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The Rolling Stones – Blue & Lonesome

December 4, 2016

When most rock or pop acts go down the covers-album route, it usually means artistic bankruptcy. But not The Rolling Stones, for them it is delivering us a perfect treat: a raw blues album.

The Stones are fundamentally a blues band.  Their take on the blues has been wonderfully inaccurate, but totally authentic.  Rather than doing historically accurate blues covers, they have just been themselves: British, punk, boozy, irreverent, but in love with the blues. Being purists was not their thing, being The Rolling Stones is their thing.

The delight of this album is Mick Jagger. How at 73 his voice sounds better than it did when he was 23 is a freak show. I have witnessed a lot of front men over the years and Jagger is hands down the greatest rock front man I have ever witnessed (sorry Prince, Bruce, Paul, Bono, Roger, Robert, Freddie, etc). The key word is “is” – not was, but is.

This album features Jagger’s vocals and harp playing. The rest of the band sounds great, but what is truly special here is Jagger.  To quote someone who should know a thing or two about Jagger, Keith  Richards: “This is the best record Mick Jagger has ever made. It was just watching the guy enjoying doing what he really can do better than anybody else.”  He added “And also, the band ain’t too shabby.” Enough said.

The live in the studio album features 12 covers (the first ever Stones all covers album) of songs originally made famous by Little Walter, Jimmy Reed and Howlin’ Wolf. It was pounded out in just three days. This is a labor of love – no this is not labor, but effortless joy. This is the Stones doing what the Stones do best.  For those who wonder where their genius rock recipe came from, here is the basic ingredient: the electric Chicago blues.

The Stones are yet another example of classic rock icons who retain their brilliance 50 plus years into the game.  I hate to sound like an old fogey, but the Stones and their peers represent the golden age of rock/pop. If you need proof just listen to this album and keep in mind these senior citizens just tossed it off. Again to quote Richards: “It made itself.” To which Ronnie Woods adds after “a lifetime of research, really.”

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From → Music Reviews

3 Comments
  1. “Their take on the blues has been wonderfully inaccurate, but totally authentic. Rather than doing historically accurate blues covers, they have just been themselves: British, punk, boozy, irreverent, but in love with the blues.” Indeed. My favorite Stones song, ever, is “Midnight Rambler” (in a tie with “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking?”) which epitomizes that very thing (and is probably one of the best examples of Mick’s harmonica playing).

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