Honoring the blues legends that came before them is no new trick for The Rolling Stones. The legendary rockers’ storied history includes Mick Jagger and Keith Richards starting out together in a band called the Blue Boys, while Ian Stewart and Charlie Watts played in Blues Incorporated, both groups playing material cribbed from Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, and the like. Their decades of mass success since came on the back of adapting those influences into what’s now become a foundational classic rock sound, but perhaps even more so than with The Beatles and other fellow British Invasion honchos, the genre from which sprung forth rock ‘n’ roll was never far behind.
It’s been over 50 years since the Boys actively identified as Blue, though all that time the group kept true to their roots. It’s unfair to say that they didn’t evolve or change, but the band that would eventually become The Rolling Stones kept a relatively tight orbit around the Chicago blues. It should come as no surprise, then, that their first record in 11 years pulls them back close to that sound, as if in their advanced age and after a long period of quiet, returning to the original well could reinvigorate the elder statesmen. And, in that sense, it does — Blue & Lonesome, a collection of blues covers, hits right in their collective sweet spot, a record as comfortable and warm for the listener as it must have been for the musicians.