Since the early 1960’s, the Rolling Stones have been pumping out rock and roll classics influenced heavily by the legendary blues pioneers of the 1950’s.  While The Stones have maintained their classic rock sound over the years, they also have experimented and dabbled with different sounds and genres yet still making the same type of good ole rock and roll that has made the band so beloved by so many.  Until the recent release of “Blue and Lonesome,” the band had not put out an album in eleven years.  “Blue and Lonesome” is an album of covers that sees the band getting back in touch with and playing the style of music that inspired them and helped shape their own music, -The Blues.  The Rolling Stones latest album can be characterized as a roots revival, ripe with moaning harmonica, wailing guitar and lyrics of men short on luck and full of sorrow.

 

On every track Mick Jagger shows just how well he knows the Blues, the harmonica work sounds superb and geniune while Jagger’s vocals sound as good as ever, even if you can hear his age in his voice it works well as the singer embodies the role of an old blues man perfectly.  The Stones have always played rock and roll and while some of their albums have explored different sounds and styles, “Blue and Lonesome” is their first and only straight blues record.  The deep south can be heard in every track, Keth Richards’ rock solid guitar playing does justice to the old blues masters while the presence of Jagger’s harmonica work is abundant and does a great job of rounding out a true classic blues sound.  The instrumentation is tight as are the solos, however this is an album that far different from such Stones classic as “Stick Fingers,” “Exile on Main Street” and “Let it Bleed.”  The album is no comeback album but rather a tribute to the artists the Stones admired and helped the band evolve into the group it would become.  Some of the tracks were released when the Stones had already broken through in the rock world such as Howling Wolf’s “Commit a Crime” and Magic Sam’s version of “All of Your Love” yet still all are songs of an earlier generation than present. 

 

“Blue and Lonesome” was recorded on impulse in just three days last December and the band seems to have nailed the tracks down to the bone, the soulful grit of old blues men is there while the decades long refined talent of the band’s instrumentation would make any bluesman proud.  This album shows the band’s depth while also bringing to its fans a hearty dose of blues and something different than any other of the group’s extensive catalog.  “Blue and Lonesome” is worth picking up especially if you are a blues fan, many are perhaps surprised by this latest release while very likely will be disappointed.        

Published by Ville Iso-Ahola