Original Artist: The Rolling Stones
Original Album: Exile on Main St (1972)
Historian: Martin Acaster
Las Vegas is often the first thing that springs to mind when gambling is considered. This modern day Mecca for the casino adherent, while at first glance appearing to be entirely contrived and almost disingenuously decadent, is actually a larger-than-life caricature of the humble origins of gaming itself. Whether you prefer to try your luck at the Luxor, Caesar's Palace, or the Monte Carlo, you are simply carrying on a tradition that originated thousands of years ago in the Nile Delta, spread throughout the Roman Empire, and was revived and modernized in the 17th Century along the shores of the Mediterranean Riviera of Italy, France, and perhaps most famously in Monte Carlo, a mere throw of the Rolling Stones from Keith Richards' waterfront Villa Nellcôte. Despite the band's efforts to the contrary, Mick may not even be the most infamous Jagger to be all sixes and sevens and nines in Monte Carlo. His distant cousin Joseph Jagger was one of two men (Charles Wells being the other) who "broke the bank at Monte Carlo" during the late 1800s.
Being fully immersed in this atmosphere of bikini-clad decadence while recording Exile it comes as no surprise that the Rolling Stones would write a song about it. What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but what happened on the French Riviera is forever memorialized in "Casino Boogie." Although this song captures the thrill freak essence of the Rolling Stones very well, they have never performed it live. Perhaps, similar to the mantra of Tyler Durden, the first rule of being in Exile is that you do not talk about being in Exile. This rule is destined to be broken as the film Stones in Exile is set to debut in Cannes. Thanks to "Casino Boogie" we already know what Mick likes to do while in Cannes.
Although the Stones had never played "Casino Boogie" live, the performance by Phish during their Exile set at Festival 8 (10/31/09) was by no means the first time another artist had covered the song. Jon Spencer's band Pussy Galore released their version of Exile in 1986 and a cover of "Casino Boogie" was included on the self-titled first album released in 1990 by Casino Steel, former member of The Hollywood Brats. Casino Steel's cover was also included in the Rolling Stones cover compilation Perfectly Stoned released by Merry Records in 1995. The Pussy Galore version is a raw chaotic mess. Casino's "Boogie" is clean and well polished. The version Phish played at Festival 8 was lying somewhere between these two endpoints and relatively languid by comparison until it veered off into "Type-I" jam territory that is most commonly visited during any given performance of "Julius." In so doing, Phish did to "Casino Boogie" what Vegas has done to the little gambling houses that existed on the shores of the Mediterranean perhaps as far back as the days of Caesar.