Don Was (president of Bluenote Records) and The Glimmer Twins produced Blue & Lonesome, and the band recorded it over the course of only three days in December 2015 at British Grove Studios in West London, just a stone’s throw from Richmond and Eel Pie Island where the Stones started out as a young blues band playing pubs and clubs.
Their approach to the album was that it should be spontaneous and played live in the studio without overdubs. The band – Mick Jagger (vocals & harp), Keith Richards (guitar), Charlie Watts (drums), and Ronnie Wood (guitar) were joined by their long time touring sidemen Darryl Jones (bass), Chuck Leavell (keyboards) and Matt Clifford (keyboards). And, for two of the twelve tracks, by old friend Eric Clapton, who happened to be in the next studio making his own album.
Blue & Lonesome is a down & dirty Blues record of cover versions from the greats of the genre. The Rolling Stones tip their hats to their early days as a Blues band when they played the music of Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon, Eddie Taylor, Little Walter and Howlin’ Wolf — artists whose songs are featured on this album.
“This album is manifest testament to the purity of their love for making music, and the blues is, for the Stones, the fountainhead of everything they do,” says Don Was, Co-Producer of Blue & Lonesome.
Listen to Blue & Lonesome by The Rolling Stones here on Spotify…
Back To The Blues — The Best Rolling Stones Album Since Tattoo You
In his autobiography, Life, Keith Richards says Mick Jagger is his favorite Blues harmonica player. On Blue & Lonesome you get to hear exactly why he says this from the opening sounds of the first song, and throughout the record. Mick’s mouth harp skills and experienced, bluesy vocals sound as good as they ever did.
Blue & Lonesome certainly doesn’t have that raw power & Blues magic of Exile On Main Street, but that’s an unrepeatable feat. It does have, however, an urgency and love of playing real Rock & Roll and true Blues that shines through.
The Rolling Stones are obviously playing for the love of the music on this one. This isn’t some nostalgia act sentimentality, but old friends playing the music that formed their foundation and made them great together. It’s never overproduced, Classic Rock radio ready dribble.
Their last several albums have been lackluster. There are always a few gems, but nothing worth listening to frequently. Blue & Lonesome on the other hand, gets better the more you listen to it. They haven’t made a record this good since 1982’s Tattoo You!
Every song on Blue & Lonesome is powerful Blues Rock at its best — churning guitars, soulful harmonica, groovy piano, and tight bass & drums. The Rolling Stones do more with less on this record, and it’s a joy to listen to from beginning to end. They get to the core of the Blues with succinct, potent songs.
Keith Richards said that his greatest accomplishment was turning white Americans on to black American music. Blue & Lonesome clearly shows what a profound knowledge & appreciation The Rolling Stones have for Blues music. Most of the tracks are quite obscure Blues songs, many known only to true Blues fans. See the track list here…
Watch the video for The Rolling Stones’ “Ride ‘Em On Down”…