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Various Artists | Chicago Plays the Stones

Insert your own Satisfaction reference here.

Hey, we all need someone we can lean on. And for much of their epic career — from their first recordings to their 2016 album Blue & LonesomeThe Rolling Stones have leaned pretty heavily on the blues. Especially the Chicago blues of Chess and Vee-Jay titans like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Willie Dixon and Jimmy Reed. Well, those icons are long gone, but last time I checked, turnabout is still fair play. So on Chicago Plays the Stones, a roster of younger guns — spiked with a few old-school ringers and high-profile heroes — tackle a slate of Stones oldies and classics. The obvious starting point and standout is Buddy Guy‘s searing slow-burn take on Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker). The track features an assist from none other than Mick Jagger, who blows some honking harp and offers call-and-response vocals on the choruses. But with no offence to Sir Mick, the real stars of this show are Buddy’s volcanic axe abuse and urgently soulful delivery. He makes Jagger’s tales of police shootings and urban blight sound even more relevant than they were back in 1973 — and makes the song his own in the process. Not every other artist smacks it out of the park so magnificently — a major chunk of the disc consists of fairly generic 12-bar shuffles and slide-guitar stompers — but there are enough inspired takes peppered into the lineup to keep you interested. Billy Branch‘s tense, piano-fuelled Sympathy For the Devil grows from a simple guitar and bass drum to a double-time raveup. Gospel great Leanne Faine gives Merry Clayton a run for the money on a hard-grooving Gimme Shelter. Mike Avery finds the dark heart of loneliness at the centre of a thumping Miss You. Carlos Johnson and his well-deep pipes tear through Out of Control like he’s late for the bus. Jimmy Burns puts some glide in his stride on a funky Dead Flowers. And because one Stones cameo is not enough, Keith Richards contributes fretwork to Jimmy Burns’ Beast of Burden. Insert your own Satisfaction reference here.

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