While Beatles-level sales remain a one-off, the Stones' output is certainly a catalog ripe for reinvigoration, and the "Exile" reissue-which drops internationally May 17 and one day later in the United States on Rolling Stones Records/Universal-comes in a variety of physical and digital editions in a bid to boost sales in this increasingly non-CD-orientated era.
There's a standard remastered 18-track CD, a double-vinyl edition and two deluxe issues-a double-CD edition set to retail for around $17-$20 and a super deluxe boxed set containing two CDs, a DVD, two vinyl discs and a book, which will retail for $125-$150. In the United Kingdom, iTunes will release a digital version of the deluxe "Exile" package, featuring exclusive video content.
But the big selling point, in contrast to previous reissues of Stones albums, is the deluxe editions' addition of 10 previously unheard tracks, originally recorded during the era and unearthed specially for the rerelease. For Stones fans the new material-most of it has never even surfaced on unofficial bootlegs-is likely to be a strong enticement to revisit the album.
"For people who just dig the Stones and aren't fanatics, I hope they like listening to it," longtime Stones producer Don Was says. "And to the hardcore fans, I hope their eyes bug out when they hear these."
Was worked alongside the band in trawling its considerable archive for unreleased material and produced the 10 tracks with the Glimmer Twins from the original recordings made by Jimmy Miller. Of the new material, two tunes, "Loving Cup" and "Soul Survivor," are alternate takes of "Exile" originals, while several other songs are brand-new updates of previously unreleased studio recordings.
The slow-burning piano-led ballad "Following the River," for example, was an instrumental backing track languishing in the Stones' vault, but now features an entirely new lyric and vocal performance from Jagger. Richards has also added fresh guitar parts to the psychedelia-flavored "So Divine (Aladdin Story)," while several other tracks feature newly recorded inserts and vocal additions from the Stones frontman.
Even the band is surprised at some of the unearthed gems. "I hadn't really realized how much was left over until I started going into this project," Richards says. "I automatically assumed that anything good [and unused] that we'd done on 'Exile' would roll over to . . . what was the next one, 'Goat's Head Soup?' "
"I knew there was loads of stuff lying around," Jagger says. "But I didn't know what time period it came from. I wanted to be faithful to the time period-I didn't want to take things out of context, so [I've tried] to pick things that were recorded in that time frame. Some of them are of interest and fun, but some of them are really good, so I hope people like them."
The "Exile" global campaign kicked off April 16 with the world premiere of "Plundered My Soul" on U.K. AC station BBC Radio 2. Reminiscent of "Exile" original "All Down the Line," the soulful rock track-where Jagger passionately declares, "I thought you wanted my loving, but it's my heart that you stole"-"Plundered" was serviced to all formats, with triple A, modern rock and classic rock outlets quick to adopt the catchy rock track, according to Davis. A 7-inch single of "Plundered" was also one of the most popular sellers on Record Store Day (April 17).