A great rock ’n’ roll album is about to get greater — or at least longer. The Rolling Stones’ 1972 classic Exile on Main Street is getting a deluxe reissue today that promises 10 unreleased recordings from the band’s Exile era. A few, like “Soul Survivor” and “Loving Cup,” are alternate takes from the Exile sessions. Others, like the gritty and soulful “Plundered My Soul,” “Dancing in the Light,” “Follow the River” and “Pass the Wine (Sophia Loren)” are never before released.

The album in its original form remains a fascinating portrait of the Stones reaching a hard-won maturity, as well as defining the most seasoned and most consistently emotionally resonant portion of their long history. Their musical vision as a British version of an American roots band with their eyes on their own times was realized, but indelibly scarred by the events of the previous few years. Since 1969 they’d seen the death of Brian Jones and Keith Richards’ own erosion by heroin. The band had endured a protracted and ugly legal battle with a manager whose goals for the Stones —uncomplicated pop stardom, cash cow ownership of their publishing rights – were far different than their own.

Reportedly thousands of dollars worth of drugs were consumed each week within the walls of the villa that Keith Richards rented as a location for the album’s initial sessions near Nice, France, and the local gendarmes knew it, complicating matters. There were times when members couldn’t get to the sessions, so different members of the band were often tracking at different times, foiling the Stones’ usually all-live-in-the-studio modus operandi for cutting basics. The two-album set was originally finished in Los Angeles, in an effort to shed the air of abandonment in France.

With all that to overcome, Exile On Main Street was more miracle than album when it was released in May 1972 and went to the top of the U.S. and U.K. pop charts. And while “Tumbling Dice” was a Top 10 hit, tunes like “Rocks Off,” “Happy,” “Rip This Joint” and “All Down the Line” (with Mick Taylor’s notable slide guitar) and a cover of Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips” helped earn the Stones their reputation as the world’s greatest meat-and-potatoes rock ’n’ roll band.

Stones fans all have their favorite eras, but connoisseurs of the kind of meaty riffs and growling sounds that are associated with Gibson guitars are particularly passionate about the May 1969 to December 1974 stretch, when Mick Taylor came from John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers to replace the late Brian Jones and, along with Richards, essayed some of the band’s most accomplished guitar playing. Often during sessions, Richards and Taylor both wielded Gibson Les Paul Standards as well as Gibson ES-335s and SGs.

During those years the Stones recorded Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile On Main Street, Goat’s Head Soup and It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll — arguably their finest albums. After Taylor – a stone Gibson Les Paul Standard man — left this group due to what he felt was a lack of respect and credit for his work, The New York Times’ chief pop critic Robert Palmer wrote that he was “the most accomplished technician who ever served as a Stone” and called him “a blues guitarist with a jazzman’s flair for melodic invention.”

All the Les Pauls Taylor used on those Stones albums were from the original run of sunbursts from 1958 to 1960, purchased at a time when they could be had at an instrument store or pawn shop for a couple hundred bucks versus the hundred-thousand-plus that good condition original ’Bursts are worth today. He got his first one in 1965 when he was in the Gods, whose claim to fame was opening up for Cream in 1967. He bought his second for the Bluesbreakers in ’67 from Richards, who he visited at London’s Olympic Studios while the Stones were working on Their Satanic Majesties Request. Richards and Taylor both used ’Bursts on stage during the tour on the heels of Exile, plus a fleet of other six-strings.

Today the Gibson Custom Shop’s brand new 50th Anniversary 1960 Les Paul Standard captures the panache and, more important, tone of those instruments.  But other Gibsons also made it into Taylor’s rack during his Stones years, including an ES-335 he used for the Exile and Sticky Fingers sessions, and an SG he took on tour from 1969 to 1971. Although Taylor still prefers a beefy Les Paul Standard, he’s also been spotted wielding Gibson Flying Vs and Firebirds as well as other models over the years – mostly run through Marshall or Ampeg amps.

The Les Paul Standard that Richards sold Taylor in ’67 was Richards’ first: a 1959 model with a Bigsby vibrato arm that Richards bought in 1964 and used on stage and in the studio for the next two years. It makes an especially strong appearance in the T.A.M.I. Show concert film from ’64. By the time of the Exile sessions Richards had acquired a ’57 Les Paul Custom that he often used for open G tuning as well as the Gibson SG he is seen playing on stage in the movie Gimme Shelter. The year after Exile was recorded, Richards began using single- and double-cutaway Gibson Les Paul Juniors including his famed TV-yellow model named “Dice,” which he still keeps in play for “Midnight Rambler” and “Out of Control.”

For the Exile On Main Street sessions, however, Richards’ favorite Gibson was a sunburst ES-335 he acquired in 1969 and used on the road extensively. It can be heard in counterpoint to Taylor on “Rocks Off” and “Tumbling Dice.” Like Taylor, Richards sticks to his guns. He continues to use several ES-335s on tour today as well as a white Gibson ES-345.