The Rolling Stones are back with a new album. Their first new album since A Bigger Bang, and that was years ago. The new album is a batch of covers from Blues Greats that were their up and coming inspiration.
Forget about the cute little story of how and why this album came together, the story line they put out sounds like a load of BS. Instead, lets just focus on what we do have.
This new album features twelve new tracks, and with these twelve tracks, two things really stand out, the first is that the musical instrumentation is trimmed down to raw basics, and the second is the curious, slight distortion applied to Mick's vocals. Aside from that, the guitars sound like what you'd expect from the stones, Charlie's drums are as tight as ever, and surprisingly Mick's harmonica play is really a lot better than what we've seen him do in the past. Here he is really inspired and gives these numbers everything he's got. The two tracks that feature Eric Clapton do not need to be called out, as his playing is uniquely his own and these two numbers with Eric are easily identifiable to anyone who gives this album a spin.
They've recorded some of these numbers before, and the curious difference between the then and now is their approach to these songs. Today the band comes across more relaxed and their performances have a more natural fluid feel.
Then there's the difference in Mick's vocals, where he definitely sounded younger before, and now is obviously older. About the only way to describe his voice from the past to his voice of today, would be to say his vocal is more matured. Although older and more matured, he does not sound bad, instead, despite the slight layer of distortion he sounds great.
The other noticeable difference between the songs today and their versions from the past probably has more to do with the times, when everyone seemed to have more abruptness in their tempo. It was part of the times and the style that was comfortable then. So, songs then definitely seem more rushed, but it wasn't just the Stones. It was everybody, it was the sixties.
The new Blue & Lonesome doesn’t really feel or sound much like the stuff the Stones made long ago, instead it's much better, and it sounds like a good 'ol band of buddies with amazing chemistry, giving a batch of old time blues numbers a Rolling Stones make-over.
The skeptic in all of us might still be wondering...is the Jagger/Richards songwriting partnership kaput, or are these guys just out of gas...running on empty? What's the real deal here?
IMO - Keith Richards has still got it, his Crosseyed Heart solo album from last year is full of good stuff.
Maybe this album will get the guys more motivated to get an album of new songs in the works, let's hope so. Until then we have this new album to enjoy.
Rate this 4 Stars
Blue & Lonesome
1. Just Your Fool (Originally written and recorded in 1960 by Little Walter)
2. Commit a Crime (Originally written and recorded in 1966 by Howlin’ Wolf - Chester Burnett)
3. Blue and Lonesome (Originally written and recorded in 1959 by Little Walter)
4. All of Your Love (Originally written and recorded in 1967 by Magic Sam - Samuel Maghett)
5. I Gotta Go (Originally written and recorded in 1955 by Little Walter)
6. Everybody Knows About My Good Thing (Originally recorded in 1971 by Little Johnny Taylor, composed by Miles Grayson & Lermon Horton)
7. Ride ‘Em On Down (Originally written and recorded in 1955 by Eddie Taylor)
8. Hate To See You Go (Originally written and recorded in 1955 by Little Walter)
9. Hoo Doo Blues (Originally recorded in 1958 by Lightnin’ Slim, composed by Otis Hicks & Jerry West)
10. Little Rain (Originally recorded in 1957 by Jimmy Reed, composed by Ewart G Abner Jr. and Jimmy Reed)
11. Just Like I Treat You (Originally written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Howlin’ Wolf in December 1961)
12. I Can’t Quit You Baby (Originally written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Otis Rush in 1956)