When I first heard the Rolling Stones were going to record an all-blues cover album, I thought yay! and then hmmm. Yay, because they originally started out as a blues band. And they have always continued playing some blues, even doing acoustic sets in their live shows. But I also said, Hmmm, because, well, I haven’t seen them in a few years. And they hadn’t really focused on blues in quite some time (first all-blues album ever) and frankly, their output hasn’t been all that spectacular.
I bought the CD anyway because, well, they’re the Stones. And lo and behold – it’s terrific! The boys are back and they brought their balls with them. This thing absolutely comes screaming out of the fucking speakers. There’s a real presence here and a really strong, authentic blues feel. Mick Jagger once said, “Why listen to us if you can listen to Slim Harpo?” Well, Slim’s not with us anymore and most of the blues greats are gone.
But the Stones are still very much with us. There’s something about the blues, in that the bands who play it just seem to get better with age. Maybe that’s not only because they just know how to play it better but maybe it’s because they’ve lived a lifetime. Even rich rockers run into some bullshit along the way.
The CD clocks in at a tidy vinyl-length 42 minutes or so, which fine. They said what they had to say and got off.
First up – a straight-up shot of Chicago blues with “Just Your Fool.” Mick does a lot of the heavy lead instrument lifting on harp on this album. Ronnie and Keith are good guitarists but they are not in the solo blues virtuoso category of, say, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimmy Page, or even their erstwhile compatriot, Mick Taylor. (Cyndi Lauper did a blues album a few years back with harmonica great Charlie Musselwhite and covered this tune):
Speaking of guitar, it just so happens that the Stones were recording in Mark Knopfler’s studio when their old mate – one Eric Clapton – popped his head into their room. They quickly invited him to join them on a couple of songs. I like Eric’s slide work on this tune, “Everybody Knows About My Good Thing.” But I think it’s Keith playing lead on this. Chuck Leavell, of course, on piano. This was an R&B hit for a guy named Little Johnny Taylor:
Let’s finish up with a cover of a Little Walter song, “I Gotta Go.” Walter is considered the guy on harp:
I’ve been doing something novel lately which is occasionally actually listening to CD’s through a stereo and a set of good speakers as opposed to headphones and or car radio. So, do that and, oh yeah, PLAY IT LOUD!