Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 120

HIT LIST

Keith Richards

R E V I E W S

Ron Wood

ROLLING IN
THE BLUES
M

ick Jagger's famous 1968
statement - "What's the
point in listening to us
doing 'I'm A King Bee' when you
can hear Slim Harpo do it?" - has
been a (sometimes) credo for the
Rolling Stones. Why indeed? Except for the fact that the Stones
have time and again proven they
can indeed play the blues, and
especially Slim Harpo, as on their
stellar Exile on Main St. cover of
his "Shake Your Hips."
Now, the Stones are back
and with an all-blues outing, Blue & Lonesome.

It's the band's first album
in 11 years, since 2005's A
Bigger Bang. And it took just
three days to cut - simply
because it's the music that runs
through the Stones' veins.
Proof of that, as any rock
and roller knows, lies in the
band's very name, which
was borrowed of course
from Muddy Waters' 1950
tune "Rollin' Stone."
But the proof's also in the
fact that as the band regrouped
in December 2015 at Mark
Knopfler's British Grove Studios

VINTAGE GUITAR

The Rolling Stones
Blue & Lonesome

in Chiswick, West London
to start work on an album
of originals, Keith Richards
advised Ronnie Wood to learn
Little Walter's 1965 B side
"Blue And Lonesome" as a
warmup song. That tune led
to other blues tracks and soon
became the title tune here.
Shooting from those shak-

120

March 2017

ing hips was the name of the
game. The Stones rolled out
other songs from Howlin' Wolf
("Commit A Crime"), Jimmy
Reed ("Little Rain"), Little Johnny
Taylor ("Everybody Knows About
My Good Thing"), and more.
And the Stones rarely have
sounded as laid back and natural.
Richards and Wood play with
established authority while
Jagger's vocals - and especially
his harp - are pure, unadulterated power. The sound is grand:
lowdown, overdriven guitar,
a heavy gutbucket backbeat,
and that wailing harmonica.
Jagger has often come
across as a tad bit campy while
singing the blues (as well as
country tunes, of course). But
on this collection, he sings with
conviction. And he nails it.
As part of the serendipity at
play in the studio, Eric Clapton
happened to be also mixing
down an album at British Grove
and stepped in one day to jam on
two tunes. He borrowed one of
Richards' semi-hollow Gibsons
and plays Willie Dixon/Otis
Rush's "I Can't Quit You Baby,"
evoking the classic "woman
tone" of his Blues Breaker days.
You can even hear the Stones
applaud him at the track's end.
This is mostly Chicago-style
blues - that dark tone, the
bouncing rhythm guitar line, the
soulful harp. Muddy and Wolf
would be proud. The Stones
even take big-band leader Buddy
Johnson's "Just A Fool" and
re-create it as if it was a request
on a beer-drenched Saturday
night at the old Southside
Checkerboard Lounge.
The Stones don't break any
new ground here. There may not
be any instant Stones classic like
their cover of "Shake Your Hips"
or Robert Johnson's "Love In
Vain" from Let It Bleed. And blues
purists might purse their lips.
But if you're a Stones fan at
all - and who, deep down, is
not - you're going to be very
happy. - Michael Dregni


https://youtu.be/lrIjMzBr-ck?list=PL53533538AA730B62 http://www.vintageguitar.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 3
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