In what is their first studio release in over a decade, The Rolling Stones have returned this winter to prove you can never be too old to experiment. They are, without a doubt, some of the forefathers of rock— but Blue & Lonesome sees the legendary four piece take a different approach. The album features no original music by the band, but instead a collection of eclectic covers from blues artists of days gone by. Mick Jagger has never been shy in admitting his love for the genre, but it’s another matter entirely to be able to pull it off… yet somehow, he does it with ease.
With covers of everyone from Little Walter to Memphis Slim, and Howlin’ Wolf to Willie Dixon, The Rolling Stones have done an absolute justice when putting their own spin on these songs. Many date back to the 1950’s in their original recordings, so it’s interesting to see what wonders the technology of 2016 can do for masterpieces that can stand the test of time. What is most remarkable, however, is that a group of men in their late 60’s to early 70’s can still perform with such vigour. There’s no guitar solo left off by Keith Richards or Ronnie Wood, no beat forgotten by Charlie Watts, and certainly no high note ignored by the illustrious Jagger.
‘Hoo Doo Blues’, an Otis Hicks and Jerry West cover, and ‘All Of You Love’, which was originally by Magic Sam, stick out as some of the strongest offerings on this incredible record. They are well-rounded, intricate covers, pulling in the very best of The Rolling Stones to combine with elements that made the original version of the songs pop. Despite being covers, Jagger and co. avoid creating music that is a shell of how it was first intended, instead paying homage to the artists who helped The Rolling Stones find their own sound all those years ago.
It’s virtually impossible to slate anything that a band with so many years of experience released, and Blue & Lonesome is no exception. The Rolling Stones have certainly gone in the right direction here, creating an album that is fresh, revolutionary… but unequivocally them.