Entertainment & Arts

The Rolling Stones 'hit a wall' making new music, says Don Was

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Media captionProducer Don Was chats exclusively to BBC Radio 6 Music about the new Rolling Stones album

The Rolling Stones' new album of blues covers was created after attempts to record new material faltered, producer Don Was has told the BBC.

"We'd gone in the studio to start cutting some new songs," said Was, who has worked with the band since 1994.

"Around day three we just hit a wall... and Keith suggested that, to cleanse the creative palette, we played Blue and Lonesome, the Little Walter song.

"Fortunately we ran the tape and it was just awesome."

He told BBC Radio 6 Music: "The whole mood of the room changed dramatically in those three-and-a-half minutes. 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."

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Image caption Don Was first saw the Rolling Stones aged 12, and has produced all of their albums since 1994's Voodoo Lounge

The result is Blue and Lonesome, the band's first studio album since 2005's A Bigger Bang.

In total, 12 tracks were recorded over three days at London's British Grove Studios. They are all covers of songs by classic bluesmen, including Howlin' Wolf (Commit a Crime), Little Walter (I Gotta Go) and Jimmy Reed (Little Rain).

"They really know this music well," Was told Matt Everitt. "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."

Rock legend Eric Clapton also appears on 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."

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Media captionBehind the scenes of the Rolling Stones' new album

Blue and Lonesome will be released in December, while the first single Just Your Fool is available from Friday 7 October, to fans who pre-order the record.

Was added that the Stones had not abandoned plans to complete an album of new material.

"Both Keith and Mick have some great new songs," he told Matt Everitt. "They're far from done."

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