It’s official: The Rolling Stones will put out their first studio record in over a decade on December 2nd with the release of new album Blue & Lonesome.
The 12 tracks, recorded in three days at London’s British Grove Studios, all cover songs by classic bluesmen, including Howlin’ Wolf (“Commit a Crime”), Little Walter (“I Gotta Go”) and Jimmy Reed (“Little Rain”). Eric Clapton guests on the group’s cover of Little Johnny Taylor’s “Everybody Knows About My Good Thing” and Otis Rush’s “I Can’t Quit You Baby.” The album doubles as a nod to the band’s formative years, when the band would play covers by their favorite blues artists.
Keith Richards told Rolling Stone in September that the group had been recording in London, cutting several songs in a rapid period. “It was fun – always is,” he said. At the time, he claimed the album would contain “a lot of Chicago blues.”
Later in the month, Mick Jagger posted a photo of his harmonica case and some guitar picks on Twitter, using the hashtag #PlayingThe Blues. The group also posted a teaser video, showing images of their gear in a studio with the sound of guitar strumming and a voice counting in a song.
The next day, they posted another, showing them playing a swinging blues line punctuated by some harmonica.
Co-producer Don Was revealed in an interview with the French publication Le Figaro (via Ultimate Classic Rock) that the Stones had recorded the LP live in the studio with the musicians in a circle surrounding microphones. “The record sounds very crude, very authentic,” he said. “It captures the essence of what they are.”
“This album is manifest testament to the purity of their love for making music, and the blues is, for the Stones, the fountainhead of everything they do,” Was said in a statement.
Ron Wood first discussed the group’s blues angle in an April interview with The Associated Press. “We went in to cut some new songs, which we did,” he said. “But we got on a blues streak. We cut 11 blues in two days. They are extremely great cover versions of Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter, among other blues people. But they really sound authentic. … When we heard them back after not hearing them for a couple of months, we were, ‘Who’s that? It’s you,’ It sounded so authentic.”
Was revealed that the group had recorded Little Walter’s “Blue and Lonesome” in the sessions in an April radio interview. “It was just magnificent,” he said, according to Ultimate Classic Rock. “When they play that music, they become something very true to who they are and something really unique as well.”
Blue & Lonesome Track List
1. “Just Your Fool” (Originally written and recorded in 1960 by Little Walter)
2. “Commit a Crime” (Originally written and recorded in 1966 by Howlin’ Wolf – Chester Burnett)
3. “Blue and Lonesome” (Originally written and recorded in 1959 by Little Walter)
4. “All of Your Love” (Originally written and recorded in 1967 by Magic Sam – Samuel Maghett)
5. “I Gotta Go” (Originally written and recorded in 1955 by Little Walter)
6. “Everybody Knows About My Good Thing” (Originally recorded in 1971 by Little Johnny Taylor, composed by Miles Grayson & Lermon Horton)
7. “Ride ‘Em On Down” (Originally written and recorded in 1955 by Eddie Taylor)
8. “Hate To See You Go” (Originally written and recorded in 1955 by Little Walter)
9. “Hoo Doo Blues” (Originally recorded in 1958 by Lightnin’ Slim, composed by Otis Hicks & Jerry West)
10. “Little Rain” (Originally recorded in 1957 by Jimmy Reed, composed by Ewart.G.Abner Jr. and Jimmy Reed)
11. “Just Like I Treat You” (Originally written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Howlin’ Wolf in December 1961)
12. “I Can’t Quit You Baby” (Originally written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Otis Rush in 1956)