All Down the Line
Vocals: Trey, Mike, Page
Original Artist: The Rolling Stones
Original Album: Exile on Main St (1972)
Historian: Martin Acaster (Doctor_Smarty)
Originally written and recorded as a sparse but soulful bluesy demo during the Let it Bleed sessions at Olympic Studios in London in 1969, "All Down the Line" morphed into a full throttle electric ode to the tour bus when re-recorded during the Exile sessions at Sunset Sound Studios in Los Angeles. In its crude original form it is clearly a work in progress, with Mick Jagger improvising on the fly and mumbling through several portions of the song where he had yet to find the words. The version which appears as the opening track to side four of Exile not only contains the full (and in places, revised) lyrics of the song, it is further enhanced with the stunning slide guitar work of Mick Taylor, both electric and acoustic stand up bass licks from Bill Wyman and Bill Plummer respectively, raunchy horns from Bobby Keys and Jim Price, Nicky Hopkins' classic honky tonk piano, Jimmy Miller on maracas, and last but certainly not least, the backing vocals of Kathi MacDonald.
The Rolling Stones, "All Down the Line" – 2006, New York, NY
Lyrically the song takes the form of a frantic plea, which to paraphrase would be along the lines of "don't make a fuss... just get on the bus." However, where the Toad-O lead singer's delivery in "Crew Slut" is slippery and suave, the suitor in "All Down the Line" is urgent and unsure. The sense of coercion being aimed at the girl is unmistakable in either case. She is the sanctified girl with the sanctified mind who can deliver that shot of salvation the protagonist so desperately needs for that long ride down the line to the next show. Why won't she be his little baby for a while?
Phish, "All Down the Line" – 10/31/09, Indio, CA
The Rolling Stones debut live performance of "All Down the Line" was on 6/3/72 in Vancouver, BC. While it doesn't quite reach the stature of "Jumping Jack Flash" as far as being the most frequently played song in the Rolling Stones live canon, "All Down the Line" has been in regular rotation with numerous appearances in tours throughout the '70s and '80s, and has been featured in every Stones tour since Voodoo Lounge was released in 1994. Phish played "All Down the Line" with a vengeance during their Halloween costume Exile set at Festival 8 (10/31/09). Although it may have been missing Mick Taylor's electric slide and Jagger's swagger; the climactic horny soul sister breakdown dropped by Sharon Jones and Saundra Williams on vocals, Dave Guy on trumpet, David Smith on trombone, and Tony Jarvis on saxophone took the song to places that even the Stones album version never quite reached.