In A Year Of Titanic Losses In The Pop Music World, It’s Good To Know That Some Of The Great Ones Are Still Alive And Hitting The Hgh Notes
A Brief One by Doug Draper
Posted December 2nd, 2016 on Niagara At Large
(A Foreword Note from Doug Draper – Most of us know there are a number of things going on now in regional, provincial, state and national politics that have us feeling depressed, disappointed and outraged now. NAL posts lots of news and commentary on this site, addressing those things head on. But every once in a while, it is good to have a break from that stuff and do a post on something that mike make us feel a little better – like music. That’s why this post is here.)
It’s been a pretty damn depressing year – this 2016 has – for deaths in the world of music.
We lost some of the real geniuses and giants in blues, jazz, folk and rock, and all genres in between, and there can’t be much more room left up there on that stage in Rock & Roll heaven.
So it is especially good to discover that some of the great ones are still around, making records that match anything they and others have released over the past 40 or 50 years.
On that high note, if you were to tell me back in 1966, when I was grooving to ‘Paint It Black’ off the first album they released with every track on it penned by them, that I’d be going to a music store in 2016 to buy the latest new studio album by The Rolling Stones, I would never have believed it.
I mean Mick Jagger and the boys were living pretty wild lives 20 years ago, and yet here’s his bandmate and co-writer of so many of The Stones’ great songs – that medical miracle Keith Richards, God bless him, looking a hundred years old going on 110 – and the group has just released an album that rivals anything they released in their first few years, when they were covering a lot of great old blues and classic Chuck Berry-style rock songs mixed in with a few of their own, like ‘Get Off My Cloud’, ‘The Last Time’ and, their first blockbuster hit, ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction’.
The new album, released all over North America this December 2nd, is called ‘Blue & Lonesome ‘and it takes the Stones back to the band’s original roots as one inspired by the Blues music of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson and others whose electronic-driven riffs were rocking beer-soaked bars from the Mississippi Delta all the way up to Chicago in the years before and after Mick and Keith’s birth way over in England.
This new album also has the Stones delivering covers – there are 12 great coves on ‘Blue & Lonesome’ and no originals this time – of these classic Blues sounds with a passion and air of authenticity it is hard to believe the original practitioners of the music would not be proud of.
Mick’s voice, by the way, sounds as youthful and energetic as it is when he was belting out ‘Gimme Shelter’ and ‘Midnight Rambler’ in the late 1960s, and his harp playing more than rises to the occasion for a guy who said in a recent interview that if he knew he would be doing so much harmonica on the album, he would have practiced a little more.
For added pleasure, Eric Clapton plays on two of the tracks and if you were a fan of the Allman Brothers when they released one of their best-selling albums, ‘Brothers & Sisters’, Chuck Leavell, the keyboard player who was part of that band by the time and played that fabulous piano solo on ‘Jessica’, shares his immense talent on almost every track here.
I haven’t been able to keep ‘Blue & Lonesome’ off my pile of top five albums to spin since I picked it up the day of its release.
And in a year in which we have lost too many music giants, from David Bowie and Earth, Wind &Fire founder Maurice Williams to Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey, musician/songwriter extraordinaire Leon Russel, late-blooming R&B singing star Sharon Jones, pioneering rock guitarist and life-long Elvis Presley sideman Scotty Moore, one of Canada’s gifts to the world, Leonard Cohen, and so many others, it is heartening to know that some of the greats are still around, making equally great records.
Along with this release by the Stones, there were the recent really fine ones by Van Morrison, with his album ‘Keep Me Singing’ (featuring beautiful cover art to match the music, by the way), David Crosby’s ‘Lighthouse’, Paul Simon’s ‘Stranger to Stranger’, Dion’s (of Dion and the Belmonts fame) ‘New York is My Home’, Neil Young’s ‘Earth’ (a shout-out against the kind of corporate polluters & carbon energy pirates that Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump are playing footsy with), and the just released CD version of Gord Downie’s music for ‘Secret Path’, about the young indigenous boy, Chanie Wenjack, who died alone and starved 50 years ago this fall, trying to hike his way back home from one of Canada’s notorious residential schools.
There were other very good albums released this year that I won’t make this post any longer by mentioning here, but you may like to share a few words about them in the comment space below.
The most recent December issue of Rolling Stone magazine, gives ‘Blue & Lonesome’ four-and-a-half out of five stars and ranks it number seven in its list of top 25 albums of the year.
To read Rolling Stone magazine’s review of ‘Blue & Lonesome’ click on – http://www.metacritic.com/music/blue-and-lonesome/the-rolling-stones .
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