Blue and Lonesome is an album of old blues covers which is pretty much what the Rolling Stones did at the start of their career. This means the band has finally come full circle in doing what they do best and that’s playing the blues. This is certainly the purest sounding Stones album since their debut. The production is rough and raw sounding. Producer Don Was keeps the hiss between songs and some background talking so you feel like you’re a fly on the wall in the studio.
I believe that these guys are making the music they love most and inspired them and once again they are inspired and it’s given them a shot of blues adrenaline. Let’s add in the longevity and consistent touring is helping them to play better than ever.
Keith Richards once said in an interview “You get the true unadulterated Mick Jagger when he’s blowing harmonica.” and does Mick blow harmonica on this album unlike he’s ever done before. I must also say Mick’s vocals for a man in his 70’s are also some of the best vocals he’s done in a long time. Keith Richards the rhythm guitar maestro and Ron Wood taking up the lead, are playing chords and notes in, out, over, under and around each other’s fingers in perfection. All the while there’s Charlie Watts keeping a steady beat with his sticks or shuffle with brushes.
The high wealth of music selections are like golden nuggets. There are four covers of Little Walter songs and they are some of the best on here including the title track and the first two singles Just Your Fool and the boogie blues Hate To See You Go.
Mick howls “You about the evilest woman… that I ever seen!” on the Howlin Wolf cover Commit A Crime along with “I’m gonna leave you woman before I commit a crime.” all the while the rest of the Stones are shuffling a backbeat to a fade out echo at the end. They take on a second Howlin Wolf cover with a playful rocking Just Like I Treat You with Watts banging away. Another rocking highlight is Ride Em’ On Down originally done by Eddie Taylor.
Magic Sam’s All Your Love is a bit slower but you can feel the emotion of the lyrics “Love baby is one thing you won’t find on the ground.” I have to say I can’t ever remember feeling a Stones album like this. Where you feel the emotional outpouring of Mick’s singing or the band’s playing or song or all of the above. Another great example of this is on the swampy blues trip of Lightin’ Slim’s Hoo Doo Blues.
Eric Clapton shows up to lay down some meaty blues solos for two songs, Everybody Knows About My Good Thing and the album closer I Can’t Quit You Baby.
By reclaiming their classic sound with an even more classic sound the Rolling Stones have now given us a new classic and the overall best album of 2016.