Releasing a CD of Blues covers is nothing new. Sometimes the results are rather dubious and occasionally the results are a success. “Blue & Lonesome” by the Rolling Stones is the latter.
Their first new studio album in over a decade, “Blue & Lonesome” is a collection of songs that long time Blues purists would recognize, but most fugacious Blues fans may not be accustomed to. Basically, “The Thrill Is Gone” is not on here. The set harkens back to some of the Stones’ earliest recordings- think “12x5”- and even the production of this CD was done in an old-school manner.
Recorded over 3 days in December of 2015 on vintage recording equipment at Mark Knopfler’s British Grove Studios in West London, “Blue & Lonesome” features the Rolling Stones as the main ingredient- a cohesive unit playing pure and genuine Blues that is a little rough around the edges. Perfect. There are no bells and whistles. No circus animals or sideshows. And apart from Eric Clapton lending some lead guitar work to a mere 2 tracks, there are no special guests, which has become the norm in the 21st Century World of Blues. They ARE the Rolling Stones for crying out loud, they don’t need to impress anybody with a rogue’s gallery of famous friends. Nope, not the Stones, especially when they are playing the Blues.
“Blue & Lonesome” finds the Rolling Stones as a band chopped down to only the bare essential parts. Mick Jagger is the lead singer and harmonica player. He didn’t share the microphone this time around. Keith Richards and Ron Wood played electric guitars, and they played them in very much the classic Rolling Stones style: neither one really playing lead or rhythm, but both guitarists blend together to make one big monster guitar- much like most of the original Blues artists who inspired them as teenagers. Charlie Watts, as always, takes the drum throne. Bass guitar and keyboards, and the aforementioned guest appearance of Eric Clapton round out the bill.
The tracks are all excellent and include several Little Walter and Willie Dixon songs. Other highlights include Howlin’ Wolf’s “Commit a Crime”, Eddie Taylor’s “Ride ‘Em on Down” and Magic Sam’s “All of Your Love”.
In all, this is a good’un. It is sure to appeal to hardcore Blues lovers and is a great starting point for anyone who isn’t all that familiar with Blues music in general. It is well worth investigating.