Mick Jagger & The Red Devils; "The Nature Of My Game", 1CD, cat. no. Mecca CD PRO 666. Running time: over 71 mins. Number of tracks: 21. Number of titles: 13. Type: studio outtakes. Price: Approx: £15 / $23.
I've always preferred the bluesy side of the Stones, and I'd rather listen to their version of Bo Diddley and Howlin' Wolf classics than putting "Dirty Work" on the turntable. Mick Jagger's vocal abilities certainly are limited, but he always succeds in choosing those blues numbers that match his voice and vocal range.
"A rare collection of fiery blues covers recorded live in the studio" is the only information this CD gives you. "It's Mick Jagger and the Red Devils" the shop assistant said - adding that "The Red Devils are a nice blues group that play the blues in the style of J. Geils Band". I had never heard of these Devils before, nor did I ever associate the J. Geils Band with blues music, but I did buy the record.
"The Nature of My Game" is Mick Jagger interpreting his favourite blues singers, such as Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson. Still, this is a white man's blues. The overall sound makes me think of
those 60s British and American pop groups playing the blues, say The Yardbirds and The Animals in their early days. The pace is usually uptempo and the band lays down a very tight and not too subtle rhythm with too much stres on bass and drums. The guitar playing is rather uninspired, but the harmonica is fine. There must be hundreds of white blues bands sounding like The Red Devils.
The sound is rather muted, but acceptable. An equalizer or sound field processor will upgrade the sound quality to a certain extent, but will not do away with the hiss and rumble in the background. Still, I wish the Stones or Jagger would release more stuff like this.
PS. Some of these credits may easily be disputed because they are claimed by more than one bluseman. "One Way Out" was also recorded and claimed by Elmore James, as can be checked on his "One Way Out" LP. I found "Evil" on a Howlin' Wolf LP credited to the Wolf, but some attribute to Willie Dixon. Finally "Forty Days and Forty Nights" is sometimes credited to Roth & Muddy Waters; though it's the latter who made the song famous, I found the song on a Muddy Waters CD credited to B. Roth only.
1: Mean Old World (Little Walter)
2-4: Blues With A Feeling (Little Walter - 3 takes)
5: You Better Watch Yourself (Little Walter)
6-7: Still A Fool (Two Trains Running) (Muddy Waters,2)
8: Checkin' Up On My Baby (Sonny Boy Williamson)
9-10: One Way Out: (Sonny Boy Williamson - 2 takes)
11: Talk To Me Baby (Can't Hold Out) (Elmore James)
12-14: Evil (Howlin' Wolf - 3 takes)
15: That Ain't Your Business (Slim Harpo)
16: Shake 'm All Down (Bukka White)
17: Don't Go No Further (William Dixon)
18-19: Dream Girl (J. D. Miller & Slim Harpo - 2 takes)
20-21: Forty Days and Forty Nights (B. Roth - 2 takes)
It's Only Rock'n Roll no. 25 Feb. 1996 - © The Rolling Stones Fan Club Of Europe