Blue & Lonesome is the first Rolling Stones studio record to be released in ten years. And what a fantastic disc it is too. Recorded in three days at Mark Knopfler’s British Grove Studios with Don Was at the controls and artistic input from the Glimmer Twins (Mick Jagger and Keith Richards) in December 2015, it was released exactly a year later. Why the wait, I have no idea. Christmas sales maybe?
The template was go into the studio with the band and record straight down the middle a collection of Blues greats with no overdubs. So it was in this short time that Jagger, Richards, Charlie Watts, and Ronnie Wood (the official Stones) went into the studio with regular partners for recording and touring, Darryl Jones on bass since 1993, Chuck Leavell on keyboards since 1982 (now surely there is a case here to put these two up for full time membership?) and Matt Clifford (the new boy!) also on keyboards.
It is also the first Stones album (their twenty third studio album – thirty if you include albums released in the United States of America) with all cover songs, even the group’ s debut album in 1964 had the first Jagger/Richards recording on it plus two songs credited to Nanker Phelnge, which was the pseudonym used by the whole band.
But far from going for the obvious Blues standards they have delved deeply into the well for gems from Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon, Eddie Taylor, two from Howlin’ Wolf, Magic Sam, two from Little Walter, Otis Hicks, Memphis Slim, Buddy Johnson and other collaborators.
Charlie Watts thrashes away on drums as if he’s enjoying himself for the first time in years, Darryl Jones completes the rhythm section, whilst the keyboards compliment the guitars beautifully with some polished piano solos put in for good measure. Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood combine as you know they should, neither of them would technically come in the top ten of Rock’n’Roll guitarists, but together they are a mighty force.
Pulling one master stroke after another Eric Clapton happened to be in the studio when the Stones were in town and he lends electrifying solos to two songs. Now here is an artist that would list high in anybody’s top ten of all time Rock’n’Roll guitar players.
The completely revamped “I Can’t Quit You Baby”, think Led Zeppelin, then think again. The simple blues of Miles Grayson’s “Everybody Knows About My Good Thing” brought to life by a slinky Clapton solo. But the star of the show is Mick Jagger, who at whatever age you want to put him has lost none of his nuance and sauce. For the first time since 1986’s “Dirty Work”, Jagger has not insisted on playing some guitar parts, leaving it this time to the guitar slingers in the band to do their work whilst he concentrates on blowing his harp and wrapping himself up in the lyrics. It’s the perfect Mick Jagger show album.
The Rolling Stones are now back in the studio recording original material for a new album. But I for one am mighty glad that they took those three days in the studio last year to record these wonderful songs. The Rolling Stones have always had their roots in the Blues and this is a fine homecoming.
Just Your Fool
Commit A Crime
Blue and Lonesome
All Of Your Love
I Gotta Go
Everybody Knows About My Good Thing
Ride ‘Em On Down
Hate To See You Go
Hoo Doo Blues
Just Like I Treat You
I Can’t Quit You Baby
(Review written by Mott the Dog and Hells Bells)