Album Review: Blue & Lonesome, The Rolling Stones

Read our verdict on the Rolling Stones' hotly anticipated comeback album.

Although they remain one of the greatest live acts in the world, the famously tumultuous relationship between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards has meant the Rolling Stones have produced just one solitary album of original material (2005's underwhelming A Bigger Bang) in nearly two decades.

Their latest effort, Blue & Lonesome, is a collection of blues covers that was originally conceived as part of a two-LP package that would include one album of original material, but alas, creative agreement in the Jagger-Richards partnership remains as difficult to secure as a Middle East peace settlement.

The good news, of course, is that the Rolling Stones are past masters at electrifying blues covers – for evidence, look no further than their awesome version of Robert Johnson's 'Stop Breaking Down' from Exile On Main Street, one of the finest moments of their recorded career – and Blue & Lonesome is a record that for once merits the dreaded phrase "return to form".

The album has a notably raw sound, and tracks like 'Just A Fool', 'Commit A Crime' and 'I Gotta Go' are all exhilarating blues-rockers, filled with snarling guitars, wailing harmonica and attitudinal vocals. Keith Richards is on top form throughout, regularly letting rip with some serious guitar shredding, while Mick Jagger complements his playing nicely with energetic vocal performances.

A particular highlight is 'Everybody Knows About My Good Thing', a swampy blues number built around an irresistible rhythm, which boasts some vintage lyrics: "Call the plumber darlin' / Think I got a leak". The band get into a mellower groove on moody songs like the title track and 'All Of Your Love', before ultimately signing off with a spellbinding take on Willie Dixon's slow-burning epic 'I Can't Quit You Baby'.

It's an appropriately titled tune – as it appears none of us can kick the Stones habit either. Tremendous stuff.

 

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