howdy pop pickers
wow. barring some surprise release off of The Stone Roses, and i still half expect a release called Christmas With The Stone Roses to just appear look you see, that today would mark that which is the last day of release of interest for me this year. there have been quite a few, so no complaints.
and just what release has come about this time? in following the trend of many, if not all, of the releases that have got me off to HMV this year, it's a new recording off of a rather well known, or if you like established act. no less than The Rolling Stones, or Rolling Stones as they style themselves, or indeed Ro££ing $tone$ as they are also, also prone to styling themselves.
yep, that is indeed the window display off of HMV, resplendent as you can observe with sprinkles of shiny show on their cherished logo so as to celebrate the coming of Christmas.
what's the basics of this recording, then? well, it's called Blue & Lonesome, and it is the first new recordings off of the Rolling Stones since A Bigger Bang back in 2005. 11 years ago, blimey. new recordings but not new compositions or new songs as such. what we have here are 12 blues tunes that they have covered.
quick pause here. in passing i saw a news article with the headline "why the Rolling Stones have earned the right to be a covers band". yeah, just read that again and let it sink in. i wish anyone who dares to go up to the Stones and suggest there's any sort of question about if they have to earn anything, and hope that it does not smart too much or at least not for too long when they get their face smashed in. this is The Rolling Stones. they have earned, achieved and proved anything you could care to name.
is the record any good? if you are in a rush, then yes - Blue & Lonesome is excellent. there are at least 2, possibly 3 and maybe 4 generations of Dads out there that are just about to get this bought for them for Christmas, and that will be smart. i have every confidence that this record this year shall be for Dads what the Adele one was last year for Mums - "oh look, a record just for them since they still play records, this will do them". a "that will do" sort of present, then, but as in both cases the records have been outstanding, it is win-win all around, as the phrase win-win suggests.
at the leas, i know for a fact that one Dad in particular shall be getting it in the post......
versions of Blue & Lonesome? the standard 12 track CD comes in at £9.99. the "deluxe" edition, as you can see, comes in at £34.99, has no extra tracks and contains a 72 page book. i had no hesitation in deciding that the 16 page booklet with the standard version would tell me all i needed to know, and so between them HMV and the Stones have a penny south of a tenner off of me. (Dad don't read that last bit since it's coming as a gift, thanks).
a bit more background on the record? to be sure. it was, as has been well documented, recorded in all of three days a year ago, or if you prefer during December 2015. it would appear that the band had a bit of an itch that they wished to scratch. that itch was the blues music which they heard and were influenced by in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and the scratching was, after what can only be described as one hell of an adventure through rock and time, to pay homage to those songs. to play and sing them with the love that they struck the band with in the first instance.
the "recorded in three days" thing presents a question, then. is it a rushed, this will do release, shoved out in full on Ro££ing $tone$ cash grab mode? no. so far as i know Ronnie Wood has not had a divorce for a while now, so there's been no pressing reason to expand revenue streams. this is pure quality Rolling Stones - not the most polished release they've ever given, but all the better for it.
Sir Mick and co do, after all, highly value the brand they have created. they might indulge in excess pricing or fleecing the fans in making them buy the same stuff several times over, but the one thing they never allow to happen is a sub-par product come out featuring their name.
a rather pertinent question considering the year we have had is whether or not this record represents a coming to the end of the Rolling Stones as a recording concern. for every exceptional release of music we have had this year it feels like we have paid with the departure of one artist that we had all assumed to be immortal. whilst so far as i know the band are in good health, there is no escaping the realities of the ages which the key members have reached.
should this prove to be the last ever new recordings that the Stones make, then it's a perfect bookend to a remarkable, never ever going to be repeated recording career. it is this, at the least, in a way that, say, A Bigger Bang never was.
by no means is it an overt farewell, as was the case with Bowie and Blackstar, but there's very much a sense of it being a tacit one. it's a gang of friends playing the music that, oh so many years ago, brought them together and defined their lives. wouldn't you do that if you could?
a cynical, professional critical review of this record, i confess, would probably be that it's a bunch of musicians that messed around in a studio for fun and then simply decided to release it for the money. that's an entirely objective take. i don't get the sense of that here. this is pretty much the sort of thing fans of any band want - don't worry so much about what you think might work or believe is what you should be doing, just go with instinct and all shall fall into place.
so then yes, if you are randomly looking around for what to spend a tenner on for Dad or Grandad this Christmas, the Rolling Stones give it to you and give you a penny back too. but without hesitation, hand over as a gift with confidence or even just take an hour to sit back and enjoy yourself.
and, barring some surprise release or a record i have forgotten about, best of luck to 2017 in delivering just half of the good music we've had this year. if you could just sort of get on with doing that and less of the removal of those who make it from our world, so much the better.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!