Keith Richards’ solo album “Crosseyed Heart” from 2015 must have shaken Mick Jagger’s deeply hidden blues pride. Could rock’s oldest millionnaires be the blues band they once were 50 years ago? Or would Richards be remembered as the only member of the Stones who’d still got it. As their same-age buddies (Bowie, Lemmy, Leon Russell, Glenn Frey, Chris Squire…) sadly disappear one after the other, urgency had to be an issue, for the Glimmer Twins, both 73 years old, their drummer Charlie Watts, who is 75, and guitarist Ronnie Wood, 69.

rolling stones 2016 photo cuba

Well, they still have the blues, let me tell you that! “Blue and Lonesome” is a strong, straight, pure and heartfelt blues album. No compromise! The real stuff. On All Of Your Love, Jagger finds the inner blues singer that we hadn’t heard for ages! He screams and yells, he sounds as great as a blues singer must sound. Hey, let’s not forget the man lost his long-time partner, designer L’Wren Scott in 2014, that has to bring the blues out of anybody, to say the least.

A bit later, on Everybody Knows About My Good Thing, Jagger delivers another strong performance, while Ride ‘Em On Down is a pure Chicago electric blues that would have made Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf proud! The album is entirely made of covers, from classic blues artists, from the Wolf himself to Magic Sam, with three tracks from Little Walter.

Richards’ and Ronnie Wood’s guitars are exquisite to listen to all through the 12 blues masterpieces delivered here. Their 6-strings sound awesome. Beautifully dirty distorted guitars could be used as a master class for aspiring blues guitar players, whatever age they are. Magnificent solos that show their virtuosity, cool riffs that show their efficiency. Charlie Watts’ drumming is impeccable too, but this isn’t too surprising as the stoical veteran has never left the jazz scene with his own big band. He always had a foot into the blues. In 2016, he was ranked 12th on Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time” list. The guy is good.

 

Bassman Darryl Jones (55, who plays with the band since 1993), pianists Matt Clifford (who plays with the Stones and Jagger’s solo material since 1985) and Chuck Leavell (64, long-time touring member of the Stones), percussionist Jim Keltner (74, who worked for years with George Harrison, John Lennon and Ry Cooder) and Jagger’s harmonica playing complete the portrait. Eric Clapton, 71, plays slide guitar on Everybody Knows About My Good Thing and lead electric guitar on the Willie Dixon classic I Can’t Quit You Baby. No unnecessary background keyboards nor singers. Just pure blues, for men, by men. This is serious stuff.

These guys really sound like they enjoy playing the blues again. But not enjoying in a festive way. No. Enjoying in the “I’m in that zone again”, nailing perfectly the blues, sincerely delivering it at every note (I Can’t Quit You Baby).

As the Wiki page of the album states: “The album was a commercial success upon release, having sold 1,652,000 units worldwide as of February 9, 2017.” It also went to #1 in weekly album charts in over 20 countries, and top 3 in 20 others!

Yep, they probably got satisfaction with this one.

rolling stones blue and lonesome

THE ROLLING STONES
Blue and Lonesome
(Polydor, 2016)

-Genre: old-school blues rock
-Recommended if you liked John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf. Yeah, its that good.

Listen and buy the album on Google Play
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Listen to videos on the band’s YouTube channel

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About The Author

Nicolas Pelletier

Mélomane invétéré et rédacteur agréé, Nicolas pratique la critique en mode olympique: il parle de tout, tout le temps, depuis 1991. Il a publié 6 000 critiques de disques et concerts dont 1100 chez emoragei magazine et 600 sur enMusique.ca, dont il a également été le rédacteur-en-chef de 2009 à 2014. Il publie “Les perles rares et grands crus de la musique” en 2013, et devient stratège numérique des radios de Bell Média en 2015, participant au lancement de la marque iHeartRadio au Canada en 2016.