The Rolling Stones return to the blues after 50 years

They went in to record originals, but Blue & Lonesome came out first.
Matt Wardlaw

Three and a half stars

The Rolling Stones Blue & Lonesome

They’ve held court with plenty of blues legends and recorded loads of covers from the genre, but it took The Rolling Stones 50 years to release their first full-on blues album. Starting from a single take of the title track, the band knocked out 12 songs in three days—complete with a guest appearance from Eric Clapton, who just happened to be in the building and dropped in to add some Slowhand magic to two songs. According to guitarist Ronnie Wood, the Stones kept things appropriately loose; he and Keith Richards didn’t even work out their parts, instead simply looking at one another as they played.

Blue & Lonesome plays like a spontaneous surprise from a group whose every move these days seems carefully negotiated. From the opening blast of leadoff cut “Just Your Fool,” Mick Jagger keeps his harmonica close at hand, and he spits out the lyrics to “Everybody Knows About My Good Thing” with a vigor matched by the rest of the band throughout the record. One can only hope that enthusiastic vibe carries over to the album of originals the Stones put to the side to make this one.

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