Blue & Lonesome (Rolling Stones album)

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Blue & Lonesome
The Rolling Stones - Blue & Lonesome.png
Studio album by
Released2 December 2016 (2016-12-02)
Recorded11, 14–15 December 2015
Studio
Genre
Length42:36
LabelPolydor
Producer
The Rolling Stones chronology
A Bigger Bang
(2005)
Blue & Lonesome
(2016)
Singles from Blue and Lonesome
  1. "Just Your Fool"
    Released: 6 October 2016
  2. "Hate to See You Go"
    Released: 21 October 2016
  3. "Ride 'Em on Down"
    Released: 25 November 2016
    (label: UMC; cat no. 5717752)[2]

Blue & Lonesome is the 23rd British and 25th American studio album by the English rock band the Rolling Stones released on 2 December 2016. It is the band's first album to feature only cover songs, and their first studio release since 2005's A Bigger Bang, with its eleven-year gap being the longest between two albums from the band. Despite the short time length of just around 43 minutes, the album was released as a double LP. "Just Your Fool", a Buddy Johnson cover (though the Rolling Stones version is based on Little Walter's arrangement) was released as the first single from the album on 6 October.[3] The name of the album is from a song which Little Walter wrote, "Blue and Lonesome".[4]

Despite an 11-year gap between albums, the Rolling Stones kept the same basic production and musician team as A Bigger Bang. Joining vocalist Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards as producers was Don Was, who had been working with the group for most of the prior two decades. In the studio were band members Ronnie Wood (guitar) and Charlie Watts (drums), alongside contract players Darryl Jones (bass), Chuck Leavell (keyboards) and Matt Clifford (multi-instrumentalist). Eric Clapton played guitar on two tracks and drummer Jim Keltner plays percussion on another.[5]

The album was recorded during three sessions in December 2015 and sold well after its release a year later. It reached number one on the album charts in the UK and over a dozen other countries, and number four in the US. It was certified gold or platinum in several countries. The first Stones album of the streaming media age, many of the songs from the album charted on several top-40 digital music charts, and the lead single "Just Your Fool" was a top-40 hit on several airplay and genre-specific charts. The album received four- and five-star ratings from many music journalists, and accolades from jazz and blues publications. It was awarded the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album in 2018, the band's first Grammy in 23 years.

It was the final studio album to be released before the death of drummer Charlie Watts in 2021.

Background[edit]

Blue & Lonesome was recorded in just three days[6] in December 2015. In April 2016, at the launch of the Rolling Stones career retrospective Exhibitionism, the band confirmed that their new album was due to be released "some time in the autumn". Richards said the album would feature "a lot of Chicago blues".[7] Eric Clapton plays guitar on two tracks; he was recording his own album I Still Do in the same studio as the Stones were and was asked to play on a few tracks.[8] The album is entirely blues-based, consisting of covers of artists such as Howlin' Wolf and Little Walter.[9][10][11]

It is the first album since Dirty Work (1986) to not feature any guitar playing from Jagger (who instead concentrates completely on vocals and harmonica), although he is pictured in the album's booklet playing guitar during the album's sessions. It is also the first album since It's Only Rock 'n Roll (1974) to not feature a lead vocal from Richards. Likewise, it is also the first album since Dirty Work to release a lead single that was not a Jagger/Richards composition with "Just Your Fool".

Promotion[edit]

On 6 October 2016, the Rolling Stones changed their tongue and lips logo, which first appeared on their Sticky Fingers album, from red to blue.[12][13]

On 8 November 2016, the Rolling Stones released a video for "Hate to See You Go".[14]

On 25 November 2016, the Stones released a one-track limited edition electric blue 10" vinyl record of "Ride 'Em on Down" (on the UMC label) on the occasion of the Record Store Day Black Friday 2016. The track is a cover of Eddie Taylor's "Ride 'Em on Down" originally recorded by Taylor in Chicago on 5 December 1955 for the Vee-Jay Label (and released as VJ 185).[2]

On 1 December 2016, they released a video for "Ride 'Em on Down".[15] The video features actress Kristen Stewart driving through Los Angeles in a blue 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback.[16]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?7.6/10[17]
Metacritic82/100[18]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic[19]
The Daily Telegraph[20]
The Guardian[21]
The Independent[22]
NME[23]
The Observer[24]
Pitchfork6.9/10[25]
Q[26]
Rolling Stone[27]
USA Today[28]

During its first week the album moved 106,000 sales to debut at No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart, the second-highest opening sales week for an album in the UK in 2016.[29] On 3 February 2017 it was certified Platinum, for sales over 300,000 copies.[30] It also debuted at No. 4 on the US Billboard 200 with 123,000 album-equivalent units, of which 120,000 were pure album sales. It was also the No. 2 best selling album of the week in the US.[31] Despite strong initial sales, the album remains to this day the only Stones' studio album without at least a gold certification for certified sales in the USA.

Blue & Lonesome received positive reviews from critics noted at review aggregator Metacritic. It has a weighted average score of 82 out of 100, based on 21 reviews.[18] Kitty Empire from The Observer called it "a labour of love",[24] while Alexis Petridis of The Guardian said the Stones here are "more alive than they've sounded for years".[21] Robert Christgau was less impressed in Vice, saying the album is "a sodden thing – many old rockers have recorded sharper, spunkier, wiser music".[32] Greil Marcus was not impressed either, writing that "except for Mick Jagger everyone sounds bored."[33]

Accolades[edit]

The album won Album of the Year at the 2017 Jazz FM Awards. The Rolling Stones also won the Blues Artist of the Year Award at the event, held in April 2017.[34]

On January 28, 2018, Blue & Lonesome received a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album of the Year at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.[35] The award was the Stones' third Grammy of their career and their first win since the 1995 show.

Track listing[edit]

Blue & Lonesome track listing
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Just Your Fool"Little Walter2:16
2."Commit a Crime"Howlin' Wolf3:38
3."Blue and Lonesome"Little Walter3:07
4."All of Your Love"Magic Sam4:46
5."I Gotta Go"Little Walter3:26
6."Everybody Knows About My Good Thing"
  • Miles Grayson
  • Lermon Horton
4:30
7."Ride 'Em on Down"Eddie Taylor2:48
8."Hate to See You Go"Little Walter3:20
9."Hoo Doo Blues"
2:36
10."Little Rain"3:32
11."Just Like I Treat You"Willie Dixon3:24
12."I Can't Quit You Baby"Willie Dixon5:13
Total length:42:36

Personnel[edit]

Adapted from AllMusic.[36]

The Rolling Stones[edit]

Additional musicians[edit]

Production and design[edit]

  • Andy Cook – assistant engineer
  • Jason Elliott – assistant engineer
  • The Glimmer Twins – producer
  • Richard Havers – liner notes
  • Stephen Marcussen – mastering
  • Ron McMaster – mastering
  • Krish Sharma – engineer, mixer
  • Pierre de Beauport – crew chief
  • Don McAulay – drum technician
  • Anna Donarski - guitar technician
  • Derrick Stockwell – assistant engineer
  • Don Was – producer
  • Studio Fury – sleeve design and art direction

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Sales certifications for Blue & Lonesome
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[101] Gold 35,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[102] Platinum 15,000*
Belgium (BEA)[103] Platinum 30,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[104] Gold 40,000double-dagger
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[105] Gold 10,000double-dagger
France (SNEP)[106] 2× Platinum 200,000double-dagger
Germany (BVMI)[107] 3× Gold 300,000double-dagger
Italy (FIMI)[108] Gold 25,000*
Netherlands (NVPI)[109] 2× Platinum 80,000double-dagger
New Zealand (RMNZ)[110] Gold 7,500double-dagger
Poland (ZPAV)[111] Platinum 20,000double-dagger
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[112] Gold 20,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[113] Platinum 300,000double-dagger
Summaries
Worldwide 1,800,000[114]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

References[edit]

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External links[edit]