Blue and Lonesome, the 2016 album of Rolling Stones blues covers, reminded everyone of the World's Greatest Rock and Roll Band's true musical beginnings , despite the many sea changes the band has endured. Those roots have remained a reassuring constant, though it's difficult to imagine any era when the bulk of the Stones' repertoire weren't Jagger-Richards originals. That's precisely the era covered by The Rolling Stones On Air. Of the 32 tracks on the 2-CD deluxe version, compiled from various 1963-65 BBC radio performances, many of them bootlegged over the past few decades. This marks their first official release.
Scotty Moore and Elvis Presley are names forever joined in history, Scotty, Elvis's first guitarist, died yesterday at 84 in Nashville, where he'd resided for over half a century. From Presley's first Sun recordings in July 1954, until the singer entered the Army in 1958, and for a brief time after his 1960 discharge, Scotty's bopping, snarling and slashing guitar framed Elvis's vocals on everything from "That's All Right (Mama)" to "Hard Headed Woman" (from King Creole).
Yesterday, Chuck Berry, one of the architects of rock, turned 89. Still hanging in and living in Missouri, he performed up until a year ago but apparently takes it easy these days. These clips one from 1956 beginning and two later ones of Berry with two of his best-known disciples, say it all.
Everyone who knows the Rolling Stones' heritage and musical roots know they took their name from a Muddy Waters song and that Brian Jones, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards became fans of American blues and R&B when they were teenagers. They scarfed up all the Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Little Walter and Howlin' Wolf records (to name just a few of the acts they loved) they could find and copied them closely. By the time they started working together, they already had the seeds of their sound.
In discussing the fuzztone sound for guitars and basses, a lot of claims are made by fans about how it all began. Everybody knows Keith Richards' used it on the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction. And of course Paul McCartney played "fuzz bass," using the same or similar tone-altering device as Keith, on tune "Think For Yourself" on Rubber Soul. As noted so often on this blog, for various reasons, the truth is often not that simple. I'll try to put it in a coherent order.