The story behind Blue & Lonesome—the first new studio record from the Rolling Stones in over a decade—is that the band wanted to get "back to its roots." I know, bands always say that, and it always makes me roll my eyes. But in this case: Wow. The last Stones record I loved was Some Girls from 1978. This record makes me love them all over again.
The band took three days to record a dozen blues standards that they covered in their early days, plus songs they've played to work the kinks out when regrouping to record or tour—songs from legends like Howlin' Wolf and Willie Dixon. The result is raw, immediate and infused with a surprising amount of swagger and energy.
Perhaps the biggest shock is how good Mick Jagger still sounds. His voice may be a tiny bit ragged around the edges, but he belts out these tunes like a much younger man. Just listen to "I Can't Quit You Baby," in which he channels Little Walter's stylistic yips and howls. Finally, there is Jagger's harmonica playing, which is so solid you may be tempted to think he had a session man play his parts. He didn't. That's Mick. What a record. What a testament to the staying power of, arguably, the greatest rock 'n' roll band of all time.