Are The Rolling Stones Back on Top?

With an almost inconceivable number of classic records to their name and a firm position as the second-most successful band in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, you’d forgive The Rolling Stones for kicking back, putting up their feet, and whiling away their retirement with a bottle of Jack or two and some old blues records. Indeed, the Glimmer Twins and compatriots have been relatively quiet ever since their world-record-shattering “A Bigger Bang” tour wound up in 2007. But this month they’re breaking their inaction with a re-release of their classic 1972 album Exile on Main St. and the premiere of a brand new documentary on the making of the album, titled Stones in Exile. This, in and of itself, isn’t shocking — many older bands pursue re-release projects as a way of generating revenue without committing to the stress and hassle of producing all new product — but what is surprising is how well these projects are tracking. The album re-release, which includes a bonus CD of 10 brand new refurbished tracks, and the documentary are shaping up to be two of the most successful Stones releases in recent memory.

The Exile on Main St. re-release, which came out on May 18th, is currently sitting at the top of the U.S. Amazon.com album chart and is number three on the U.S. iTunes album chart, meaning that the Stones could have the top album when the sales week is up. As MusicWeek reports, it’s also possible for the album to achieve a number one spot in the UK, an incredibly rare feat for an catalog release:

If the Stones do hold on to the top spot by the end of the week, Polydor and the band would have pulled off a very rare chart achievement. Although catalogue titles have topped the singles chart on numerous occasions, it is very unusual for a catalogue release to reach number one on the albums chart outside of best of sets, although it has happened before.

The Stones in Exile documentary is also poised to perform extremely well. The buzz out of Cannes, where the film will premiere this afternoon, is that the band is already lining up licensing agreements left and right. With deals for the Latin American, Brazilian, German and Israeli markets already essentially signed, the documentary is shaping up to be a smashing success.

Much of the accolades for the impending re-ascendancy of The Rolling Stones should doubtless go to Universal Music Group, which signed the Stones to a new record contract in 2008 and has rolled out a huge marketing push for these latest releases, including a week of promotion on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, a Universal owned property.

It still remains to be seen whether the projects will truly deliver commercially, but, for the moment, it looks like 2010 is shaping up to be a banner year for the iconic band.

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