Rolling Stones – Exile On Main Street Reissue Variations

Looking through the Sunday fliers in the paper this morning I noticed that Target is going to have an exclusive CD available on Tuesday May 18th in conjunction with the widely-anticipated reissue of the Rolling Stones landmark 1972 album Exile on Main Street. In true fan-exploitative fashion there will be many versions of this release to choose from. Since I was looking into this, I thought I’d help break this down for the casual shopper.

Exile on Main Street in the new century is largely regarded as  influential in popular music as Sgt. Pepper’s or Pet Sounds. I think that the Rock/Country/Soul/Blues fusion on Exile singlehandedly created what would be known as “Americana” or “Alt.Country. According to Wikipedia, Exile quickly hit #1 on the UK Top 50 and the US Billboard charts, and charted into the Top 10 in the Hot 100 with “Tumbling Dice” and tracks like “Happy” and “Loving Cup” are regarded as standards.

I picked up a used copy of Exile on CD used many years ago. The version I have is the CBS CD pressing from the 80′s (CGK 40489) which proudly announces “2 RECORD SET ON 1 COMPACT DISC.” When the Rolling Stones Records catalog went to Virgin Records they did a remaster of Exile along with the rest of the catalog which was released in July 1994 based on Amazon’s information and came in packaging that looked like the original LP. When I heard that a reissue and remaster was forthcoming, I was interested in replacing my CBS copy. The sheer number of options is surprising, but likely caters to anyone’s needs.

Exile on Main Street (1 CD “Original Recording Remastered”) This is the one that should tide over most Rolling Stones fans. This is the original 18-track album remastered and– according to Amazon.com– is in a special jewel case which will allow it to fit in the “Remasters Box” which was missing Exile. Should be $9.99 this week.

Exile on Main Street Deluxe Edition (2 CD “Deluxe Edition, Extra Tracks, Original Recording Remastered”) This release expands the 1 CD version to include a second 10-track CD of previously-unreleased tracks that were recorded around the same time as the music on Exile. Should be $19.99 this week. Note: If you buy the Deluxe Edition from Best Buy you will get a bonus interview CD.

Exile on Main Street Super Deluxe Edition (2 CD, 1 DVD, 2LP, Hard Cover Book, Original Recording Remastered) This release expands the 2 CD Deluxe Edition to include two LP’s and a 30-minute DVD which has a documentary on Exile which includes footage from “lost” documentary Cocksucker Blues and Ladies and Gentlemen… The Rolling Stones and Stones in Exile. The Ladies and Gentlemen film was a film which “toured” movie theaters in 1974. The film was based on the Exile tour. Also included is a 50-page hardcover book. A really nice package for certain. Should be around $179.98 list price, with Amazon listing it at $139.

Exile on Main Street 2 LP (2 LP, Original Recording Remastered) This is the 2 180g vinyl LP edition of Exile on Main Street in a double-gatefold sleeve. These are the same LP’s included in the Super Deluxe Edition. Should be $34.99 or less.

Exile on Main Street Rarities Edition (1 CD Target and iTunes Exclusive) This is a Target and iTunes exclusive release. This is effectively the second CD in the Deluxe and Super Deluxe editions. Ten tracks recorded during the same time as the Exile on Main Street songs. These songs have been produced and mixed by The Glimmer Twins and Don Was especially for the Exile reissues. The Sunday Target flier says that the Rarities Edition will be available for $9.99. Target also is offering a “Limited Edition Exile on Main Street Rarities Fan Pack” which bundles the Rarities Edition with a cool teeshirt and guitar pick– all for $19.99.

The cool thing about the Target Rarities Edition is that I can pick this single disc up and buy the LP edition and I get a kind of blend of the Deluxe and Super Deluxe editions. I get the main album on LP’s and the bonus tracks on a CD.

Whichever version of Exile on Main Street you choose, it is an essential album for anyone’s collection.

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2 Responses to “Rolling Stones – Exile On Main Street Reissue Variations”


  • Does anybody find that this remastered cd sounds terrible, it hurts my ears to listen to it and I am a fan. I’ve only listened to it on my computer so far but after a couple tracks I put on Steve Earle’s “I Feel Alright” cd and it sounds fantastic. Hugely disappointed with Exile remastered.

  • I actually haven’t really listened to the remasters, yet. I picked up the Target Rarities-only disc. My plan is to get some version of Exile on vinyl (original or early pressing likely). The folks over on the Steve Hoffman forums seem to agree with you. As advertised this is a remastering of Exile– not a remixed version. So, the master tapes that were used for this remaster were actually the ones created in the early 90′s for the Virgin reissues after they acquired the catalog of Rolling Stones Records. According to one interview I listened to with Don Was on NPR the remaster did seem to change the dynamics of the recording– I don’t know if that means that this version is “brickwalled” but it certainly was bumped up a bit and EQ’d.

    Incidentally, Don Was was only involved in the production of the Rarities disc– although I guess he was involved with the original remixes done in the 90′s.

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