In their latest album, ‘Blue and Lonesome’, Rolling Stones go back to their roots to carry forward the legacy of the Blues. It was Blues which got them together, playing at pubs and clubs, before they became notorious as the ‘bad boys’ of rock music. The album comprises covers of Blues legends like Howlin’ Wolf, Memphis Slim, Willie Dixon among others.
The music is recorded live by the core team of Mick Jagger (vocals & harp), Keith Richards (guitar), Charlie Watts (drums), and Ronnie Wood (guitar), in addition to Darryl Jones (bass), Chuck Leavell (keyboards) and Matt Clifford (keyboards). Eric Clapton joins in with his guitar on two tracks: ‘Everybody Knows About My Good Thing’ and ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby’. Mick Jagger focuses solely on playing the harmonica and vocals to maintain the authenticity of the Blues.
The album begins with ‘Just you fool’, a Buddy Johnson cover, originally popularised by harmonica player Little Walter. It is one of the four songs on the album originally by Little Walter.
It features the first of the several howling harmonica solos by Mick Jagger, a dominant characteristic of Blues music. He honks on the harmonica furiously on the cover of Little Walter’s ‘I Gotta Go’. It is a lesser-known aspect of Jagger that he is a wonderful harmonica player, something which has not been heard since the mid-60s. The title track ‘Blue and Lonesome’ is a 1949 song by Memphis Slim.
The tracks ‘Commit A Crime’, (Howlin’ Wolf), ‘Hate To See You Go’ (Little Walter), and ‘Ride ‘Em On Down’ (Eddie Taylor) are standard Chicago Blues forming the soul of the Blues corpus of the 50s and 60s. On Magic Sam’s ‘All Of Your Love’, Jagger is lovestruck and remorseful, (‘I hate to be the one/The one you left behind’). The last two tracks are Willie Dixon’s classics — ‘Just Like I Treat You’ and ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby’.