Stones' new album rekindles blues love affair
By James Pheby
November 29, 2016, 12:16 am TWN
LONDON--Eleven years after their last studio album, the forever Rolling Stones are back once again with "Blue and Lonesome," a tribute to the blues legends who forged the band's soul.
"This album is a homage to our favorites, people that kicked us off in playing music, that was the reason we started a band," charismatic frontman Mick Jagger recently told The New York Times newspaper.
"We were proselytizers of blues music; that's what we're still doing."
It is the band's first album to feature only cover songs, drawn exclusively from the 1950s blues scene of Chicago, where musicians from the blues' southern heartland had settled seeking work.
The city's amplified sound marked a departure from the acoustic blues still popular in the American south, and paved the way for the rock 'n' roll revolution.
Mississippi-born Muddy Waters was the scene's godfather, and his song "Rollin' Stone" gave Jagger's band its name.
Songs by Little Walter, Eddie Taylor, Howlin' Wolf, Magic Sam, Jimmy Reed and Willie Dixon all feature on the record, to be released on Friday.
Completing the full circle, the band recorded the album at the British Grove Studios, close to the west London pubs where they honed their all-conquering sound in the early 1960s.
However, the band hadn't intended their 23rd studio release to be a covers record.
"We cut quite a few new songs," said Jagger of the recording process, which took place last December.
"One day we got fed up doing this (new) song so we did one blues, then another, then another. I said 'OK, let's come back tomorrow and do three or four more.'"
Guitarist Keith Richards, who had recently released a blues-inspired solo album "Crosseyed Heart," said he started the ball rolling by getting the band to play the Little Walter track "Blue and Lonesome."
"As we played that song, it came out very well," he told The New York Times.
"Then suddenly Mick says: 'Let's do Howlin' Wolf.' It just took off. After that, you couldn't stop Mick. 'Cool', I said. 'Let's keep rolling, boys.' In a way, it was a total accident."