I don't get it...Exile on main Street-Blue

I love to listen to great podcast/interviews with great musicians. Last night i listened to Rick Beato interview Maynard from the great band Tool. Besides being a fantastic conversation, Maynard told Rick the two most influential albums for his music inspiration are Joni Mitchell Blue, and Black Sabbath's first self titled record.

I understand and love Black Sabbaths first record, but I have listened to JM Blue countless times and just don't understand what the hype is. Full disclosure I love female vocalists, and I also love Joni's  Court and a Spark. With that said I have heard many musicians rave about Blue. Please enlighten me-what am I missing ?

The other head scratcher for me is Exile on Main Street by the Stones. Again I have heard many musicians rave about this double album. I don't get it... Beggars Banquet-Let it Bleed-Sticky Fingers are so much better in my opinion, but just like Blue, It seems like musicians much prefer Exile on Main Street.

I know its all subjective...but these are two records I have never learned to appreciate. Thoughts ?


I listened to Blue and Exile non stop when they first came out, still like both, especially Exile...not too familiar with Tool...where you around when Blue and Exile were released ? ... I was big fans of both artists from the beginning, and my interest started to fade for each, after those 2 albums...

Full disclosure I love female vocalists…”
How does such a sexist qualification necessitate a preface of “full disclosure…”?
Full disclosure: I abhor sexism.  
Do you refer to “male vocalist” as if it’s a “genre” or do you just call them “vocalists? (because that’s what they are, right?)  Would we categorize and label Black Sabbath and Exile on Main Street as “male rock albums,” or just “rock albums” (because that’s what they are, right?)

These are much more interesting questions to me than whether someone likes something.  
P.S. you already had the right answer when you said, “it’s all subjective.”  There’s nothing wrong with you for not liking a thing. You don’t have to like it. FWIW those are two of my favorite LPs but…who cares what I think? Nothing I or anyone can say will cause you to be moved by something that doesn’t move you.

Music touch us so deep precisely because it is in a way unique for each of us and personal...

It is why there is no unanimous jazz album that do it for eveyone , the same is true in classical music or in sitar ragas interpretation ...

We all recognized geniuses unanimously but we differ between us about the impact of this or this musicians...

Why Chet Baker is so important for me and Bill Evans way over other names ?

It is not right or wrong just they speak as language akin to my own soul more easy to understand ..


I don’t get Blue either and I love Joni Mitchell.  For the Roses, Court and Spark, The Hissing of Summer Lawns, Hejira and Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter are all outstanding and get a lot of play on my system.  Maybe I need to revisit Blue, but it’s just never clicked.  Exile on Main Street is a great album but would tend to agree with you that Beggars Banquet, Let it Bleed, and Sticky Fingers are better imo.

I was...I love both Joni and the Stones. The above mentioned records were far from their best in my opinion. The point of my post is that countless times I hear an interview with a great musician...these two records are often mentioned as their inspiration to make great music.

I'm certainly not saying their wrong... I'm just saying I missed the boat on both of these iconic records.

TylerMunns- Go read your DEI manual and crawl back into your miserable life.


@tylermunns not sure how any of the OPs opinions are sexist.  Differentiating male and female vocals is not sexist.  The average vocal range of the two is different.  Noting the difference is not the same as saying men sing better than women.  And in this case saying that you like female vocals has nothing to do with being sexist.  Liking female vocalists is no different than saying I like the saxophone.  Neither is a genre but certainly valid non-sexist statements. 

I can't stand Mitchell. (And to be fair it's not just the music, all subjective, my memories)

Let It Bleed is my #1, #2, #3 Stones album. Exile is OK.

I love to watch female soccer. A lot more technical and less physical than male soccer. Apologies to men. I am also embarrassed I didn't just call it soccer. 

TylerMunns- Go read your DEI manual and crawl back into your miserable life.

The Bill O'Relly of Audiogon cannot help himself.

@jastralfu Of course there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the (clearly different from a male’s) sound of a female voice.
Of course everything you say is true, but none of it addresses what I said or what the actual issue is.
I’ve never once heard someone say, “I love male artists.”
I’ve never once heard Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen or Bruce Springsteen (or whomever - just a few ex.) referred to a “a male artist.”
They’re referred to as “artists.”
Yet Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Lana Del Rey (or whomever - just a few ex.) are so very often referred to not as “artists,” but “female artists,” as though an actual artistic distinction need be made.
It’s just dumb and sexist.
They’re all artists, some are better than others, some people like some more than others.

This ain’t athletics where there are many scientifically proven facts that point to irrefutable differences in muscle mass, strength, leaping ability, etc. between males and females.
Artistically and creatively, we’re all on a completely level playing field.

To quote Kurt Cobain, sorry to be so anally PC, but that’s the way I feel.


I’ve never once heard someone say, “I love male artists.”

And since The Bill O'Reilly of Audiogon has never heard anyone say it, that automatically means that it has never been said.

Wow! So I just found out that stating a preference is sexist. Full disclosure, I love female vocalists. Generally, more than male. Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Eva Cassidy or Jennifer Warnes have the ability to tug at my soul far more than any male vocalists. Don't get me wrong, I like all.

As for a preference, who knows what's at play. I grew up in the 50's and 60's listening to classical music at home and rock when I could. Peter, Paul and Mary rocked my soul back then and inspired me to become a fairly proficient guitar player. That said, I never really got the Beatles or Stones. Why? beats me.

@tylermunns i hear what you’re saying I just don’t think it applies here.  OP is not being sexist.  Saying that you like female vocalists is not in the same context as your examples.  It’s perfectly valid to say I like vocalists, particularly female vocalists.  I often think in terms of male vs female vocalists and often lean toward female voices.  Disagree that we are all on a level playing field artistically or creatively, but being male or female is not a differentiating factor.  However, it might be a factor in what someone likes.

"Peter, Paul and Mary rocked my soul..."

I don't think Peter, Paul and Mary 'rocked' anything...

Bill O’Reilly the author?

  • The Bill O'Reilly of Audiogon has never heard anyone say it

He is working on a new book called "Killing Female Vocalists."

Bill O’Reilly the author?


@jastralfu when I said “level playing field” I meant, unlike athletics where it’s a scientifically proven fact that males have a physical advantage over females, none such exists in art.

Your obviously new to music forum conversations. Female vocalists are often referred to by that description. There is no slight or bias when that phrase is mentioned.

But your one of those woke idiots that wants to turn everything into an argument.

What makes music special is that its usually exempt from all the political bullshit.

Please refer to my original post...and if you have nothing but your woke agenda to contribute....go away you troll.

My Lord even the Audiophile world is infiltrated with these poison minds that want to wreck everything.



I don't think Peter, Paul and Mary 'rocked' anything...

Doo you take everything literally?

@tylermunns  You keep repeating that calling female vocalist is sexist. In a context where it's the point. A men won't/can't have a female voice. Not even close. If I had to choose what I can listen to for the rest of my life, I would choose female singers. I prefer female doctors, female massage therapists, female vocalists. (And I have no desire to flirt with them, I don't care for how they look, I care about how good they are at their job.)

Does it make me sexist? If it does, I am clueless about what sexist is.

I was 2 years old when these albums came out. However, I noticed that I had put both Blue and Court and a Spark in my ROON library. I wanted to hear these 2 again since I love my office system now. It just sounds great.

I thought Court and a Spark was rather good but could not get into Blue.

With the Stones I love Exile. I found that as my gear improved the Stones became my favorite band. I love Exile on my phones too.

I actually have to limit how much of the Stones I listen to so as not to overdo it. Now I have heard the Stones since the 70’s but maybe I am only hearing them at their best today,

The new Stones album is also rather good.

BTW - that post on sexism, my first thought was Russian or Chinese troll. I mean that in the best sense.

@grislybutter Please don’t misrepresent my words.  
At no point was it ever “the point” to label, categorize and speak of an artist on terms of gender, male or female.  
The most recent thread topic where I expressed my objection to the “female artist” label was a OP asking whether forum members like Taylor Swift. This OP asks whether one is “missing something” when non-plussed by the albums Blue and Exile on Main Street.  
When the whole “female artist” thing emerged in both cases, I expressed my objection to it in each scenario.  
I kinda can’t believe how much I have to clarify this, but of course there’s nothing wrong with being inclined to prefer the sonic aesthetic of a female voice.  
It’s still just an artist, not a “female artist.”  
Again, my qualm is the labeling of artists, not with any individual’s preferred sonic aesthetic.  
Of course, your insinuation that a male voice can’t be mistaken for a female one is overstated. Many male vocalists can sound like a female.  
It wasn’t until I saw a video of Russell Oberlin singing that I realized it was a male.  
There are other vocal performances where it would be understandable to mistakenly believe it was sung by a person of a different gender.


I have more CDs and SACDs with female vocalists and groups featuring female vocalists than I do of male vocalists and groups featuring male vocalists. (As a matter of fact, I have one double SACD titled "The Wonderful Sound Of Female Vocalists.") Like you, @yyzsantabarbara , I have both Court (HDCD) and Blue (MFSL redbook) and neither of them ever did a whole lot of anything for me (every so many blue moons I play one or the other "just because I can") but Joni is not my one of my favorite female vocalists.

I also have a lot of CDs and SACDs featuring male vocalists that I truly enjoy; however, in general, I prefer the sound of the female voice to that of the male voice. For me, it’s kind of a chocolate milkshake versus vanilla milkshake thing--I like them both, but usually, not always, when I am in a mood for milkshakes I order chocolate.

that post on sexism, my first thought was Russian or Chinese troll.

Well, you did get the 'troll' part right.


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IMO,music/musicians considered "excellent"by so called experts is often ear grating horror to my ears.Case in point,all the critical acclaim for Patricia Barber or Diana Krall,BOTH who I consider tone deaf & flat compared to a vocalist like Melody Gardot or Madeleine Peyroux.
By the by,my absolute fav.Stones is Some Girls so go figure.

And in terms of the stupid back and forth happening on this thread, how about ignoring a comment made that’s not directly answering the OPs post? You’re no bigger responding to an unrelated comment with an unrelated answer, you’re contributing to the devolvement of this forum. a football coach I had once told me, “if its stupid enough to make you angry it’s smartest to ignore.”

@sammyshaps  , so you felt the need to comment and not ignore?

Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Eva Cassidy or Jennifer Warnes have the ability to tug at my soul far more than any male vocalists.

@llg98ljk , those are some of my favorites. I just recently got an old copy of Emmylou Live At The Ryman for her cover of Steve Earle’s Guitar Town, and I love the entire CD.

IMO,music/musicians considered "excellent"by so called experts is often ear grating horror to my ears.Case in point,all the critical acclaim for Patricia Barber or Diana Krall,BOTH who I consider tone deaf & flat compared to a vocalist like Melody Gardot or Madeleine Peyroux.

No accounting for taste, @freediver . Actually, however, I used to like Some Girls myself. I’ve never been a real big fan of The Rolling Stones, but I did like Tatoo You an awful lot when it came out. I still like "Waiting For a Friend" but I no longer own a TT and LPs, and the CD I have just doesn’t make it sound as good as I remember it sounding.


I will attempt to answer the initial question. Artists, especially extremely talented writers like Maynard are listening from an advantage most of us can only dream of. He is hearing structure, timing, syncopation and other musical traits most of us just hear as harmony or beat. I grew up in a family of talented musicians and know firsthand what odd musical tastes some have. Sometimes I think they don't hear what I hear, but I can appreciate it anyways.

I agree with OP. Especially his Stones albums. I would add For the Roses to JM’s best other than Blue. @jmalen123 ​​​​​ makes sense to me. I know many professional musicians. Some have just a boom box for CDs. A few have good systems. But most, like book writers, take away from a work what they feel they can be inspired by or use. It’s not about production to them, or the tunes, or the execution, when it comes to recorded music. It’s about risk sometimes and pulling it off. I think a lot of this acclaim for those 2 records goes back to the initial deep think pieces when they came out. They were risky. Blue to many reviewers touched on a more mature, relationship based theme, with other musicians no less, as opposed to toe-tapping, something the press loved. Exile was followed in the press as it was being made and there was a lot of talk about emulating American roots sounds and so on. Something the Dead and Burritos and others were trying to do but this was The Stones. Both records take risks in not being immediately accessible. They have moods instead.

Exile has some great songs on it but it also has a lot of mediocre songs too.  I've always felt it was over rate.  It has twice the number of songs as Sticky Fingers but only an equal number of great songs.

Agree on both counts. Very few 'seminal' recordings have impressed me on their own. I generally believe it is because of my age (50). Many of these records were out and established by the time I ran into them. The techniques and aesthetics had already been adopted into the language of music, so much so that the initial 'groundbreaking' aspects of the record comes off as trite. At least that's what I tell myself. My wife is more blunt - she just says people just have bad taste.

There are still some that make it: Black Sabbath, Violent Femmes, Radiohead Kid A, Nina Simone's Little Girl Blue, Gang of Four. But most seminal records on my list would be considered unknown - Freeborne's Peak Impressions, Pavement's Slanted and Enchanted, Amon Duul 2 Dance of the Lemmings, Mezz Mezzrow & His Band's Blue Note 10", UT's In Gut's House, Neutral Milk Hotel, Rob Jo Starr Band anybody?

I recently picked up a copy of Television's Marquee Moon. Really trying to appreciate it, but still undecided. My first listen at age 13 - I remember thinking - what a boring record. I guess there are worse problems to have. 

I had bought The Exile on Main Street twice, trying to "get it" and failed, except for Shine a Light. To each his/her own. I think the life would be boring if everybody liked exactly the same things. I could be wrong, I have been wrong before.

The reasons why so many musicians mention these albums? Firstly, that Joni Mitchell’s Blue used many unique guitar tunings and sounds while also being such a highly emotional and autobiographical album. It communicated in a highly sophisticated, musical and lyrical way her breakup from Graham Nash (Hollies and Crosby, Stills & Nash) with both the music and lyrics working as one to create a very personal yet relatable album that is a complete musical work of art.

With The Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street is seen by musicians as covering so many genres of music and incorporating their free spirit approach to making music while acting as the pinnacle of all their earlier albums. Basically it’s now regarded by many musicians as their most musically important hard rock album.

Does this mean that Blue and Exile on Main Street are their best albums? From some aspects yes, but from the general public’s perspective not necessarily so.

Music is an art form. We all like different things which can change over time as well.. As most understand here as well, this also can apply to the sound systems that reproduce the music. 

Talking about Tool's Maynard, next Saturday I'm going to see him in Houston for the Sessenta concert. It celebrates his 60th birthday and he will sing with 3 bands, Primus, A Perdect Circle and Puscifer. How great is that! I'm turning 70 this year but can still rock with the best.


Musicians rating LPs is very much like film critics rating movies?  They often relate to things on a different level than the general public.  Just go to Rotten Tomatoes and see how often the "Critics" will rate a film 90 - 100 and the general public gives the same film a score of 50 or below.  Not being a musician, JM's Blue didn't influence me whereas Musicians......  Just a thought. 

"I'm turning 70 this year but can still rock with the best."

Not only that, but you bear an uncanny resemblance to a young David Bowie.


@immatthewj you are my hero! 

I love fall, spring makes me sneeze, oh no yep, I'm an admitted sesonist.

i've always admired blue (as well as joni) from a distance--it's very well done, but except for the ethereal "river" always sounded a bit precious for my philistine tastes. otoh "exile" is fantastic--one of the few classic albums i've never gotten tired of hearing for the 1000th time. i can understand why some would prefer "sticky fingers" or "beggars banquet" (i rate "let it bleed" less highly)--they're less murky and more immediately grabby, but "exile" has real soul

I once took a female singer home to dinner! Wow dei in this discussion is absurd. Do I have to count how many female singers I have in my library or excuse me singers with a high pitched voice . I liked Joni because her personal introspective songs were special not because I identified with them but because I could feel her pain. By the way my favorite album of hers was her live double album specifically the acoustic side.  The lastime I saw richard is special.  As to the stones I liked them but ultimately never bought their albums not sure why. Maybe because all their songs got so much airplay. 

Tylermunns kept referring to "female artist" when the OP actually said "female vocalist".  There's a huge difference. The latter is an accepted musical category among listeners, and you'll find it on just about all the music Distributors and storefronts. The former is simply a label.

I haven't read every post here, but as a 1969 HS graduate, Dylan was the giant of songwriting when Joni came on the scene. Her early, more universal songs (like on Ladies and Clouds) made her a songwriting star.  Then she turned to more confessional songs (like on Blue, For The Roses), which brought in an even wider audience.  The audio quality was excellent on all of these Reprise releases, but the instrumentation on Blue was more varied, the vocals more energetic, and the production had more density, but was never overcrowded.  I rate it and Hejira her best.

Exile never struck me as a top tier Stones album, especially after the desert island trifecta of Beggars, Bleed, and Sticky.  But I've known some big Stones fans who put it in that group.  I jumped on the Stones' train as soon as it left the station, so I also adore ENH (US release of 1st album), Now! and OOOH.