Album Review: The Rolling Stones – Blue & Lonesome
It is only plausible that this late into their massive music lifetime, The Rolling Stones offer a detailed and stripped back covers album consisting of their most regarded Blues music influences. Blues is best served ripened, matured and fused with a nod to history. Blue & Lonesome does just this – all presented with a ferocity rooted in a deeper antiquity and noble admittance.
While they helped shape the sound of modern rock and roll, there’s no denying the influence delta blues music had on the giant band. This record then helps unearth the spiritual significances that Richards, Jagger, Watts and Wood hold dear to their stylistic impacts. Deep guitar senses transmit over a raw southern channelling in a glistening version of Howlin’ Wolf’s Commit A Crime – displaying a distorted loving both rough and dangerous. Following closely in the shadow of a lazy saloon danger is the title track, Blue & Lonesome – a raunchier and heavyset homage to Memphis Slim’s 1954 piano blues jewel. Their unique Rolling Stones playing style is definitely chopped up throughout the record, though do well in respecting the separating qualities that distinguish an amicable regard with a hardened command. Having reeled through over 50 years of touring and releasing their own music, their uniqueness takes a back seat and instead, uncovers exactly what gave them the itch to scratch so many years ago upon their initial formation – the Blues. Magic Sam’s original 1957 release All Of Your Love gets a tender reverb filled satisfaction as Keith details substantial elements of Magic’s pioneering guitar flavour. Jagger’s vocals sound interestingly refined and do more for the homage than other aspects, fusing together a slight microphone echo with a low fidelity gratuity of sorts – blasting through ounces of a grittier and cooling magnetism.
Best of all perhaps is the cigar box stomp-jam and bustling control in a version of Little Walter’s harmonica driven 1955 masterpiece Hate To See You Go. It’s when listening to this that their influence can be pegged to the most meticulous detail. From Jagger’s vocal switches and crying energy to Richard’s bouncing finger workings all made humbly mightier by a harmonious snare drum and bass guitar’s playful courtship. It screams to fans worldwide that even after 50 years of various shifts and trends that have been in one way or another shaped by the British rock icons – blues music is what they’re about and will always be about.