The Rolling Stones
Blue & Lonesome
***and1/2 out of *****
Everyone from Willie Dixon to Little Walter to Buddy Johnson gets covered here as Johnson's "Just Your Fool" kicks off the disk as the band quickly rolls through the track with ease. For this disk Mick Jagger wanted to focus on his singing and his harmonica playing and the latter is on fantastically on display right from the beginning. Jagger's harmonica playing is the main highlight of this album when he digs into it and blows strong, Keith Richards has stated in the past that he thinks Mick is one of the best players of the instrument ever and Blue & Lonesome is exhibit A in defense of that statement.
On the flip side his singing is average here, nothing that approaches past flights of vocal fireworks, but there is nothing to be ashamed of either. The disk does suffer when that powerful harmonica stays away, Howlin' Wolf's "Commit a Crime" starts off as standard fair without any of the fire of the original before Jagger blows in the middle of the track.
The title track from Memphis Slim has a deep bite while "All Of Your Love" provides a slow burn to the disk as well as some fine piano work. The group gets some guitar help from Eric Clapton as he joins on "I Can't Quit You Baby" and busts out some slide playing for "Everybody Knows About My Good Thing". There is a shambling sense of adventure on tracks like "I Gotta Go" and "Ride'em On Down" but for the most part the band stays in the mid-slow tempo blues groove for songs like "Hoo Doo Blues" "Little Rain" and "Hate To See You Go"
The tracks are short, except for the closing number and the band treats them reverently. The band is not trying to do anything unique here and so the album has a sense of lightness to it, but if there is any band out their that can and should do a toss off cover album The Rolling Stones are it.
The band successfully returns to its roots and can hold its head high by shouting out their ideals while doing them justice. It is a fine record that long time fans will enjoy, connoisseurs of the blues will also get a kick out of it if you fall into either of these two categories check it out.
A solid album that isn't necessary but still a fun listen, extra full star up there for Jagger's harmonica work. Support the band, buy the album, peep some video: