Yesterday, I listened to The Rolling Stones first studio album (Blue and Lonesome) in ten years and its one of their finest works in a long time. A return to their Blues roots, the album, all covers, was recorded about a year ago in a three day period in London. Mick Jagger’s voice is still strong and grittier than ever and Keith and Ron’s guitars are on fire.
The album’s birth came from the band’s custom of warming up in the studio playing early Blues based tunes, the kind they loved as young kids just starting out. The album is soaked mostly in Chicago Blues with cuts written by Willie Dixon, Little Walter, Magic Sam, Memphis Slim, Jimmy Reed and others. They do not ignore the music’s Southern roots either, represented here by Otis Hicks, aka Lightin’ Slim, Hoo Doo Blues. Believe it or not, this is The Stones first all Blues album.
The three opening tracks, Just Your Fool, Commit a Crime and Blue and Lonesome set the mood and it never lets up. There is not a weak track on the album. Guest musician, Eric Clapton, plays slide guitar on Everybody Knows About My Good Thing and guitar on Hoo Doo Blues. Legendary session man, Jim Keltner was on percussion for the Hoo Doo Blues track.
There’s a sense of been there and seen all that, that only comes with age and experience. The Rolling Stones have been traveling on that road for fifty years and unlike in many of their early Blues recordings, they are not imitating their heroes. It’s their own voice. You can feel it in Mick’s voice and the band’s music.