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Category Archives: 1970s

By 1967, bossa nova had become quite popular within jazz and traditional pop audiences, yet Frank Sinatra hadn’t attempted any Brazil-influenced material. Sinatra decided to record a full-fledged bossa nova album with the genre’s leading composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim. Arranged by Claus Ogerman and featuring Jobim on guitar and backing vocals, Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim concentrated on Jobim’s originals, adding three American classics — “Baubles, Bangles and Beads,” “Change Partners,” and “I Concentrate on You” — that were rearranged to suit bossa nova conventions. The result was a subdued, quiet album that used the Latin rhythms as a foundation, not as a focal point. Supported by a relaxed, sympathetic arrangement of muted brass, simmering percussion, soft strings, and Jobim’s lilting guitar, Sinatra turns in an especially noteworthy performance; he has never sounded so subtle, underplaying every line he delivers and showcasing vocal techniques that he never had displayed before. Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim doesn’t reveal its pleasures immediately; the album is too textured and understated to be fully appreciated within one listen. After a few plays, the album begins to slowly work its way underneath a listener’s skin, and it emerges as one of his most rewarding albums of the ’60s.

Watertown is Frank Sinatra’s most ambitious concept album, as well as his most difficult record. Not only does it tell a full-fledged story, it is his most explicit attempt at rock-oriented pop. Since the main composer of Watertown is Bob Gaudio, the author of the Four Seasons’ hits “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” “Walk Like a Man,” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” that doesn’t come as a surprise. With Jake Holmes, Gaudio created a song cycle concerning a middle-aged, small-town man whose wife had left him with the kids. Constructed as a series of brief lyrical snapshots that read like letters or soliloquies, the culminating effect of the songs is an atmosphere of loneliness, but it is a loneliness without much hope or romance — it is the sound of a broken man. Producer Charles Calello arranged musical backdrops that conveyed the despair of the lyrics. Weaving together prominent electric guitars, keyboards, drum kits, and light strings, Calello uses pop/rock instrumentations and production techniques, but that doesn’t prevent Sinatra from warming to the material. In fact, he turns in a wonderful performance, drawing out every emotion from the lyrics, giving the album’s character depth.

-Stephen Thomas Erlewine, allmusic.com

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FRANCIS ALBERT SINATRA & ANTONIO CARLOS JOBIM (1967)
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WATERTOWN (1970)
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As can be gleaned from the cover of her one and only record, Linda Perhacs was a stunning, beautiful love child. Anyone who spent the $200-400 necessary to obtain copies of the original vinyl could attest that the music she made was comparably stunning and beautiful, infused with all the trappings of being a late-sixties love child (in the best possible way).

Ace of Discs reissued her album after unsuccessful attempts to track her down, mastering from a poorly pressed vinyl copy. For whatever reason, the first issue on CD was completely unlistenable on headphones, although delightful in the open air. Since that first go-round, Perhacs has come out of her obscure Pacific Northwest woods with quarter-inch reels of the sessions, and now that Ace of Discs comes round again with a vindicating, expanded reissue, the tray card photo reveals: she’s still a babe.

Anyway you eye it, this is a magical, sublimely singular piece of gentle folk-psych that belongs with those lone album classics by folks like Skip Spence or Vashti Bunyan (or the countless other souls that only released one record before disappearing into history’s communal farms or funny-farm madness, like Elyse). It is a sound so personal and intimate that I can only hear it in the privacy of my own room. Although it’s been near-impossible to gain biographical information about her, the experience of hearing her music reveals so much about her soul and mindset at the time that I really don’t think I could share it with anyone else.

As mentioned above, she’s a love child in every sense, a young woman blossoming into her sensual world. Of the elements, every song culls its images from her forest environment, permeating down into her own physical core. “Chimacum Rain” is not only the forest’s silence and that sound of rain washing over her, but the palpable sexual presence of her lover, too. In almost every evocation of a tactile natural image, there is a mysterious man who physically embodies these characteristics, a tension courses through her body as she sings about these near-deities. And as she reaches the bridge with lines such as “I’m spacing out/ I’m seeing silences between leaves…I’m seeing silences that are his,” her voice begins to echo within itself, and her sung notes assuage open the aural synesthesia of the words. The diaphanous taste of lysergic acid creeps to the fore, and what was once a moderately played acoustic song about the forest expands into a hallucinatory clearing as her multi-tracked held tones meld with the infinite. As her voice dilates, so does the background, now all electrically-processed source sounds like xylophones and wind chimes, and all is enveloped by a low, distorted drone that would one day sound like Phill Niblock, created by– as the liner notes so baldly state it– “amplified shower hose for horn effects.”

It’s nothing compared to the album’s peak, “Parallelograms”. Perhaps you fantasize that Joni Mitchell teaches painting and pottery at your high school, or that Chan Marshall mumbles about the Apocalypse poets during English class, but Perhacs teaching geometry is tantrically hot for teacher. To just read the lyrics of “Quadrehederal/ Tetrahedral/ mono-cyclo-cyber-cilia” is to miss how she and producer Leonard Rosenman assuredly layer her heavenly-sung rounds in concentric circles over a cycling guitar-picked figure, a cumulative effect that reveals a dimension scarcely achieved anywhere else in the world of music. Closer to the Mysterious Voices of Bulgaria or Tim Buckley’s cellular self-choir “Starsailor” than Melanie or Linda Ronstadt, Perhacs drops us into drifting clouds of reverberating bells, echoing flute, and ghostly effluence, her throat outside of time. That a dental assistant in Northern California could more effectively convey the psychedelic experience through the use of the technology of experimental effects, be it early Pink Floyd, Fifty-Foot Hose, or Buffy Saint-Marie’s electroacoustic Illuminations, is, in every clichéd use of the word, mind-blowing.

Other songs deal with girly things like brawny mountain men, dolphins, moonbeams and cattails, the pastel colors of dawn, and the recently-unearthed “If You Were My Man” reveals that she could’ve gone pop with a Karen Carpenter wispiness. Listening to her home demos and studio notes to Roseman though show that she was cognizant of the sound and vibration she wanted. The tape collage lobbed from “Hey Who Really Cares?” is competent– if in hindsight, passé– all disembodied, television voices and a telltale heart beat leading into its pastoral prettiness. Her most folky tunes stand up to the times too, but it’s the fact that Linda Perhacs’ entire cosmos (and whatever those times entailed) could inexplicably fit inside the confines of Parallelograms that remains the true testament to her beauty.

-Andy Beta, pitchfork.com

DOWNLOAD:
Linda Perhacs-PARALLELOGRAMS (1970)
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These are fucking astounding, this stuff was going on a couple years before kosmische was more than a twinkle in the krautrock scene’s eye. It predates Tangerine Dream’s and Manuel Gottsching’s amazing synth work, even! -Ian!

This reissue of the earliest work by Mother Mallard’s Portable Masterpiece Co. includes all of their first album, plus almost 20 minutes of previously unreleased material. The group wore their minimalist influences quite well, resulting in tracks which take the cycling repetitions of work by Steve Reich into new territory altogether, as on the 12-minute “Music.” Most of the music here is a bit beyond minimalism; in fact, it’s much closer to exploratory proto-space music or new age on the highlights “Ceres Motion” and “Cloudscape for Peggy,” the latter of which was composed around the time acts like Tangerine Dream and Cluster were just getting started.

A reissue of Mother Mallard’s second LP on their independent Earthquack Records, this CD presents music from the latter stages of their work as a group, after they had been playing and rehearsing together for five or six years and shortly before David Borden began devoting his full attention to his monumental 12-part Continuing Story of Counterpoint series. During these sessions, the group was a trio (as they generally had been from the beginning), with Borden and colleague Steve Drews as the constants and Judy Borsher replacing Linda Fisher, who had been the third member on earlier recordings. Instrumentation varied somewhat within the group, but since members were actively collaborating with inventor Robert Moog throughout most of the group’s life, various sizes and styles of Moog synthesizers were always the primary instruments, supplemented by an electric piano, which was usually played by Borsher (or Fisher before her). Borden had first envisioned Mother Mallard as a performance group who would disseminate and interpret the musical gospel of Glass, Reich, Riley, and other proponents of the new minimalism, and also feature original compositions by himself and his colleague, Steve Drews. Gradually, the original compositions took over, at least as indicated in the group’s recorded work. However, the influence of the big-name minimalists is relatively strong here, and the seven pieces on this CD all exhibit elements of the rhythmic-pattern minimalism of Glass and Reich, with touches, also, of Riley’s softer, drone-based mysticism. Consequently, although Mother Mallard is capable of the occasional funky ostinato riff, and notes are discreetly bent here and there, one will hear none of the variable pitch weirdness and timbral extremes which characterized prog rock’s early appropriation of Moogs, and which Borden and company dabbled with a bit themselves during the early ’70s. On this CD, Drews receives composer credits on five pieces to Borden’s two, although one of Borden’s two pieces is the lengthy and ambitious “C-A-G-E Part II,” which clocks in at over 20 minutes. Somewhat surprisingly, there’s really not much to chose between Drews and Borden as composers, and although Borden went on to achieve the greater reputation, a piece such as Drews’ “Oleo Strut” could be easily mistaken for one of Borden’s early “Counterpoint” pieces. Drews’ “Waterwheel” is also very appealing, with patterns of different lengths moving in and out of phase with each other, producing some interesting auditory disorientation. Borden’s feature piece is conceptually based, derived from the four musical notes which make up composer John Cage’s last name. The musicians play their parts for prearranged lengths of time, coming together only at the end of the piece. In spite of its logical premises, “C-A-G-E Part II” is a serene, meditative, and even hypnotic musical experience, at times suggesting both Riley’s “In C” and his “Rainbow in Curved Air.” Borden’s sophisticated knowledge of Baroque counterpoint is also evident in this piece, and he would use such elements to an even greater advantage a few years later in the Continuing Story of Counterpoint series.

-John Bush, Bill Tilland, allmusic.com

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1970-1973 (1973)
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LIKE A DUCK TO WATER (1976)
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Do I really have to sell you on these? I didn’t think so. Get ’em if you ever got anything here or ever plan to. They’re all the Virgin/Astralwerks remasters, and they did a pretty good job to my ear. Also, if you’re looking for his ambient albums, I uploaded them here and here and some other places I think.

DOWNLOAD:
HERE COME THE WARM JETS (1974)
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TAKING TIGER MOUNTAIN (BY STRATEGY) (1975)
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ANOTHER GREEN WORLD (1975)
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BEFORE AND AFTER SCIENCE (1977)
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Could have sworn I uploaded NILSSON SINGS NEWMAN once before. In any case, here’s the two-fer comp HARRY and SINGS NEWMAN. They compliment each other well, but when are we going to get some serious reissues of Nilsson’s stuff? I’d kill for a Big Star-type Rhino box set! -Ian!

Ironically, Harry is where Harry Nilsson began to become Nilsson, an immensely gifted singer/songwriter/musician with a warped sense of humor that tended to slightly overwhelm his skills, at least to those who aren’t quite operating on the same level. This aspect of his personality surfaces partially because the record is a crazy quilt of originals, covers, bizarre Americana, quiet ballads, show tunes, and soft-shoe shuffles. It doesn’t really hold together, per se, due to its lack of focus (which, if you’re a cultist, is naturally the reason why it’s charming). Due to the sheer number of shuffling nostalgia trips, it seems as if Nilsson is attempting to sell the entire album on personality and, to anyone who isn’t converted to his unique perspective, these may the moments that make Harry a little difficult to take, even with songs as expertly constructed as the delightful “Nobody Cares About the Railroads Anymore,” an attempt to ape Randy Newman’s Tin Pan Alley style. Then, there are the songs that really work, such as the sardonically cute “The Puppy Song,” the gentle “Mournin’ Glory Story,” and “I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City,” a thoroughly winning folk-rock song he wrote for Midnight Cowboy but which was rejected in favor of “Everybody’s Talkin’.” These are the moments that deliver on the promise of his first two records, while the rest suggests where he would go next, whether in the immediate future (a cover of Newman’s “Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear”) or several years later (the weird in-jokes and insularity of portions of the album, which would become his modus operandi as of Nilsson Schmilsson).

Named Stereo Review’s album of the year (and, really, can you ask for a better endorsement than that?) upon its release and generally regarded as the album that introduced Randy Newman the songwriter to a wide audience, Nilsson Sings Newman has gained a reputation of being an minor masterwork. This, in a way, is misguiding, since this isn’t an obvious record, where the songs are delivered simply and directly. It’s deliberately an album of subtle pleasures, crafted, as the liner notes state, line by line in the studio. As such, the preponderance of quiet piano-and-voice tracks (featuring Newman himself on piano, Nilsson on vocals) means the record can slip away upon the first few listens, especially for anyone expecting an undeniable masterpiece. Yet, a masterpiece is what this is, albeit a subtle, graceful masterpiece where the pleasure is in the grace notes, small gestures, and in-jokes. Not to say that this is devoid of emotion; it’s just that the emotion is subdued, whether it’s on a straightforward love song (“Caroline”) or a tongue-in-cheek tale like “Love Story.” For an album that introduced a songwriter as idiosyncratic as Newman, it’s only appropriate that Nilsson’s interpretations are every bit as original as the songs. His clear intonation and sweet, high voice are more palatable than Randy’s slurred, bluesy growl, but the wild thing is, these versions demand that the listeners surrender to Nilsson’s own terms. He’s created gentle, intricate arrangements of tuneful yet clever songs, and as such, the album may be as much an acquired taste as Newman. Once you’ve acquired that taste, this is as sweet as honey.

-Stephen Thomas Erlewine, allmusic.com

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Harry Nilsson-HARRY / NILSSON SINGS NEWMAN (1969 / 1970)
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An intricate, deliberately idiosyncratic record, assembled piece by piece, Boulders perfectly captures Roy Wood’s peculiar genius, more so than anything else he recorded. All of his obsessions are here — classical music, psychedelia, pre-Beatles pop, pastoral folk ballads, absurdist humor, studio trickery, and good old-fashioned rock & roll — assembled in a gracefully eccentric fashion. Some listeners may find that eccentricity a little alienating, but it’s the core of Wood’s music. He wrote tuneful, accessible songs, but indulged his passions and weird ideas, so even the loveliest melodies and catchiest hooks are dressed in colorful, odd arrangements. The marvelous thing is, these arrangements never sound self-consciously weird – it’s the sound of Wood’s music in full bloom. Never before and never again did his quirks sound so charming, even thrilling, as they do on Boulders. As soon as “Songs of Praise” reaches its chorus, a choir of sped-up, multi-tracked Roys kick in, sending it into the stratosphere. All nine tunes unwind in a similar fashion, each blessed with delightfully unpredictable twists. It’s easy to spot the tossed-off jokes on the goofy “When Gran’ma Plays the Banjo,” but it may take several spins to realize that the percussion on “Wake Up” is the sound of Roy slapping a bowl of water. Boulders is a sonic mosaic — you can choose to wonder at the little details or gaze at the glorious whole, enjoying the shape it forms. Wood has an unerring knack for melodies, whether they’re in folk ballads, sweet pop or old-fashioned rock & rollers, yet his brilliance is how he turns the hooks 180 degrees until they’re gloriously out of sync with his influences and peers. Boulders still sounds wonderfully out of time and it’s easy to argue that it’s the peak of his career.

-Stephen Thomas Erlewine, allmusic.com

DOWNLOAD:
Roy Wood-BOULDERS (1973)
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Another amazing find from FUNK MY SOUL, I’m telling you that blog is the BUSINESS. -Ian!

Skull Snaps were a mysterious funk group that lasted long enough to record and release a self-titled 1973 album before apparently disbanding. Since its small-time release on the GSF label, Skull Snaps has become one of the more legendary rare funk records, having been sampled countless times on rap records. Gang Starr’s “Take It Personal,” Camp Lo’s “Cooley High,” Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Hippa to da Hoppa,” Lords of the Underground’s “Funky Child,” and Diamond D’s “Sally Got a One Track Mind” represent just a handful of the tracks that have put the drums from “It’s a New Day” to use. Charly later issued the album on CD in the ’90s, to the amazement of those who had paid triple figures for the original LP.

Original vinyl copies of Skull Snaps’ one and only LP continue to exchange hands on the rare groove market for three figures. There are two reasons for this: one, it’s rare, and two, the drum breaks from the album have been feasted upon for samples so frequently that samples of the samples have likely been sampled. It’s not that the album is spectacular — it’s merely a decent early-’70s funk record from some accomplished musicians who don’t exactly leave a trademark of their own throughout its nine songs. This soul-drenched funk album is most notable for the drums of “It’s a New Day.” It’s the album’s strongest cut, and the opening drum pattern is as ubiquitous they come — you can hear it get put to re-use in well over two dozen popular rap songs. Anyone who likes hard funk will find much to like — the vocals are gruff, the rhythms are tough yet nimble (the drums are crisp and smacking throughout), and the subject matter takes on everything from pimps to romance to everyday relationships.

-Andy Kellman, allmusic.com

DOWNLOAD:
Skull Snaps-SKULL SNAPS (1973)
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The 1971 movie Vanishing Point managed to become a cult hit, with its story of a Benzedrine-popping driver (Barry Newman) in a race for his life with the police of several states, but somehow the soundtrack managed to remain out-of-print until 2004, when Soundtrack Classics reissued it on CD. The music is surprisingly cohesive, primarily built around different aspects of country-rock as embodied variously by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, the Doug Dillard Expedition, and Jerry Reed, with some gospel tracks by Segarini & Bishop and Big Mama Thornton, plus Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen.”

The music is all eminently listenable and then some, and has an earthiness that makes it more than a little bracing — only the lyrical, string-dominated love theme, provided by Jimmy Bowen and his orchestra, breaks that mood and even it works within its own musical context, and is explainable given the time in which the movie was made. The entire release rather favorably recalls the soundtracks to Easy Rider and Zabriskie Point, but Vanishing Point stands up quite nicely musically on its own.

-Bruce Eder, allmusic.com

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Various Artists-VANISHING POINT OST (1971)
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If ever an album demanded an “ultimate edition” type of repackaging, it is Mott the Hoople’s Brain Capers, a record that was so divisive, so damaged, and ultimately so destructive that the bandmembers themselves needed two goes at getting it all down on tape — one self-produced, the other with regular producer Guy Stevens — before finally emerging with, as Ian Hunter put it, the sound of a band tearing itself apart. They broke up just months later. Tantalizing snippets from the unused portion of the sessions have been scattered across a wealth of compilations, and Angel Air’s remastering adds one more to the pile, an alternate version of the multi-hued panic of “The Journey.” (The other bonus cut, a live version of the non-LP “Midnight Lady” single, is more or less dispensable.) It’s a shame — bolstered, as it already is, by best-ever sound quality and a superb booklet, this edition of Brain Capers should have taken the opportunity to bring everything together. Instead…well, maybe some day. That is, of course, the only regret one can possibly feel as Mott the Hoople’s fourth and (had it not been for Bowie’s subsequent intervention) final album. Hunter explained, “We were getting complacent. If you are a band like us, a lot of the adrenalin is set off by the audience. When you are in a studio, it’s a very barren sort of atmosphere, and it’s hard to get the substitute — to get the same kind of adrenaline into your body. You have to get yourself into a kind of rage. Some people get stoned, some get drunk. We smashed a few things about.” And, while he admitted that “the thought of wrecking a studio seems rather stupid, I can assure you we were pretty dead when we went in there, and five days later, we were really excited.”

The sessions reflect that excitement, transforming themselves before the band’s very eyes into what Ian Hunter later called “three days of madness, done very quickly.” Song titles were changed as their nature developed — “Mental Train” became “The Moon Upstairs,” “How Long” was reworked first as “A Duck Can Swim With Me” and then as “Death May Be Your Santa Claus.” The album itself came perilously close to being titled AC/DC before producer Stevens hit upon the far more suitable Brain Capers. The grinding riff that wraps up “The Journey” was reborn as the cacophonic closer “Wheel of the Quivering Meat Conception,” and the brace of covers that hove into view — “Darkness Darkness” and “Your Own Back Yard” — were steamrolled as thoroughly as the original material. The result would later be tagged among the least commercial albums ever released by a so-called rising rock band. But Mott was sick of rising and wound up, instead, with what rates among the most important of its age, as Hunter later realized. “I didn’t listen to [that album] for years, and then the punks started talking about it. You can actually hear the Sex Pistols loud and clear.”

-Dave Thompson, allmusic.com

DOWNLOAD:
Mott the Hoople-BRAIN CAPERS (1971)
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This is an incredible rip of EXILE by PBTHAL, which I believe is not even available on his blog. Anyway, I think everyone should know about the incredible work he’s doing.

This was recorded differently than the THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST rip I posted earlier was recorded, different person! PBTHAL captures at 192khz, way higher than the SATANIC REQUEST guy did. PBTHAL also has arguably better hardware. It is then dithered down to Redbook standard 16bit / 44.1khz. In other words, analog captured as highly as consumer hardware really even allows. Now. Which is insanely better than what was available to studios in 1987, or whenever, when CDs of old albums were being made from master tapes with early, primitive DACs. Even remasters that claim to use original masters now tend to do who knows what to them.

Here’s some literal symbolism for you: look at the sleeve art from the vinyl, and now compare it to the sleeve from the CD version. Notice the difference? The art on the vinyl is a messy patchwork with obvious masking tape holding the pieces together. The CD version smooths everything down until it all looks like one professional layer. Sloppy replaced with the illusion of sloppy.

Now listen to the original mix. There are tons of mistakes. You hear dropouts, wrong plug-ins, rumbles, sibilance. These aren’t from the medium of vinyl, trust me. Jimmy Miller knew what he was doing. This was an intentionally sprawling mess in concept.

You feel like you’re in the room during Sweet Virginia, I turned my head when the saxophone came in. Hear the deep thud in the right ear during the beginning of Loving Cup. Hey, what was that weird squelch of the vocals as it went into the verse? It was Jimmy Miller or Keith Richards de-pressing a button when layering takes into the mix.

You might find yourself saying, “Ian, come on. There’s distortion during Torn and Frayed!” To which I would say, “Listen closer, idiot! That’s TAPE FLUTTER. From the MASTER TAPE. It’s SUPPOSED TO BE THERE!” This album feels lived in. It creaks like old floorboards.

Guess stuff like that gets washed away in numbing barrage of Noise Reduction during the CD remaster.

This has been THE DEFINITIVE EXILE for me for about a year. Which makes it pretty much my favorite recording of anything, ever. There’s like maybe three albums ever made that top this for me. It’s as good as it’s ever going to get. I’ve taken the liberty of making this rip available in MP3, again, for those people that just want to hear the mix but are unconcerned with lossless fidelity and just want it on their iPods.

Yes, I know. This was pretty much a big slab of hyperbole. But there aren’t reviews specific to the original vinyl, comparing it to subsequent remasters. So I had to write something. Cut me some slack, jerk!

Please consider other excellent recordings of rare vinyl from PBTHAL:
http://pbthal.blogspot.com

DOWNLOAD:
The Rolling Stones-EXILE ON MAIN ST. ORIGINAL UK VINYL by PBTHAL (1972)
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MP3 VERSION
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