Exile on Adelaide Oval: Stone[s] the Crows

The piano accordion was his passion. For years he performed across the district. A livestock and grain farmer of German descent. So for Christmas his teenaged son, my mate Chris, bought him the New York City drugs and sex soaked Some Girls by The Rolling Stones.

Chris is not alone in offering such gifts. I’ve ordered SK Warne’s autobiography for our youngest, Max. The No-Shane’s-not-named-it-ironically, My Autobiography. It’s perfect for a four year old. Nevertheless, growing up in a dusty town, The Rolling Stones were the band.

Motorists had expectations of me, an adolescent working at a country servo. Smoke and steam, bonnet flung up. Returning from Cadell, the Riverland’s minimum security prison, haunted types’d ask me, “Do you think it’s the head gasket?” I was more familiar with Dollyworld in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee than lumpen V8s. And being a brash undergraduate, I once replied, between swigs of TAB, “Sorry, I can’t help you. I’m a historian.” I was nineteen.

Late every Sunday my cousin Boogly cruised down the hill past Nugget’s Clare Castle Hotel and Trotta’s Hardware to the Esso. Every Sunday I heard Boogly coming, ‘Slave’ from the Stones’ Tattoo You walloping from the speakers in his HQ Holden Kingswood. The music was ridiculous. The music was cool. We loved it.

 

Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it

Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it

Do it, do it, do it, do it

Don’t wanna be your slave

Don’t wanna be your slave

Don’t wanna be your slave

 

Genius.

Released in 1981, Tattoo You is their last good record. For their first twenty years The Rolling Stones were VVS Laxman, and for the next thirty they’ve been Jim Higgs, Test batting average: 5.55, but without the menace.

We’d be on the Hill at Adelaide Oval as Viv and Clive and then Viv’s son Richie Richardson went a-clubbing. In the drenching sunshine Nick’d emerge from the bar behind The Duck Pond banner. Juggling trays of West End draught, he’d then recite Mick’s opening to the Stones’ live record Get Your Ya-Ya’s Out, “We’re sorry for the delays. Everybody ready? Let’s really hear it for the next band, The Rolling Stones!”

Tramping into my 21st at the Kapunda Golf Club, Nick was Mick with a Union Jack flag right across his back. In the middle of a pub conversation someone’d channel Jagger, “Charlie’s good tonight.” Or,“ I think I’ve busted a button on my trousers. You don’t want my trousers to fall down, do you?”

Mum and Dad saw them in 1965 at Centennial Hall, but many preferred the support act, Roy Orbison and his operatic baritone. The Stones’ musical and biological mortality threatened, so when the 1995 concert at Footy Park was announced, I had to go. Nick prophesised, “Skeletor (Keith) probably won’t be back in Adelaide. Ever.” Who could disagree?

On an April Tuesday, I pointed my Nissan Exa at Whyalla, eluded the roos, boarded a Piper Navajo Chieftain, and sat on the forward flank as they ran through

Not Fade Away

Tumbling Dice

You Got Me Rocking

Live with Me

Sparks Will Fly

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Beast of Burden

Far Away Eyes

Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)

Rock and a Hard Place

I Go Wild

Miss You

Honky Tonk Women

Before They Make Me Run

Slipping Away

Sympathy for the Devil

Monkey Man

Street Fighting Man

Start Me Up

It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)

Brown Sugar

Jumpin’ Jack Flash.

My ultimate Stones set list? Anything from Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers. The matchless run of form in rock history. Broadly coinciding with Sturt’s SANFL flags in 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1974 and 1976. Finally, The Beatles, mighty as they’d been, released Let It Be; fatigued and plodding besides some scattered gems.

Ideally, they’d play Exile on Main St in its entirety. In his excellent book on the album Bill Janovich argues

Exile is exactly what rock & roll should sound like: a bunch of musicians playing a bunch of great songs in a room together, playing off of each other, musical communion, sounds bleeding into each other, snare drum rattling away even while not being hit, amps humming, bottles falling, feet shuffling, ghostly voices mumbling on and off-mike, whoops of excitement, shouts of encouragement, performances without a net, masks off, urgency. It is the kind of record that goes beyond the songs themselves to create a monolithic sense of atmosphere. It conveys a sense of time and place and spirit, yet it is timeless.

When I was nineteen I borrowed the cassette from the State Library, played it lackadaisically in my HQ Holden (everyone in Kapunda drove a HQ) to and from uni, and rejected it. It had country music on it. I was nineteen.

Today side 2, the country side, is my favourite side of any album. Beyond the second side of Abbey Road with its illustrious song medley, or the first side of Belle and Sebastian’s Tigermilk. Exile is muddy and nocturnal. Not only are they the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band. They are the greatest country band too.

The modernised Adelaide Oval hosts The Rolling Stones as Melbourne and St Kilda meet in Round 1 at Docklands. Sympathy for the Bedevilled, or Sympathy for the Devils, who torch a dwarf?

A Showdown then follows. I’ll be in Koh Samui, but will listen to Exile as a tribute. Tex and Paddy are surely Stones men. It would be boorish to say the Power are Beiber types, so I won’t. They’re not even piano accordion fans.

Enjoy the concert. And the footy.

 

About Mickey Randall

Favourite film: The Shawshank Redemption Favourite song: Khe Sahn Favourite holiday destination: Gold Coast Favourite food: steak Favourite beer: VB Best player seen: Dogga Worst player seen: Frogga Last score on beep test: 3.14159 Favourite minor character in Joyce’s Ulysses: Punch Costello

Comments

  1. Brilliant piece, Mickey.

    Never underestimate Out of Time.

  2. Great piece. Though the guy saying , “Is everybody ready…? Is everybody ready for the next band…? The Greatest rocknroll…” on Ya Yas (still the best live rock album ever caught and bottled) isn’t Mick. It’s their road manager and lighting guy Sam Chester or something. He wrote a run-of-the-mill book about them a few years back.
    There is a certain point, still, every time the wine is flowing and I have young ears to propagandise, when Bruce goes off and The Stones go on. And yeah, no one gets Exile immediately, but everyone takes it to the desert isle eventually.
    I’ll be in Adelaide to see them. I’ll be up the front yelling, “Paint it Black. Paint it Black, you devils.”

  3. PS Love the line about not being able to help because you’re a historian. And TAB.

  4. Mickey Randall says

    Thanks John. i appreciate your encouragement. The Stones version is great but I prefer Chris Farlowe’s.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpDjbul0WyE

    Thanks ajc-agreed that Exile is an oddity, especially for a double album in that, apart from Keith’s Happy, it didn’t have a hit single. It really only functions as an album, and demands to be played start to finish to truly work. It’s central to the musical education my boys will receive too!

  5. Neil Anderson says

    I saw the ‘original’ Stones the same year as your parents. 1965. It was easy to get a date if you produced tickets for the Stones with a bonus promise of Luna Park fun and games next door to the Palais in St Kilda where they were performing.
    It was all there. Mick’s stage moves, the maracas, and hair almost down to their collars. Much more scruffy and with more of a couldn’t care -less attitude than the Beatles we had seen the year before. To the innocent teenage audience, they were bad to the bone and we loved it.

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    Very entertaining read Mickey. Slightly disagree about Tattoo You being their last good record, bought 1997s Bridges to Babylon as an 18 year old, the first Stones album I ever bought and enjoyed it while I am a huge wrap for 2005s A Bigger Bang. Grew up with my Mum playing her vinyl copy of Sticky Fingers regularly, still the best Stones album.

  7. Mickey Randall says

    Neil- would love to have seen them then in a club as opposed to a stadium. You’re a lucky man!
    Luke- Sticky Fingers is great. Moonlight Mile one of their great, atmospheric tracks. The Townes Van Zandt version of Dead Flowers which plays during the end credits of The Big Lebowski is also excellent. A wonderfully wry choice. Thanks.

  8. Exile and Sticky Fingers benefit greatly from one M. Taylor.

    Sticky Fingers is also the better for Keith kicking around with Gram Parsons.

  9. Rick Kane says

    Very enjoyable Mr Randall. The Stones are something else, aren’t they? Death defying. Looking at the set list in your piece is like staring into the beauty and the beast that is rock’n’roll.

    I’ve never given a toss about The Beatles vs The Stones argument. They’re both of a mould that only a handful of rock’roll acts are made from.

    I will call you on one point. They’re not the greatest country band. However, they did learn from (one of) the best, Gram Parsons. And each of his bands, including The International Submarine Band is a better country band than the Stones.

    Other than that, you’ve now got me humming Ruby Tuesday and I’ll have that in my head for a while. That’s a good thing.

    Cheers

  10. …what Rick said.

  11. Mickey Randall says

    Litza- agreed. M.Taylor will accompany them on this tour. Could mean songs he originally played on get an airing.

    Rick- I’m with you on not needing to select the Stones or the Beatles. Maybe in the sixties you had to. The book on Exile I read suggests that for all of Gram’s influence, especially on Keith, he wasn’t credited officially for actually, apparently, playing on some of the tracks. Pity.

    Thanks for your comments.

  12. Earl O'Neill says

    Great piece, Mickey.
    I caught the Stones at the SCG in 1995. A mate saw them in ’65 and ’66. I was outside the Enmore Theatre the night they played to a select crowd of whoevers, there were 400 or more of us outside (the street being blocked off for the occasion) singing along and dancing and drinking.
    I’ve many more Stones stories but I’ll leave you with my latest compilation, arranged as a setlist:
    01 – Start Me Up 02 – Brown Sugar 03 – I Wanna Be Your Man 04 – It’s All Over Now 05 – Get Off Of My Cloud 06 – Let’s Spend The Night Together 07 – I Just Want To Make Love To You 08 – Down The Road Apiece 09 – Not Fade Away 10 – The Last Time 11 – 19th Nervous Breakdown 12 – Mother’s Little Helper 13 – 2000 Light Years From Home 14 – Gimme Shelter 15 – 100 Years Ago 16 – Paint It Black 17 – Sympathy For The Devil 18 – Under My Thumb 19 – Time Waits For No One 20 – Waiting On A Friend 21 – Tumbling Dice 22 – You Got the Silver 23 – Little Red Rooster 24 – Stray Cat Blues 25 – One Hit (to the body) 26 – Midnight Rambler 27 – Satisfaction 28 – Happy 29 – All Down The Line 30 – Honky Tonk Women 31 – Jumpin’ Jack Flash

  13. E.regnans says

    G’day Mickey,
    That’s a great tour you took us on.
    Talking versions – I’m a big fan of the Stones’ take on Little Red Rooster.
    Don’t know what they did there. But play it loud.

  14. With apologies to Brian Jones, the best incarnation of The Stones was with Mick Taylor. And he’s back for this tour. Moonlight Mile (the “Japanese song”) is beautiful. But the best on Sticky is Can’t You Hear Me Knockin. (Taylor solo very Santana-esque)
    And as to the best country band… were the The Band country? Damn, they were good.
    And if swamp rock is a sub-catalogue of country… then the title goes to Creedence.
    Born on the Bayou… man.
    Worth reading: there is a reply to Keith’s LIFE, written in the first person voice of Mick Jagger defending himself against all Keith’s accusations. It’s written by a journo called (strangely) Billy Wyman. Everyone assumes it’s Billy W who briefly (30 years) played bass for the Stones. It’s not. But it puts the elegantly wasted KR back in his box. Googleable.

  15. Great stuff, Mickey.
    I was fortunate enough to see the Stones at Wembley Stadium in 1990. Packed in on the floor; no idea how many were there that night, but Jagger and the boys put on an awesome show. I will never forget it.
    In any conversation about the greatest albums in popular music, “Exile on Main Street” should be one of the first albums discussed.
    Mick Taylor’s guitar work on “Time Waits For No-one” (off “Its Only Rock n Roll) is sublime.

  16. DBalassone says

    Great stuff Mickey, another great Stones countryish song that comes to mind is Far Away Eyes from The Some Girls album, but agreed their vintage period was 68 to 72.
    Rick, even worse than those Beatles/Stones arguements is when some wankers try and get you to choose between Lennon and McCartney – as if you can’t love them both.

  17. Mickey Randall says

    Earl- Great compilation; love the narrative span there. An underrated singer, Keith’s best work is on You Got The Silver. For pure menace Gimme Shelter is amazing, and Merry Clayton’s voice is astonishing.
    E.regnans- Who better than Mick to sing in first person as a rooster?
    ajc- Moonlight Mile is atmospheric and haunting. Agree that The Band and CCR go well. John Fogerty guests on a Wiggles DVD and sings terrifically, but his face is now a plastic parody of a face! Like Kenny Rogers.
    Thanks Smokie- Brian Jones is much mythologized, but for mine Mick’s work is brilliant.
    Thanks again.

  18. Mickey Randall says

    DBalassone- I used to think that Far Away Eyes was the Stones, shall we say, simply taking the piss. But I can now see that they’re motivated by affection for country music too, as parody can sometimes be. Thanks.

  19. DBalassone says

    Agreed it’s definitely taking the piss out of the bible belt US but the guitars sound so great and the chorus is so catchy…..
    Ps I got that Wiggles Christmas album with Fogerty as well! I reckon CCR deserve a place is rock’s pantheon as much as anyone!

  20. One of my favourite, more obscure, Stones songs is Angie from Goats Head Soup – probably because I came across it after breaking up with a girlfriend. The doco on Exile is brilliant.

  21. Mickey Randall says

    DBalassone and djlitsa- thanks men. Far Away Eyes works as parody, authentic country song and tear-jerker. Tremendous.

    Angie, djlitsa, showcases Mick as vulnerable and abandoned. How can this be? Agreed it is brilliant.

  22. Country boy with some reading behind him, but poor musical education (outside of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart et al), hits UQ. All manner of noises are emanating from Union College rooms as the clad, semi-clad and un-clad wander the corridors sucking on XXXX tinnies. It’s the year Start Me Up is released. Becomes an anthem. Imagine boat trips on the Brisbane River: 150 over-sexed students claiming their freedom by throwing empty tinnies (which were heavy enough to fly) onto the various bridges (no-one ever able to hit the Story Bridge) as the DJ reached for Start me Up. That’s livin’.

  23. Best country band of all time – Levon, Robbie and The Band. Daylight second. The pale whine of Wild Horses, Faraway Eyes etc is crap.
    The first half of Keith’s biography about London of the 50’s and 60’s and their alienated poor boy passion for the blues is great. Much like the Stones career.
    Both soon degenerate into boring drug addled pastiches. Keith is lucky he’s not dead. He certainly contributed to the death of a lot of others who didn’t share his constitution and luck. I remember reading the condescending description of John Phillips (Mamas and Papas) scratching his skin to death in Keith’s book, and thinking what a narcissistic prick Keith became on his never ending drug tour.
    The Stones have been total wankers individually and collectively for the last 30 years. Draw a line on the great music after Tattoo You.
    No thanks. I listen to the early vinyl, rather than donate.

  24. Peter B,
    You may be able to bully this cabal of sweet nostalgics with that declamatory tone, but I intend to vilify you from a high platform, boy. Perth is not too far away for you to get a whipping for what you said about those horses. And, yeah, of course Keith is a prick. So was Picasso (Though no one ever called him an asshole, according to J Richman). John Farnham, on the other hand, is a cherubim in a silly coat. Being a self-centred arsewipe might be what’s required to compose the best riffs rock has known.
    But anyway, you used to barrack for St Kilda? Now Eagles? Presumably we only have to hang on a month or so and you’ll be off The Band and back on The Stones.
    Sorry. I’m just here because I’m trying not to write something else.

  25. Mickey Randall says

    JTH- As a prefect as Kapunda High in 1981 we wanted Start Me Up as the theme of our school disco or “social” as it was locally known, but the organising teacher was worried that the song had obviously suggestive lyrics. He didn’t like it. We got our way.

    Peter-Agree with you. Instead I probably should have argued that the Stones have some great country songs on Exile. Keith, like so many musicians, writers, artists (Miles Davis, F Scott Fitzgerald etc) is not necessarily a guy you want in your inner circle. But we can love his art.

  26. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Mickey

    Enjoyed the bit about borrowing the cassette from the State Library, often the only way to get hold of some music that you couldn’t afford and/or wasn’t played on the radio.

    ajc
    And I thought I was the only one who made obscure Jojo references (he had Route 128, Mickey had Main North Road)

  27. Mickey Randall says

    Swish- We’d have a parcel of books and cassettes sent to Kapunda on the train every fortnight, even though Kapunda is only an hour from Adelaide. I remember waiting in the railway station carpark, excited about what would be in the brown paper package.

    The library cassettes were a necessary supplement to the mix tapes I’d make from 5AD and 5KA!

  28. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Mickey – I can still remember the night I heard Anglo Girl Desire by Radio Birdman on 5AD one night, it must have been a once-off, but after that, I had to rely on Student Radio on 5UV to hear anything new and different on the airwaves.

  29. Mickey Randall says

    Swish- very infrequently commercial radio can surprise. Years ago when I lived on the West Coast I remember driving through Port Augusta and hearing the Meat Puppets on 5AU. Not that I’m a fan, but it was faintly encouraging.

    In Singapore John Farnham would be viewed as dangerously bohemian, so imagine my happy amazement this morning as I heard PJ Harvey on local radio! It was We Float from her excellent Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea.

  30. Mickey – how do you manage to filter out the sparking repartee of the local Media Corp Artiste’s? I can barely get beyond a few words and it’s switched off.

  31. Mickey Randall says

    djlitsa- I don’t! As it now has a playlist a bit like Triple J and other Australian alternate radio stations, I sometimes listen to Lush- 99.5. It seems to mostly run without announcers and ads. Agree that some Singaporean radio makes Triple M appear sophisticated and enlightened, but without the Barnesy.

  32. Good Lord Mickey, that is so the world of Oakey circa late 70s.

  33. Mickey – footy seasons fast apraoching – are you up for a round one meet up somewhere (Boomarang)?

  34. Excellent article though the (non-derogatory) reference to West End beer does little to enhance any credibility of all that follows.
    I’m off to Hanging Rock and hoping for Midnight Rambler!

  35. Swish, Mickey et al,
    If you are into reminiscing about growing up in SA in the 60’s and 70’s – I have just finished reading Peter Goldsworthy’s memoir of growing up in Minlaton, Penola, Kadina, Darwin and then the early years of Adelaide Uni. It is brilliantly cringe worthy. He gets inside the mind of the child and adolescent wonderfully.
    Lots of references to the brown papered lucky dip from the State Lending Library. I remember it well. I read the Monarch Notes for a quarter of the books that Goldsworthy read. I guess that’s why he’s a novelist, while I tell yarns.
    The book is called “His Stupid Boyhood” – so we can all identify with it. Its a great read. Sort of an introspective Clive James without the self aggrandisement.

  36. Mickey Randall says

    Budge-Like most I was a prisoner of time and space so the only beer was West End. Happily, I was traded to Coopers early in my career!
    Peter- I’ve enjoyed some of Goldsworthy’s works such as Wish and Honk If You Are Jesus. I reckon I’d enjoy his memoir. Beyond Colin Thiele I’m not aware of country SA being explored in print. Thanks for the suggestion.
    JTH- Great photo! Being black and white adds to the sense of excitement and place!

  37. Patrick OBrien says

    All footage of the Stones’ short three days at Muscle Shoals is worth its weight in gold. Easily yootoobed as well. Huzzah!

  38. Mickey Randall says

    Patrick- correct! It is close to impossible to view old footage, and not see it as innocent and enticing. Even featuring the Stones! Looking forward to your next offering.

  39. Don’t apologise to Peter ajc,pete is just your typical chardonnay swilling,bullying eagles supporter,who i have mentioned before would boo the anzac day parade. Go Dockers

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