Various Artists - Stoned Cold Country
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Stoned Cold Country (Broken Bow, 2023)

Various Artists

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Unlike a few previous country artist tributes to other rock acts, the Rolling Stones also have some real country in 'em. Many of these twangier sounds were inspired by Keith Richards' friendship with country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons. Mick Jagger has likely never considered himself a country vocalist, as he's always called himself more of a blues singer. Nevertheless, he's always sung with more of an American tone, than a British one, so he's much countrier than he may give himself credit. "Stoned Cold Country" is a 14-song collection of mostly really good covers of familiar Rolling Stones songs.

While nothing in this set is bad, some stand out above the others. One clear highlight is "You Can't Always Get What You Want," sung by the always enjoyable Lainey Wilson. She's blessed (or cursed, depending on how you look at it) with a voice that always sounds country. While her singing is top notch on this recording as usual, the track's arrangement is what sells it most. It does away with the pretentious string section intro of the original, and instead kicks off with a powerful guitar-y arrangement, colored nicely by wonderful organ. It's bittersweet, without being overly symphonic.

Jimmie Allen also kills it on "Miss You," which was the Stones' controversial disco single from the '70s. Under Allen's command, the song is transformed into a lively, funky effort, made all the better by Mickey Raphael's distinctive harmonica fills. The acoustic guitar-based "It's Only Rock 'N' Roll (But I Like It)," which matches Brothers Osborne and The War and Treaty for an unusual – but nevertheless effective – vocal showdown, also shines. It comes out like the best parts of gospel/rock music.

Elsewhere, Marcus King's blues instincts suit him perfectly for "Can't You Hear Me Knocking," while Little Big Town takes an old warhorse like "Wild Horses," and makes it somehow sound fresh and new. It's also a treat to hear Maren Morris dig into an authentic country arrangement for a change on "Dead Flowers." Even Koe Wetzel comes off way more country than usual on the choir assisted "Shine A Light." Speaking of unusual, Steve Earle sings one of the Stones' saddest songs, "Angie," mostly accompanied by just an acoustic piano.

Not surprisingly, Eric Church is a perfect fit for the keyboard-ed groove of "Gimme Shelter," while Elle King is a natural on "Tumbling Dice." All of this music is at least good, though, including Ashley McBryde's opening "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," Brooks & Dunn (those honky tonkers) doing "Honky Tonk Women" and even Zac Brown Band creating a quality version of "Paint It Black," which is introduced with Gypsy fiddling.

Any act that says it's not at least a little bit inspired by the Rolling Stones, is a liar. This album is a gathering of strong (and well-known songs), which are done especially well. No, Richards and Jagger, we do sometimes get almost everything we really want.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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