Record Of The Week # 141

Various – Stoned Cold Country

“It’s a love letter to the Rolling Stones from Nashville” says the curator, and the man behind the project, Robert Deaton. Apparently it ties in with it being 60 years (and nine months) since the Stones performed their first gig at The Marquee in London. Their catalogue is a wonderful tour of American roots music whether it’s pop, blues, soul or rock n’ roll but the country music connections are less convincing despite Gram Parsons being a one time buddy of Keef and a few tracks here and there. (Their tongue in cheek pastiche, Far Away Eyes, off Some Girls remains a favourite of mine.) If there’s a challenge in taking a selection of terrific vocalists and unleashing them on a few of the greatest rock songs ever written it’s that some of the charm is in Jagger’s idiosyncratic and unique delivery.

All the arrangements are beautifully constructed with formidable musicianship. The creations are broadly faithful to the originals if updated and I was impressed by the ‘no expense spared’ approach to strings, B3 organs, horns, girly backing vocals etc. In the blurb there’s no appearance of one of the English (US) language’s most pernicious words … ‘reimagining’. I’m pleased about the absence of desecration but this approach makes it karaoke with artists lending their voices.

The album starts very strongly but then starts to drift to still crafted but less memorable tracks. Few tracks have country flourishes although pedal steel can be prominent as on Maren Morris’ wonderful Dead Flowers or Little Big Town’s sterilised Wild Horses. The combination of The Brothers Osborne & The War and Treaty is inspired as this gospel infused version of It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll (But I Like It) is truly epic. Ashley McBryde really leans into (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction and she should wave the fee for having had so much fun. Brook & Dunn, blues guitarist (Nashville?) Marcus King, Steve Earle do memorable versions of their covers and Lainey Wilson brings her sensational southern drawl to the funeral paced You Can’t Always Get What you Want and captures the essence of the song.

It’s a really nice album with few songs you’d skip. I’m sure many artists couldn’t believe their luck being invited and paid to sing songs they’ve probably played sometime in their career. If you like the Stones and country music fill your boots. I did!

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