The Rolling Stones, England’s Newest Hitmakers

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

England's Newest Hitmakers

The Rolling Stones

When they first came to America, the Stones claimed to be bringing the blues back home. But even on their debut album, they're not as purist as, say, the 1964 Animals. There's only three blues tunes here, and two of them — Jimmy Reed's “Honest I Do” and Slim Harpo's exotic “King Bee,” with its buzzing and stinging guitars and Mick's molasses-soaked vocals — were by bluesmen known to hit the pop charts. Muddy Waters'deep blues “I Just Want to Make Love to You” gets a hopped-up treatment highlighted by Brian's wailing harp, which tends to brighten the darkest sounds.

The Stones’ debut album.

No, this is trashy, unrefined rocked-up R&B from the git: their Bo Diddley-fied take on Buddy Holly's “Not Fade Away,” which turned out to be their manifesto, has great shredding guitars and more echoing harp. Then there's a careening, relentlessly rocking take on Chuck Berry's “Carol,” while the two tensile guitars carry their version of “Route 66″ (based on Berry's). On their incongruously earnest strut through Rufus Thomas'R&B novelty “Walking the Dog,” Brian's and Keith's guitars alternately duke it out and mesh, a forerunner to what would become the band's trademark sound. Oh, and this rhythm section's pretty good, too.