FOUR sides, this copy is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner - remarkably quiet vinyl too
- This is Exile raw and real the way it should be - with full-bodied, immediate vocals and plenty of hard-rockin’ energy
- The better copies are also much less gritty and hard, but manage to keep the raw, grungy, heavily tube-compressed sound the Stones and their exceptionally talented engineer, Glyn Johns, were going for
- 5 stars: "Few other albums, let alone double albums, have been so rich and masterful as Exile on Main St., and it stands not only as one of the Stones' best records, but sets a remarkably high standard for all of hard rock."
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*NOTE: On side 4, there is a stitch that plays 5 times at a moderate level at the start of track 2, "Stop Breaking Down." There is also a mark that plays 5 times lighly during the outro of the last track, "Soul Survivor."
These Nearly White Hot Stamper pressings have top-quality sound that's often surprisingly close to our White Hots, but they sell at substantial discounts to our Shootout Winners, making them a relative bargain in the world of Hot Stampers ("relative" meaning relative considering the prices we charge). We feel you get what you pay for here at Better Records, and if ever you don't agree, please feel free to return the record for a full refund, no questions asked.
Exile on Main Street is a founding member of our prestigious None Rocks Harder Club. The sound may be too grungy for some, making Exile fairly difficult to reproduce, but the best sounding pressings, played at good, loud levels on big dynamic speakers, in a large, heavily-treated room, are a blast.
All four sides here have the kind of bass, energy, and presence that is essential for this music to rock the way it's supposed to. A copy like this conveys the emotional power of The Stones' performances in a way that most pressings simply fail to do.
This shootout is always a struggle; an uphill battle all the way. You'd have to find, clean and play a ton of copies to come up with four sides that can do this music justice. We're sure that Stones fans and Hot Stamper die-hards are going to be very pleased with this copy.
These vintage Artisan-mastered pressings (the only ones that have any hope of sounding good) have the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn't showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to "see" the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, these are the records for you. It's what vintage all analog recordings are known for -- this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it -- not often, and certainly not always -- but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What The Best Sides Of Exile On Main Street Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1972
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing these records are the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find pressings that sound as good as these two do.
It was only about twenty years ago that I discovered what an amazing engineer and producer Glyn Johns is. A Hot Stamper of the first Eagles album produced by none other blew my mind, so I quickly started looking around for other records he might have had a hand in. How about Who's Next? Let It Bleed? On The Border (my personal favorite Eagles album)? Led Zeppelin's debut? And of course, Sticky Fingers, a record that I've always known had great sound -- you can hear it buried under all that bad vinyl and groove wear. Until the newest record cleaning fluids and machines were invented you could hear it; you just couldn't enjoy it. Now, of course, you can.
Of course, Hot Stampers can only give you what's on the tape. In this case, it's some rude, crude, dirty rock & roll. That's clearly what the Stones were going for here. In terms of audiophile appeal, Tea For The Tillerman it ain't.
Exile On Main Street may have some of The Rolling Stones best music on it, but those looking for the best sounding Stones album should look in the direction of Sticky Fingers or Let It Bleed. They're better recordings.
But this album is no slouch. It can be a bit gritty and grainy at times, but you gotta believe that's exactly the kind of sound the Stones heard in the control room and were totally cool with.
Exile and The Eagles debut were recorded a year apart by Glyn Johns, and if would be hard to find two records that sounded more different.
The Stones wanted this sound, not that one.
What We're Listening For On Exile On Main Street
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren't "back there" somewhere, lost in the mix. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
A Must Own Rock Record
We consider this album one of the band's best, along with the three that preceded it. If you’re a Classic Rock fan, this Must Own Classic from 1972 surely belongs in your collection.
Others that belong in that category can be found here.
A Tough Record to Play
Exile On Main Street is one of several Stones albums that is a Difficult Record to Reproduce. Do not attempt to play it using anything other than the highest quality equipment.
Unless your system is firing on all cylinders, even our hottest Hot Stamper copies -- the Super Hot and White Hot pressings with the biggest, most dynamic, clearest, and least distorted sound -- can have problems. Your system should be thoroughly warmed up, your electricity should be clean and cooking, you've got to be using the right room treatments, and we also highly recommend using a demagnetizer such as the Walker Talisman on the record, your cables (power, interconnect and speaker) as well as the individual drivers of your speakers.
This is a record that's going to demand a lot from the listener, and we want to make sure that you feel you're up to the challenge. If you don't mind putting in a little hard work, here's a record that will reward your time and effort many times over, and probably teach you a thing or two about tweaking your gear in the process (especially your VTA adjustment, just to pick an obvious area many audiophiles neglect).
The harder you work to get distortion out of your system and room, the more enjoyable you will find this album, which is exactly the reason you want to do all that work in the first place, in order to get the most out of difficult-to-reproduce albums like Exile.
- Rocks Off
- Rip This Joint
- Shake Your Hips
- Casino Boogie
- Tumbling Dice
- Sweet Virginia
- Torn and Frayed
- Sweet Black Angel
- Loving Cup
- Turd on the Run
- Ventilator Blues
- I Just Want to See His Face
- Let It Loose
- All Down the Line
- Stop Breaking Down
- Shine a Light
- Soul Survivor
AMG 5 Star Rave Review
Greeted with decidedly mixed reviews upon its original release, Exile on Main St. has become generally regarded as the Rolling Stones' finest album. It's the kind of record that's gripping on the very first listen, but each subsequent listen reveals something new. Few other albums, let alone double albums, have been so rich and masterful as Exile on Main St., and it stands not only as one of the Stones' best records, but sets a remarkably high standard for all of hard rock.