Posts Tagged ‘Keith Richard’

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After being forced to postpone their ‘No Filter’ North American tour due to Mick Jagger’s heart surgery, the Rolling Stones kicked off their 2019 summer trek last night (June 21st) with a performance at Soldier Field in Chicago. 

They band had to shake off some understandable early-show rust and sound issues. Jagger even admitted that first nights are always “a little wobbly,” then proved it by forgetting to introduce longtime keyboardist Chuck Leavell, but he otherwise showed no signs that he was about to turn 75 in a month and had heart surgery two months ago. He was his usual energetic self, strutting across the stage, including the long walkway down the center and two shorter ones on the sides, throughout the entire show. The closest he came to acknowledging his health issues was saying that they loved Chicago so much that they decided to open here instead of Miami.

But the band found their groove after a stripped down mid-show set at the end of the center walkway, similar to the mini-stage on the Bridges to Babylon tour, and they finished with strong takes on “Midnight Rambler,” “Start Me Up,” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”

The set design was surprisingly stripped back. The elaborate concepts of the past ( the Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle and Voodoo Lounge sets) were replaced by four tall, rectangular video screens, with the outer ones angled to give those on the sides a better view. The only other adornment was a clear canopy over the stage, presumably in case of the rain that was expected, but never got beyond a drizzle before they took the stage. It was almost, to use a word rarely applied to the Stones, elegant. ‘Street Fighting Man’ was the first anthem for the Rolling Stones first show of the No Filter 2019 tour in Chicago.

The Rolling Stones had originally scheduled touring around the April release of their latest “Honk” compilation album. The band was forced to postpone the previously announced dates while Jagger dealt with health issues. The frontman required “minimally invasive” heart surgery, with tour plans left on hold while he recovered. At the time, Jagger expressed frustration that his medical matters had interfered with touring, saying he was “so sorry to all our fans in America & Canada with tickets. I really hate letting you down like this. I’m devastated for having to postpone the tour but I will be working very hard to be back on the road as soon as I can.”

Then, of course, there’s the discussion of new music. The Stones have not released an album of new material since 2005 (2016’s Blue & Lonesome which was a covers album). Jagger previously said he had “lots of stuff” for a new release, with Keith Richards even suggesting that a new Stones LP could come out in 2019. What affect Jagger’s medical issues have had on the creative process is anyone’s guess, but fans remain hopeful that a new album will see the light of day soon.

While the Stones may not be thinking about retiring, their sponsor believes fans should be. The Alliance for Lifetime Income, a non-profit aimed at helping people financially plan for their retirement, is the sole sponsor of the ‘No Filter’ North American tour.

In May, Jagger posted a video of himself dancing in front of a studio mirror, building fan excitement that the frontman was once again performance-ready. Indeed, just a day later the band announced their rescheduled ‘No Filter’ dates. The trek will keep the band busy through the end of August.

The Rolling Stones setlist: Chicago, 21st June 2019

Street Fighting Man (from Beggars Banquet, 1968)
Let’s Spend The Night Together (from Between the Buttons, 1967)
Tumbling Dice (from Exile on Main Street, 1972)
Sad Sad Sad (from Steel Wheels, 1989)
Ride ‘Em On Down (from Blue and Lonesome, 2016)
You Got Me Rocking (from Voodoo Lounge, 1994)
Angie (from Goats Head Soup, 1973)
You Can’t Always Get What You Want (from Let It Bleed, 1969)
Sympathy for the Devil (from Beggars Banquet, 1968)
Honky Tonk Women (single, 1969)
You Got The Silver (from Let It Bleed, 1969)
Before They Make Me Run (from Some Girls, 1978)
Miss You (from Some Girls, 1978)
Paint It Black (from Aftermath, 1966)
Midnight Rambler (from Let It Bleed, 1969)
Jumpin’ Jack Flash (single, 1968)
Brown Sugar (from Sticky Fingers, 1971)

Gimme Shelter (from Let It Bleed, 1969)
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (from Out of our Heads, 1965)

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How to stay relevant. It’s a question we all face at some point in life. Mick Jagger was thinking about staying relevant. It was 1983. Punk had come and gone. New Wave was still a thing. Electronica and the New Romantics were still fashionable. Where did a rock ‘n’ roll band like the Stones fit into the mix? Jagger was going through what Keith Richards called “Lead Vocalist Syndrome.” The point where a band’s singer thinks he/she is bigger, better, and more important than the rest of the group.

Richards had quit heroin. He was clean. After years of fucking around, Richards was back and wanted to take up his fair share of the burden  After being busted in Toronto for heroin possession, the Stones guitarist luckily avoided jail time and cleaned himself up (for the most part). With his cookies relatively un-fazed, Richards soon realized the amount of control that Mick Jagger now had over the band. But Jagger had control of the Rolling Stones and wasn’t going to give Keith an inch. A great deal of the tension during the recording of the album stemmed from the fact that Richards had emerged (to an extent) from his destructive lifestyle of the previous decade, and thus sought a more active role in the creative direction of the band.

To keep relevant, Jagger was checking out the competition. He wanted to know what Bowie was doing, what Rod Stewart was doing, what was the latest tune played on the dancefloor at Studio 54, and which bands were snapping at their heels.  Jagger and Richards had written their first song on a kitchen table. They didn’t care what other people thought or who they sounded like, it was their song—that was all that mattered. Now, the relationship between Jagger and Richards was fractious. It was falling apart. Jagger had control and he was taking the Stones where he wanted.

Yet, checking out the opposition, chasing the trends meant sometimes Jagger got it right. He was and still is a shrewd businessman—let’s not forget, he had been a student at the London School of Economics. He had also been very successful in taking the Stones in unlikely directions, like that time he pulled them into disco music with “Miss You.” But sometimes his ideas were not as popular, Jagger was always open to suggestions, always looking for something new, always wanting to be at the front of the crowd.

Undercover is the 17th British and 19th American studio album by The Rolling Stones, released in 1983. After their preceding studio album, Tattoo You (1981), which was mostly patched together from a selection of outtakes, Undercover was their first release of all new recordings in the 1980s. The making of Undercover was an arduous process, largely because Jagger and Richards’ famous mid-1980s row began during these sessions.

The lyrics on Undercover are among Jagger’s with much grisly imagery to be found in the lead single and top 10 hit “Undercover of the Night”, a rare political track about Central America, as well as “Tie You Up (The Pain of Love)” Though it’s meant as a critique of ‘80s culture, “Too Much Blood” contains the most convulsive imagery on the entire record; it’s also its highlight. Featuring another mutant disco beat from Watts and Dunbar, alongside a bed of rhythm guitars, Mick delivers a half-rap that references The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and details the horrifying true story of Issei Sagawa, a Japanese man who murdered his date, then devoured her body piece by piece. Over the oddly alluring horns and slick, reverb-ed overproduction, he yelps, “I can feel it in the air, feel it up above/Feel the tension everywhere, there’s too much blood!” (The single also featured a disturbing video, as Richards and Wood chase after Jagger with chainsaws.) It’s undoubtedly one of the strangest songs in the Stones’ catalouge, a warped look at a pop-culture landscape that’s only gotten more perverse as time drags on.

With Jagger’s attempt to incorporate contemporary trends in dance music. Musically, Undercover appears to duel between hard rock, reggae and new wave, reflecting the leadership tug of war between Jagger and Richards at the time. “Pretty Beat Up” is largely a Ronnie Wood composition, and Jagger and Richards were both reportedly reluctant to include it on the album.

Undercover continues to divide . Although it was largely praised on release, many fans came to regard it as among the Rolling Stones‘ weaker releases, a view echoed by Jagger himself in later interviews. While some critics tend to blame the then-contemporary production and eclecticism, a large part of the album was done in a hard-rock style (“She Was Hot”, “Too Tough”, “All The Way Down”, and “It Must Be Hell”), leading many to fault the generally inconsistent material.

Written and sung by Keith, “Wanna Hold You” the song takes the standard pop conceit of a poor man who can only promise his woman love, and creates a dazzling positivity, It’s a simple pop song, but it inverts the dour, blood-and-guts feeling that pervades the record, giving it a much-needed break.

Jagger had read William Burroughs’ book Cities of the Red Night. It was the book everyone was supposed to be reading. It had received, at that point, the best reviews of Burroughs’ career. Which shows weird only lasts as long as it’s something new.

Burroughs was the starting point for Jagger writing the song “Undercover of the Night” in Paris around late 1982. As he later explained in the liner notes for The Stones’ compilation Jump Back, “Undercover of the Night” was “heavily influenced by William Burroughs’ Cities Of The Red Night, a free-wheeling novel about political and sexual repression. It combines a number of different references to what was going down in Argentina and Chile.”

“Undercover of the Night” is a classic Stones’ track. A brilliant vocal, a great guitar riff, and a memorable hook. It was Jagger’s song, as Richards later recalled: “Mick had this one all mapped out, I just played on it. There were a lot more overlays on the track because there was a lot more separation in the way we were recording at the time.”

“Undercover Of The Night” was the album’s opener and first single. Listening to the fiery funk beat, it’s clear that this is mostly Jagger’s composition. Though the lyrics deal with the political corruption of South America, an important element from Jamaica drives the song: the rhythm section of Sly Dunbar and Robbie ShakespeareShakespeare replaces Bill Wyman here on bass, but his sporadic playing suits the paranoid feel. Among other percussionists, Watts’ driving backbeat is mixed with the dub-echo of Dunbar’s electronic drums, giving the track an interesting, though very period, soundscape.
When it came to making the promo for the song, the Stones approached Julien Temple who was the hip, young director with a fine resume of work with the Sex Pistols, the UK Subs (Punk Can Take It) and the promo for “Come on Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners. He had also famously directed the Pistols big screen adventure The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle. Temple soon discovered how difficult the relationship between Jagger and Richards had become:
“I wrote an extreme treatment about being in the middle of an urban revolution and dramatized the notion of Keith and Mick really not liking each other by having Keith kill Mick in the video. I never thought they would do it. Of course, they loved it. I went to Paris to meet with the band. Keith was looking particularly unhappy. He was glowering with menace and eventually said, ‘Come downstairs with me.’ My producer and I went down to the men’s room. Keith had a walking stick and suddenly he pulled it apart. The next thing I know he’s holding a swordstick to my throat. He said, ‘I want to be in the video more than I am.’ So we wrote up his part a bit more. That was Keith’s idea of collaboration!”

The promo opens on a hotel complex. American tourists are having a good time grooving to the Stones’ music while militiamen patrol the rooftops and streets. Jagger as the journalist (white knight in a Panama hat and very bad stick-on mustache) watches as Keith and his gang of masked vigilantes or maybe revolutionaries or maybe death squad or maybe just a rock ‘n’ roll group on the spur of some internal wranglings (take your pick) sneak into the hotel and kidnap one of the hotel guests or rather kidnap Mick Jagger watching Mick Jagger on TV. Journo Mick watches kidnapped Mick being spirited away by Keith and co. who all drive off in what looks like a military vehicle straight past a bunch of soldiers kicking the shit out of people down on their luck.

Journo Mick makes his way to kidnapped Mick’s hotel room where he finds a woman hiding under the bed covers (ya see what they did there?). Anyway, one thing leads to another, and journo Mick and his girl under the covers watch an execution and then go off (via the police department) to rescue kidnapped Mick. A shoot-out ensues in a candle-lit church—nothing worse than what any five-year-old could see on The A-Team—and kidnapped Mick is saved. Poor old journo Mick dies from a bullet wound.

What it’s saying, what it’s actually about, is none too clear. It’s a dilettante’s take on Burroughs and the criminal activities of government’s and hoodlums in South America. At worst, it might make a viewer go, “Wow, South America looks a fun place to have a party.” At best, it would get the kids talking about politics and shit.

Jagger has sometimes been accused of being a dilettante. Maybe. To be fair, he’s more, as Richards said in his autobiography, “a sponge” who soaks up whatever’s going on and filters it through his music. Just what every good artist does.

The subject matter of the song and its accompanying promo was a rare outing into politics for the Stones. It was over fifteen years since “Street Fighting Man” but “Undercover of the Night” chimed neatly with the edgy political songs released by bands like The Jam or specifically the Clash and their album Sandinista! from 1980, which similarly dealt with the political turmoil in Chile and Nicaragua. The promo was banned by the BBC or rather the Corporation said they weren’t going to screen it, while the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) were nervous over its perceived violence. MTV was also angsty. It’s difficult to see why the sequences of so-called “violence” caused such concern, as both the BBC and the Independent Television Channels in the UK screened far worse with war films and westerns and TV detective series at peak times. It was more likely the political content—the suggestion that America was in some way sponsoring murderous dictatorships in South America—rather than any bang-bang, shoot-shoot, made “Undercover of the Night” unpalatable. But getting “banned” kept the Stones relevant in a wholly different way.

In 1983 Mick Jagger and director Julien Temple appeared via TV link-up on The Tube to promote the single and defend the video’s politics and violence. They were interviewed by a young presenter called Muriel Gray.

The Rolling Stones ‘On Air’, a selection of BBC recordings from the 1960’s which offer a unique insight into the formative days of the band.
This is the Stones where it all started, playing the music they loved so much – Blues, R&B and even Country. These four years of radio studio recordings mirror The Rolling Stones live shows across the UK and the world, and mark the band’s rise to global stardom. On Air features recordings of the band on a number of BBC radio programs including Saturday Club, Top Gear, Rhythm and Blues and The Joe Loss Pop Show
Every track has gone through an extensive process called ‘Audio Source Separation’ at Abbey Road. This is a revolutionary approach to restoring older recordings and you will be able to hear the remarkable difference this makes to each song, whilst keeping the authenticity of the time.

One of the highlights of the album, titled On Air, is a version of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” that the band recorded on September 18th, 1965, for the program Saturday Club – mere months after the single came out.

The track kicks off with Keith Richards‘ iconic fuzzy guitar riff and showcases a looser groove than the studio version, as Mick Jagger plays around with crooning and shouting the song’s verses. The song also ends abruptly – the way the band would have to have done it live – rather than fading out as it does on the studio recording.

Elsewhere on the compilation, which features recordings the band made between 1963 and 1965, the band performs many more of their early singles, including “Come On,” “The Last Time” and the Lennon and McCartney–penned “I Wanna Be Your Man,” as well as a spate of Chuck Berry covers. Among the selections are eight songs the group never released commercially, and several of the tracks were debuts – performances before the official studio versions came out.

‘Come On’ is taken from The Rolling Stones forthcoming album ‘On Air’ – a collection of classics, covers and previously unreleased recordings from the bands formative years – all recorded live from the BBC. ‘On Air’ is due for release on December 1st, early copies on Yellow Vinyl.

The Bridges to Babylon Tour

According to Mick Jagger, “The title came from looking at the stage. Because it was going to be the name of the tour as well as the record—it all had to fit together. We were looking at the stage one day and trying to find where we were with it. What does this design say to us? I came up with the ‘Bridges’ idea and a friend of mine came up with the Babylon thing. The bridge to the B-stage worked perfectly most nights, except when it was too cold or too hot, and then it had to be sort of manually got together. It was always my worry that it wasn’t gonna actually open.”

The Bridges To Babylon tour was announced in a press conference held underneath the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City and began on 9th September 1997 with a warm up show in Toronto, Canada, followed by another at The Double Door In Chicago. It officially began on 23rd September at Chicago’s Soldier Field followed by 55 more shows in North America, nine shows in South America, six shows in Japan and thirty-seven shows in Europe.

The production was designed by Mark Fisher, Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger and Patrick Woodroffe and opened with a circular central screen exploding with fireworks, from which guitarist Keith Richards emerged playing the riff to “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”.

This was the first tour on which the B-stage featured at almost every gig; the stage design included a 46 m (150 ft) long telescoping cantilever bridge that extended from the main stage to a ‘B’ stage in the centre of the stadiums. The only issue according to Keith was the fact that out door shows had the unpredictability of the weather to contend with.

“There’s another guy that joins the band on outdoor stages: God. Either he’s benign or he can come at you with wind from the wrong direction and the sound is swept out of the park. The weather normally comes good around show time… but not always.’ Keith

Keith also pointed out that, “The bigger shows are harder to play, even though that’s what we do most of the time, because we are so locked into lighting systems and computers: the more constructed you have to be, because of the size of the operation. When we play on the B-stage or at a club venue, for us it’s just like coming back home—sweating it up a bit.”

Babylon oslo

All in all this was another massive step forward in terms of the number of people who came watched The Stones perform: 4.8 million at 108 shows in 25 countries.

It concluded on 19th September 1998 in Istanbul, Turkey. Five shows were cancelled (in Marseilles, Paris, Lyon, Bilbao and Gijón), and five more were postponed (in Italy, Ireland and Great Britain).

As the ’90s wore on, Jagger became concerned with keeping the Rolling Stones fresh. That led directly to some of the dated experimentation on Bridges to Babylon, released on September. 23rd, 1997.

“There is a great danger when you’ve done all these albums … that you think you know how to make a record,” Jagger said in 1997. “Someone writes a song and there is something in the song that you recognize: ‘Oh, I know what that is. I’ll get my slide guitar.’ I don’t want to do that first thing that comes to mind.”

Over-worried about sounding too much like themselves after succumbing to a kind of easy classicism on 1994’s Voodoo Lounge, the Rolling Stones ended up going too far the other way. That meant bringing in then-hip producers John King and Mike Simpson. Known professionally as the Dust Brothers, they’d most recently been working with Beck.

“Anybody Seen My Baby,” the lead-off single, was doomed to parody by their decision to include a sample of Biz Markie‘s 1986 track “One Two.” Deep cuts like “Might as Well Get Juiced” suffered too, as its generically electronic backing track felt somehow both relentless and largely without detail. Hiding somewhere within this tune is something that could have harkened back to the edgy smack-laced danger of 1972’s Exile on Main St. The loop-driven “Saint of Me,” written in tribute to their late long-time sideman Billy Preston, suffers a similar fate. It’s a pretty good Stones song lost in a maze of studio tricks.

Jagger even brought in the sleek R&B producer Babyface to work on “Already Over Me” at one point, before discarding the tapes. “It’s full of fance – that’s funk and dance put together,” guitarist Ron Wood enthused in a 1997 . Fans were less enthusiastic, as the album became the Rolling Stones’ first ever – including 1986’s lightly regarded Dirty Work – to finish outside the U.K. Top 5. Bridges to Babylon ended up selling a million copies, but that was far less than the multi-platinum sales of their two most recent studio projects.

You could hardly blame Keith Richards. Favoring an abandoned back-to-basics approach, he ended up contributing some of his strongest material, and simply stayed well away from the more modernized stuff. Waddy Wachtel, the ace Los Angeles session guitarist, sat in on “Anybody Seen My Baby,” which was rumored to have been about actress Mary Badham of To Kill a Mockingbird fame. Richards doesn’t even appear on “Saint of Me.”

He claimed there were no hard feelings, despite early reports of tensions in the studio. “You always have to deal with other people’s preconceptions of what their version of the Stones is – and we can’t be everything to everybody,” said Richards “All we can do is be true to ourselves as much as possible, and say, ‘This is us now, take it or leave it.’”

Richards collaborated exclusively with stalwart Stones producer Don Was on the reggae-inflected “You Don’t Have to Mean It,” the soul-drenched “Thief in the Night” and his devastatingly sad album-closing “How Can I Stop.” All of them would have sounded more at home on one of Richard’s then-recent solo projects, For his part, Richards argued that while Bridges to Babylon may not have always worked, it had at least been interesting.

Love You Live

Here’s where it all started falling apart for the group. Culled from the Rolling Stones’ soul-draining 1975-76 tour, along with a pair of club shows in Toronto from 1977 (right after Keith Richards‘ famous bust), ‘Love You Live’ is a mess at times. Nobody could agree on the track listing, the performances are sometimes languid at best and not one Stone seems to be having a good time. It’s no surprise that many of the songs were later overdubbed to make it palatable to fans’ ears.

It wasn’t a surprise that the Rolling Stones were in Toronto in the winter of 1977. The Royal Mounted Police had alerted the world to the band’s Canadian presence due to one of the biggest drug busts in rock history.

In late February, Stones guitarist Keith Richard was found with an large amount of heroin and cocaine in his possession. The incident made international news because Richards was initially charged with trafficking (due to the large amounts) and there was a possibility that the rock star could be headed for a long jail sentence.

The other Stones, who had already been in Toronto practicing, were less than thrilled. Not just for the obvious reasons, but because Richards has potentially blown their cover. Months earlier, frontman Jagger and his manager Peter Rudge had set up a pair of secret Stones shows at the city’s El Mocambo Club with the idea of using some of the live recordings for a forthcoming concert album.

Secrecy was paramount because the upper level at the El Mo (as it’s known) only can contain about 300 people. If the Stones’ cover got blown, the shows would quickly become a media circus – especially with what was going on with Richards. The El Mocambo’s booker, Dave Bluestein, came up with a misdirection. He would schedule Montreal’s April Wine to play March 4th and 5th at the club.

“We had natural cover,” Bluestein said, “because if anything got out, we could say, ‘No, look, April Wine is playing. That’s the gig.’

April Wine was billed along with an unknown band, called the Cockroaches. Of course, in reality, the Canadian rockers were set to open for the biggest band in the world.

In order to ensure that the gigs were attended by friendly crowds, Roman devised a radio contest in which Stones fans could enter to see April Wine. He and Stones members handpicked the winners, who were told of the actual plan while on the bus en route to the gig. The guests entered through the back of the club to cut down on any chance hysteria.

That night, after April Wine’s opening set, the Rolling Stones took the El Mocambo stage, the arena-rocking band’s first club show in 14 years. Richards remembers being thankful for having something positive to do, after all of his legal and media woes.

“The minute I got onstage, it felt just like another Sunday gig at the Crawdaddy,” Richards recalled. “It immediately felt the same… It was one of those weird things in Toronto. Everybody’s going around talking doom and disaster, and we’re up onstage at the El Mocambo and we never felt better. I mean, we sounded great.”

Ronnie Wood then a relatively recent edition to the Stones, has claimed he had a major influence on the setlists for the two El Mocambo concerts. The band’s other guitarist was able to convince Mick and the boys to include some of the group’s earlier, bluesy material.

“Yeah, it was a good time of development for me,” Wood said. “I made them play ‘Come On’ [the Stones actually didn’t play this], ‘Little Red Rooster,’ all those blues standars. Right from the first song I felt very pleased at the fact that no one said, ‘Oh, we can’t do that one, it’s too old.’ Everyone just went straight into them.”

Although Woody is mistaken about Chuck Berry’s “Come On,” they did play his “Around and Around,” as well as Muddy Waters’s “Mannish Boy” and Bo Diddley’s “Crackin’ Up.” Although the Stones performed plenty of their self-written tunes, from “Honky Tonk Women” to “Hand of Fate” to “Brown Sugar,” the blues and R&B covers must have stood out. It was those songs that eventually ended up on a Stones live album.

In fact, when Love You Live (the band’s third live album) came out on September. 23rd, 1977, side 3 of the double LP set was composed solely of covers recorded at the El Mocambo. Well, they were mostly recorded there. Story goes that both Wood and Richards overdubbed guitar parts and backing vocals while Jagger redid the harmonica part for “Mannish Boy.” Only “Around and Around” went untouched.

It’s not sure if the same can be said for Canada’s then-first lady Margaret Trudeau, who was separated from Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. She caused a media furor when she was spotted with Jagger in the days before and after the shows (though she was officially Ronnie’s guest at the gigs). When the news of the potential fling reached her estranged husband, he reportedly said, “I hope that she doesn’t start to see the Beatles .”

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The Rolling Stones are working on a blues-themed studio album, and we know for sure that Eric Clapton will be making a guest appearance on the disc.

Clapton “dropped by for a couple of numbers,” Richards told BBC 6 Music, adding that the recording sessions were lke “like old times down in Richmond.”No, he’s not talking about Richmond, Virginia; he means the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond, Surrey, England, where the Stones and Clapton’s old band, the Yardbirds, used to perform in the early to mid-Sixties.

The Rolling Stones confirmed that they were working on a new album at the launch of Exhibitionism, a career retrospective at London’s Saatchi Gallery, earlier this year. The sessions have included new material and several blues covers, including tunes by Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter. Richards said the album would include “lots of Chicago blues” and would be released sometime “in the autumn.”

The Stones have circled back to the blues, with “Blue & Lonesome”, a (mostly) live-in-the-studio collection of 12 songs originally performed by the likes of Little Walter, Jimmy Reed and, again, Howlin’ Wolf. It’s the first Rolling Stones album to have zero Jagger-Richards originals; even their debut had a couple of attempts at songwriting. Recording Blue & Lonesome was easy – it took all of three days. “It made itself,” says Richards. As Ronnie Wood points out, however, it’s also the product of “a lifetime’s research, really.”

The freakiest thing about “Blue & Lonesome” is the extent to which Jagger and Richards agree on it. both are genuinely excited about the roots revival. The project might, from the outside, seem more like a Richards thing, the kind of retro move he’d favor, while Jagger The frontman says the stereotype isn’t all wrong, but that in this case, “we were all equally into it. I was as into it as anyone.”

“This is the best record Mick Jagger has ever made,” says Richards, always a fan of Jagger’s emotive harmonica playing, which flourishes on the new LP. “It was just watching the guy enjoying doing what he really can do better than anybody else.” He pauses. “And also, the band ain’t too shabby.”

Even after their early flurry of covers subsided, the Stones have never stopped playing old blues tunes, both onstage and, especially, in rehearsals. The 200 hours of Exile on Main Street sessions, for instance, were punctuated by repeated attempts at covers, meant to clear the air between the midwifing of new songs. Two of them  Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips” and Robert Johnson’s “Stop Breakin’ Down Blues” – made the 1972 album.

Jagger is finally ready to concede that the Rolling Stones have something to add to this music. “The thing about the blues,” he says, “is it changes in very small increments. People reinterpret what they know – Elmore James reinterpreted Robert Johnson licks, as did Muddy Waters. So I’m not saying we’re making the jumps that they made, but we can’t help but reinterpret these songs.

This past December, the Rolling Stones gathered in Mark Knopfler’s British Grove Studios in West London to begin work on a batch of original songs. Jagger is deliberately vague on the nature of those tunes. “I hope it’s gonna be a very eclectic album,” he says. “I hope some of it’s gonna be recognizable Stones and some of it’s gonna be some Stones you never heard before, maybe.”

Knopfler’s studio is gorgeous, equipped with an ideal mix of vintage and modern equipment, with high ceilings and gleaming blond-wood floors. It was also a totally alien environment for the Stones. says Richards. “I know that recording new music in a room they’re not familiar with, there’s sometimes going to be weeks before the room breaks in.” So Richards told fellow Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood to learn Little Walter’s apocalyptically mournful 1965 B side “Blue and Lonesome” as a potential icebreaker (Wood remembers this suggestion coming in by fax, well before the sessions).

By the second day at British Grove, Richards felt his prediction coming true. “The room is fighting me,” he recalls thinking. “It’s fighting the band. The sound is not coming.” He suggested “Blue and Lonesome,” Jagger dug up a harmonica in the right key, and the band barreled through two quick takes. “Suddenly,” says Richards, “the room is obeying and there’s something happening – a sound is happening and it was so good.”

One of those two takes ended up on the album, and it’s extraordinary, with Wood playing frantic lead; Richards hitting huge, doom-y chords; Watts nailing the original track’s regally restrained drum part; and Jagger digging deep on his harp when he’s not delivering one of the least-mannered vocals of his career. “Baby, please, come back to me,” he pleads. Afterwards, Jagger – who says he had already been pondering a Stones blues album – surprised everyone by calling for more covers. That night, he went to his MP3 collection, returning the next day with more song ideas.

And in keeping with the serendipity of the endeavor, a special guest showed up. On the first day, Eric Clapton happened to be mixing an album of his own at British Grove when he poked his head into the Stones‘ live room. The guitarist, who had seen the Rolling Stones playing blues gigs when he was still in his teens, was taken aback. “Eric walked in, and he had the same reaction that any fan would have,” says Was. “He was just gobsmacked at being that close to something that iconic and powerful. There was this great look on his face.” They asked Clapton to jam on two songs, and he ended up picking up one of Richards‘ guitars, a semihollow Gibson, instead of the Strats he’s mostly played post-1970 – which helped him reclaim the fat tone of his Bluesbreakers days: You can hear the band applauding him at the end of “I Can’t Quit You Baby.”

It all happened so quickly and naturally that the band never really discussed what it was doing, or even acknowledged it was making an album. “I didn’t even have time to change my guitar,” says Wood. “They were coming so thick and fast. It was like, ‘OK, let’s do it – this one, that one.’ Some of the harder riffs were making my fingers bleed, and Mick was going, ‘Come, let’s do it again, then!’ And we’ll go, ‘Hang on! My fingers!’ It was real hard work, but I love it.”

For Jagger, it was a chance to indulge his blues-harp habit, a subject that arouses an incongruously geeky enthusiasm in him. “If I had known I was gonna have to do this,” he says, “I would have spent a few days practicing, because sometimes I do that, sit at home and play. It’s quite easy, really; I mean, you just put on whatever, a whole bunch of Muddy Waters records.” (Muddy “Mississippi” Waters – Live, a 1979 LP featuring Johnny Winter, is one of Jagger’s favorites for this purpose.)

Jagger’s vocals are also striking in their authority. The camp he once brought to the genre is gone, replaced by something darker and deeper, perhaps reflecting the weight of real-life losses. “You can put yourselves inside the songs as a 70-year-old,” says Was, “in a way that you couldn’t when you were 21, because you hadn’t experienced the stuff.”

“On some of these, I sound quite old,” Jagger counters, “and on some of them, I don’t. Some of it sounds like when I was in my twenties doing this stuff. I didn’t really mean it to sound like that. I was supposed to be more mature!”

In October, as the Stones stepped onto the Desert Trip stage in Indio, California, some thoughts crossed Mick Jagger’s mind. “It was 30 meters wider than our normal stage,” says Jagger, “which is quite wide, by the way, which I usually run. And I heard that nobody else went out there, apart from me.

Though Jagger blames the dusty field for a recent bout of laryngitis – and he originally questioned the idea of a festival of “old, over-70 white English people playing all the same music” – the band had a good time at Desert Trip, treating it as a sort of boomer-rock class reunion.

The Stones are discussing more shows next year, and they really do intend to work on that album of originals. “There’s about 10 or 12 new songs that Mick actually has been cooking up,” says Wood, “and Keith’s got the odd one, too.” Richards suggests that at least some of the songs might be unfinished compositions that date back 15 years or more. Keith Richards is trying to persuade them to do some recording, which may be a stretch. Jagger is positive they’ll finish that album, “but I don’t know when, because you want it to be really good and everything.”

At 75, Watts is the oldest band member, and also happens to have the most physically demanding job. Understandably, he struggles with back pain, according to Wood. It’s unclear what the Rolling Stones would do without him, and that’s a prospect Richards refuses to contemplate. “Charlie Watts will never die or retire,” Richards says. “I forbid him to.” Richards knows exactly how he’d like to go, and he’s sure that doctors will want to have “a good look at the liver” when he does. “I’d like to croak magnificently,” he says, savoring the prospect. “Onstage.”

Blue & Lonesome sees the Rolling Stones tipping their hats to their early days as a blues band when they played the music of Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon, Eddie Taylor, Little Walter and Howlin’ Wolf – artists whose songs are featured on this album.

The tracks are – ‘Just Your Fool’, ‘Commit A Crime’, ‘Blue And Lonesome’, ‘All Of Your Love’, ‘I Gotta Go’, ‘Everybody Knows About My Good Thing’, ‘Ride ‘Em On Down’, ‘Hate To See You Go’, ‘Hoo Doo Blues’, ‘Little Rain’, ‘Just Like I Treat You’, ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby’.

thanks to Rolling Stone magazine.

The Rolling Stones guitarist’s first studio album outside his day job in 23 years opens with the short title fragment: Richards picking and singing a rare acoustic blues. It is rock’s most enduring outlaw evoking the Delta ghosts and early-country spirits that still haunt and inspire his life and band – and a perfect entry into a record that is at once loud, ragged delight, driven by Richards‘ trademark barbed-treble riffs, and shot through with a surprising, reflective urgency. “They laid it on thick/They couldn’t make it stick,” Richards sings with gravelly defiance in “Nothing on Me.” The guitarist also concedes the mounting price of age in “Amnesia,” a song about fading strength and memories. Keith Richards made Crosseyed Heart with reliable old friends including his late-Eighties side crew the X-Pensive Winos, singer Aaron Neville and the Stones’ late saxophonist Bobby Keys, whose robust playing, among his last on record, underscores Richards‘ admission here that there is an end to every ride – and his determination to make every mile count. –

720x405 17. Keith Richards Crosseyed Heart

Keith Richards took time out from promoting his new Crosseyed Heart LP to help support a good cause last night, appearing onstage at the Apollo Theater to play at this year’s A Great Night in Harlem benefit concert and pay tribute to vocalist Merry Clayton with a performance of the Rolling Stones classic “Gimme Shelter.”

Richards’ appearance, which starts with the guitarist strolling out onstage after a standing ovation for Clayton, who recently revealed she underwent a double amputation after sustaining serious injuries in a car accident in 2014. “Now you know how many friends you got, honey,” said Richards, telling the audience he wanted to “kick it off with the one we worked together on.”

Clayton’s vocals on “Gimme Shelter” — which she recorded after being awoken in the middle of the night and then added a crucial component to the song, and also remains a highlight of a distinguished career that she’s vowed to continue in spite of her injury. Although not present at the event, Clayton appeared on video to accept the first annual Clark and Gwen Terry Courage Award from the Jazz Foundation of America.

Richards, who went on to play the Rolling Stones song “Happy”  was just one member of a bill assembled to also honor jazz pioneer Sonny Rollins, who received a lifetime achievement award at the show, and was on hand to witness performances from Steely Dan‘s Donald Fagen and a host of jazz greats who paid tribute to Rollins’ classic discography while helping raise funds for medical care and other forms of assistance going to jazz and blues musicians in need. Richards closed out the evening with a tribute to Clayton,  A standing ovation for Clayton preceded Richards’ appearance. “Now you know how many friends you got, honey,” the guitarist said as he took the stage. Backing Richards was his trusty longtime band, the X-Pensive Winos, featuring guitarist Waddy Wachtel, keyboardist Ivan Neville, bassist Willie Weeks and drummer Steve Jordan (also the night’s musical director), along with vocalists Sarah Dash (of LaBelle), and longtime Stones backup singers Lisa Fischer and Bernard Fowler.

Keith Richard has been a tear lately, turning up all over the place in support of his new solo album, “Crosseyed Heart.

Ahead of the highly anticipated reissue of  the 1971′s album  “Sticky Fingers”, The Rolling Stones have released a previously unheard acoustic version of  the song “Wild Horses.” 

The song is one of the most beloved in the Rolling Stones’ canon, and an indispensable document of classic rock and roll. The new remaster and arrangement puts it in a whole new context: Now it’s even more tender, emotionally bare and Mick’s vocals are given a new clarity and intimacy.

More poignantly, the song takes on an even more haunted feeling, given that it comes in the wake of the deaths of both Jagger’s girlfriend L’Wren Scott and the band’s longtime saxophonist Bobby Keys.

“For three days in December 1969, the Rolling Stones stopped into Muscle Shoals studios in Alabama and managed to lay down three songs, one of which was ‘Wild Horses,’” writes Jim Beviglia in our Behind The Song feature. “The composition of this plaintive ballad was begun by Keith Richards, whose first child was born in August 1969, causing Keith regret about going out on the road and leaving the boy behind.”

“It was one of those magical moments when things come together,” Richards wrote in his 2010 autobiography Life about the song’s genesis. “It’s like ‘Satisfaction.’ You just dream it, and suddenly it’s all in your hands. Once you’ve got the vision in your mind of wild horses, I mean, what’s the next phrase you’re going to use? It’s got to be couldn’t drag me away.” The album is out May 26th.

sticky fingers