On December 2nd 2016 The Rolling Stones released “Blue & Lonesome” their first all blues recording. The band hadn’t intended to make the album but in order to loosen up in the studio they laid into the Little Walter classic that would become the title track. Over the next three days they completed eleven more tunes to finish the album and pay tribute to their earliest influences.
“Confessin’ The Blues” is a compilation of the original songs that inspired them performed by the blues artists that wrote and first recorded them. These masterpieces were handpicked in collaboration with The Rolling Stones. Included are songs from Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, and others.
Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, and Brian Jones began as high school classmates listening to the blues. Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood says “That’s how Mick and Keith first got close as well, on the train coming back from college. They noticed each other’s record collection and it was ‘Hey, you’ve got Muddy Waters, You must be a good guy, let’s form a band”. As aspiring musicians they would sit in with Alexis Koerner when he played The Marquee. When Brian Jones was offered the job to replace Koerner they were billed as The Rolling Stones, named after the Muddy Waters song.
In 1964 The Rolling Stones cut a single, a cover of Willie Dixon’s “Little Red Rooster”, made famous three years earlier by Howlin’ Wolf. The slide guitar of Brian Jones was phenomenal and the song caused thousands of young girls to scream. To this day it is the only traditional blues tune to ever hit number one in the U.K. Later that same year the Stones released their debut album and included Muddy Water’s “I Just Want To Make Love To You”. Muddy’s “I Can’t Be Satisfied” was included on their 1965 U.K. follow up but is left off this collection. On 1969’s “Let It Bleed” the Stones included Robert Johnson’s “Love In Vain”. Most of the 42 songs on this collection have been covered by them.
The Stones approach to the blues included more guitar; more rock n’ roll, and more abandonment. They were responsible for the invasion of British Blues bands that were to follow. There was subsequently a ripple effect from across the ocean that caused me to rush out and purchase their 1965 album “Out of Our Heads”.
Proceeds from the sales of this album will benefit Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven Foundation. “Confessin’ The Blues” is a musical study and a quick education. Keith Richards says it best “If you don’t know the blues…there is no point in picking up the guitar”.
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