The Rolling Stones at London's Marquee Club in London, 1971. From left: Mick Jagger, Mick Taylor, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts. (J. Maum / Associated Press)

By John Corrigan

May 14, 2013, 5:00 a.m.

If you liked the way the Rolling Stones sounded with Mick Taylor back in the late 1960s and early '70s -- darker and bluesier than more recent conjurings -- you have a chance to hear that signature growl once again.

The Stones' 50 & Counting tour, which returns to Southern California for three shows starting Wednesday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, pays tribute to those years with no-nonsense renditions of songs such as “Midnight Rambler,” “Sympathy for the Devil” and “Gimme Shelter.”

It starts with the gear. Guitarist Ron Wood is usually seen with a Fender Stratocaster, but for the concert at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night, he frequently turned to a Gibson Les Paul, with its heavier rock rumble.

Keith Richards still favors his Telecasters, but for key moments -- including his shrieking leads on “Sympathy” -- he switched to a battered Les Paul Jr.

But nothing brings back that classic hard-rock Stones sound like the man who sits in with the band for a song or two: Mick Taylor.

Taylor played lead guitar on what many consider the Stones’ three greatest albums -- “Let it Bleed,” “Exile on Main St.” and “Sticky Fingers” -- before quitting over his perceived lack of songwriting credit.

Give credit to Richards, Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts and Wood for bringing Taylor back for this tour. The Stones don’t really need him; they’re a monster touring act that can sell out arenas on their own.

But this particular rock corporation started off as a humble blues band. When Taylor takes the stage, however briefly, we can truly see back 50 years to the band’s roots.

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