By Robyn Collins
The Rolling Stones ran into some obstacles when they started working on new songs for the follow-up to their 2005 album A Bigger Bang, says Don Was, the producer of their upcoming record Blue & Lonesome.
“We’d gone in the studio to start cutting some new songs,” says Was, who has worked with the Stones since 1994. “Around day three we just hit a wall… and Keith suggested that, to cleanse the creative palette, we play ‘Blue and Lonesome,’ the Little Walter song. Fortunately we ran the tape and it was just awesome.”
The process was so inspiring that the band continued on the same path. “The whole mood of the room changed dramatically in those three-and-a-half minutes,” Was tells the BBC “So we said, ‘let’s do another one’, and ‘let’s do another one.’ “They just called songs off that they knew and loved. It was very spontaneous. And by the end of the day we had six.”
Blue & Lonesome will include 12 tracks recorded in three days at London’s British Grove Studios. They are all blues covers and include Howlin’ Wolf’s “Commit a Crime,” Little Walter’s “I Gotta Go” and Jimmy Reed’s “Little Rain.”
“They really know this music well,” Was said. “Most of the songs that are on there are songs they played when they first started out, playing pubs in Richmond, so it’s kind of second nature to them. They do not play karaoke versions. They found their own way to interpret the blues.”
As previously reported Eric Clapton contributed to two tracks, Little Johnny Taylor’s “Everybody Knows About My Good Thing,” and Otis Rush’s “I Can’t Quit You Baby.”
“Eric Clapton was recording next door,” explained Was. “He just walked over and he had the same reaction as everyone else did. His jaw just dropped. Picture the Rolling Stones just set up in a circle in one room [and] the amplifiers are blaring. It reminded him of when he was a teenager, going to see the Stones playing in Richmond. He was just in awe, so he just grabbed one of Keith’s guitars and started playing. It was quite a thing.”
Was added that the Stones are still planning to complete an album of new material. “Both Keith and Mick have some great new songs,” he said. “They’re far from done.”
Blue & Lonesome will be released in December. The first single “Just Your Fool” will be available on Friday (Oct. 7) for fans that pre-order the record.