“All Down the Line,” a great Rolling Stones song, probably is in the band’s second tier in terms of popularity and recognition. It’s not “Honky Tonk Women,” “Satisfaction” or “Paint It Black,” but it’s classic by any measure. It’s pure Stones.
Though Ronnie Wood is pictured below, the clip (which is from 1972) features the great Mick Taylor on slide guitar. The Stones have been around forever, of course. It’s possible to argue that its salad days were when Taylor was in the band. It’s just an opinion, of course. And not a knock on Wood, who of course is a great guitarist. It’s a matter of timing (of both the band and rock overall) and everybody being at their peak.
“All Down the Line” has an interesting history, as most songs do. An acoustic version of the song was recorded in 1969 for the “Sticky Fingers” album but not used. An electric version was recorded and was the first song completed for “Exile on Main Street” three years later. It was potentially the first single off the record, but lost out to “Tumbling Dice.”
The band likes the song: Wikipedia says that it has been a staple of the live shows since it was written. Songfacts relays a story told by Andy Johns, who was the engineer. The band was unsure if “Down the Line” should be released as a single. The band, which was in Los Angeles, decided that the best way to decide was to actually hear it on a car radio. The tapes were given to a local radio station which, of course, was thrilled to have unreleased music from the Stones. They played it — apparently more than once — while the band cruised up and down Sunset Strip in a limo listening.
I’ve always been a bit cynical about The Rolling Stones, especially as they got older and the teen rebellion marketing got creepier and creepier. There is no doubt, however, that they were the best, and are the most important, rock and roll band ever (as opposed to The Beatles, which was the best and is the most important band).