Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Album Review: The Rolling Stones - Blue and Lonesome

The Rolling Stones have returned to their roots of 1962 and it is a fantastic and unexpected blessing for fans of the band. The Stones began as the best blues rock band ever formed and Blue and Lonesome reminds all the faithful why they were the best blues rock band ever formed. Sure, it’s a covers album, and most readers of The Guru know how I feel about covers albums, but this is THE ROLLING STONES. And on top of that it’s The Rolling Stones doing what they do best---playing the blues. Every song on Blue and Lonesome is a masterpiece; a treat for the ears. Covering the greats of yesteryear like Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, and Willie Dixon (just to name a few), The Rolling Stones pay tribute to some of their heroes and influences on an astounding record.

I will admit my bias here. The Rolling Stones are one of my favorite bands (number 4 on the all-time list), but that only means I am more critical of a new release from the group, not less. Each song on Blue and Lonesome is a short, sweet, sharp blast to the solar plexus; a reminder of how great music can be if celebrated correctly. There’s also plenty of harmonica to go around. Mick Jagger dusted off his harp skills and served a memorandum to how great a harmonica player he is. Keith and Ron’s guitar riffs hang in the air, each guitarist playing off the other in fabulous fashion. Charlie Watts and Daryl Jones keep the rhythm section tight on the drums and bass respectively. It all adds up to one of the best records ever released in the Rolling Stones long and storied career. My one lingering thought is what would this album sound like if Brian Jones were still alive and in the band? Could he have improved on the near perfection of Blue and Lonesome?

After a few spins of Blue and Lonesome you are bound to dust off your copies of early Rolling Stones records and give them a whirl as well. This record would fit into the early 62/63 era Stones with the best of them. However, the real treat, is that we get this record in 2016, close to 50 years after the Stones changed their style from the greatest blues rock band ever formed to a famous pop/rock band that took over the world. Blue and Lonesome is a return to the blues done right; loose, easy, and fun. It’s that quick and easy style that makes the record so grand. Originally intended to be warmup sessions for the next album of original material, Blue and Lonesome should have The Rolling Stones rethinking that idea. More records like this would be welcomed and well received. And while I liked A Bigger Bang, I LOVE Blue and Lonesome.

My lone complaint, and it’s a minor one, is that Keith does not have lead vocals on any songs throughout the record. This is the first Stones album without a lead vocal by Keith since Their Satanic Majesties Request in 1967. To some, they may be a welcome treat, but I’ve always liked Keith sung songs for the contrast they provide.

Overall, the Rolling Stones have provided us with an early Christmas present. I can’t think of a better gift to be had this holiday season. If Blue and Lonesome doesn’t please your musical palate, you may have to ask yourself if you are truly a Rolling Stones fan.

Ryo’s Rating: 9 (out of 10)

Track Listing
Just Your Fool
Commit a Crime
Blue and Lonesome
All Your Love
I Gotta Go
Everybody Knows About My Good Thing
Ride ‘em on Down
Hate to See You Go
Hoo Doo Blues
Little Rain
Just Like I Treat You
I Can’t Quit You Baby

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