The anticipation is palpable, and suspenseful, and all of those other words we like to use. And we wanted to take our time with a record by the biggest band in the land. The Rolling Stones have been doing this for almost 54 years…… and they still do it better than most, on stage and off. True, Blue and Lonesome is a covers record, the Stones first all covers record since 1964, but it’s also a stark reminder of where the rock n roll sound was born, filtered through 60’s English youth, and a watermark point on the axis of The Rolling Stones career. Blue and Lonesome is a tremendous album, at the perfect time in the band’s career.
The record is solely a blues record and offers covers of some of the most dank and pure blues standards, from the streets of Chicago to the thick, musty air of the Mississippi Delta with deep cuts from Howlin’ Wolf, Slim Harpo, and Little Johnny Taylor. Little Walter makes several appearances, with the Stones driving his “Blue and Lonesome”, recorded in a single take and showcasing Jagger’s harmonica skills as well as the twin guitar clang of Wood and Richards. The always stoic, and always on-time, Watts keeping a pressing beat. Howlin Wolf’s “Commit A Crime” sounds excessively dirty with the sharp play of, Jaggar once again, on harmonica straddling the push of Watt’s stomp. Magic Sam’s “All of Your Love” could have been recorded in the sweatiest bar in Memphis, with the band offering a bit more grit than the original. “Hate to See You Go” and “I Can’t Quit You Baby” sound like a different band altogether.
All that to say, this is one of the better recordings the band has made in the past 25 years. And when I say they sound like a different band, I mean, this is not the same band that played “Miss You”. There is no pomp and circumstance, just four friends playing music they love without the frills. They could be the grizzled, cool uncles of their former selves on Blue and Lonesome, and hopefully they continue to keep the blues, and their youth, alive on future recordings.
Blue and Lonesome is available on vinyl here