On 2nd December 2016 The Rolling Stones released their twenty-fifth studio album Blue & Lonesome. The album – their first studio release since 2005’s A Bigger Bang – is a collection of twelve blues covers paying tribute to the post-war Chicago blues that was the foundation of the band’s inception over fifty years ago.
The band say, this album was “five decades in the making and [took] just three days to record.” The speedy recording has not in anyway detrimentally impacted on the quality of the album, with The Stones arguably sounding the best they have in years. Considering they are all in their seventies (apart from Ronnie Wood who is a sprightly 69), they still sound brilliant, and this album really showcases the raw talent that led to their success.
While the majority of the songs tell tales of heartache (as the title suggests) the album is lively and uplifting, and it is difficult not to tap your feet along to Charlie Watts’ brushed snare. Jagger gives an impressive performance both vocally and on harmonica, backed up with by Keith Richards’ trademark gritty guitar.
Some may say that The Stones are not capable of / confident in writing an album of original rock songs that would go down suitably well with this generation of rock music fans and have therefore played it safe in sticking to covers of blues songs… but Blue & Lonesome has been well-received during its first week of release, especially by old-school Stones fans. Whilst doing some research for this review I discovered the following comment from a fan by the name of Dennis Elinski who wrote: “as a jaded old fan, this record isn’t just a “pleasant surprise” because it isn’t too embarrassing… it is an outstanding record for them… I really never had any hope that they would put out a record that sounded this good, ever again”.
With every new album they release and every tour they play, there is the fear that it might be their last. I am unsure if there are plans for The Stones to tour Blue & Lonesome, but I would certainly enjoy hearing them play the music that they so clearly love – perhaps in a more intimate setting than the enormous stadium shows they are used to.
The band recently released a video for opening track “Ride ‘Em On Down” featuring Kristen Stewart (who played Joan Jett in the 2010 movie The Runaways, but is more well-known for some teenage vampire movie-series that I refuse to mention) driving a Mustang and seductively dancing at a petrol station. Perhaps the use of a popular young actress was a bit of a cynical ploy to encourage younger people to embrace an album that they may not have otherwise paid much attention to, but it is an enjoyable video nevertheless – although I am not sure what the zebra is all about. You can watch the video below.
As the proud owner of all 24 of The Rolling Stones’ previous studio albums on vinyl (a rather financially-draining hobby I had a couple of years ago) I am looking forward to unwrapping my 12-inch copy of Blue & Lonesome on Christmas morning and listening to it front-to-back with my dad, who I have to thank for my love of the band.
- Just Your Fool
- Commit A Crime
- Blue And Lonesome
- All Of 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