Exile On Main Street

Loving Cup vs. Loving Cup: Grudge Match

Friend of HT Andrew Bruss compares two versions of a Stones’ classic..

The Rolling Stones’ magnum opus, Exile On Main Street, has recently been remastered, and re-released with an additional disc of B-sides, highlighted by an early outtake of fan-favorite, Loving Cup. Ben Ratliff of The New York Times called this outtake amongst the best tracks the Stones ever recorded, and said it was superior to the studio-cut Stones fans have spent nearly four decades appreciating. While this B-side is an amazing track, featuring the unmastered grit and grime you’d expect from an early live show, there are arguments for and against Ratliff’s bold assertion.

The most obvious difference is in the piano intro performed by Nicky Hopkins. On the studio cut, this intro is brief, and to the point, segueing right into Jagger’s affirmation that he’s “the man on the mountain,” asking you to “come on up.” On the B-side, the piano intro is sullied by its added length, and slower tempo. The piano intro on the studio cut and B-side both clock in at around 15 seconds, but the slower tempo on the latter gives the listener an impression that the B-side is considerably longer and the perception of this delay in getting to the vocals makes it less of an intro and more of a segment of its own. This effectively weakens the effectiveness of the “less is more” philosophy the Stones mastered on tracks like Sweet Virginia and Rip This Joint.

Mick Jagger’s vocals on any Stones track are always amongst the most definable characteristics, and on both takes of Loving Cup, this proves to be no exception. Although the vocal track on the B-side is generally more emotive, incorporating more vibrato, it proves inferior to the original. One of the highest-energy moments on Exile is Jagger’s lyrical burst, “gimmie little drink,” and on the B-side, he takes his time to get to that sense of urgency, deflating the effectiveness of the lyrics.

READ ON for more of Andrew’s Loving Cup analysis…

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