In Another Land 45 by Bill Wyman

June 9, 2012

Bill Wyman always had a difficult time getting his music recorded by The Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger and Keith Richard were the writers and leaders of the band and The Stones were one of the best and most successful rock bands in music history.

While recording the album THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST, Bill Wyman arrived at the studio not knowing that the session had been canceled. He recorded “In Another Land” with Steve Marriott on guitar, Ronnie Lane providing backing vocals, Nicky Hopkins on keyboards, and Charlie Watts providing the drum work. He sang and played bass.

The song fit in with the album’s music and was included. It was releaseed as a single under his own name, but only reached number number 87 during late 1967. It was an odd and dreamy piece of psychedelic pop that had tough going on AM radio at the time.

When he left the Stones during 1997, he found an outlet for his music with his band The Rhythm Kings.

Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings Collector’s Box Set by Bill Wyman

November 3, 2011

Bill Wyman brought his 31 year membership in the Rolling Stones to a conclusion during 1991. He had been a part of one of the great rhythm sections in music history and a stalwart in what has been called the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band. Little did he realize at the time that he would be embarking upon another long-term career as the leader of his own band.

He formed The Rhythm Kings as a low key project to fill in the time after his high pressure existence in the Rolling Stones. It provided him with a vehicle to play, write, and produce music on his own terms. The Rhythm Kings have had an ever changing array of superstars lending a hand to assist him. It was a credit to his stature and talent that he has been able to attract such musicians as Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Mark Knopfler, Nicky Hopkins, Paul Carrack, Peter Frampton, Gary Brooker, Mick Taylor, Albert Lee, Andy Fairweather-Low, and a host of others to create his music.

The five-disc Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings Collector’s Edition Box Set gathers together four studio albums released 1998-2001. The 66 tracks give a complete look into the musical vision of Bill Wyman that had been buried inthe Rolling Stones juggernaut, plus contains some stunning performances by some of rock music’s elite.

Struttin’ Our Stuff was the band’s debut album and in many regards his most hands on in the creation of the music. He wrote or co-wrote 6 of the 12 tracks and then just selected the songs he wanted for the other six tracks. His voice has always been an acquired taste, and here he provides the vocals on a number of tracks including his own “Stuff (Can’t Get Enough),” and “Going Crazy Overnight.” Some of the other vocalists included Paul Carrack, Beverly Skeete, Gary Brooker, and Georgie Fame. It is a good introduction to his music and remains the simplest of his releases as it presents good-time rock ‘n’ roll.

Anyway The Wind Blows is fast paced, fun, and the best of the four albums for sheer enjoyment. He backed off providing the lead vocals and left that chore in the capable hands of Fame, Skeete, and Carrack. The title song by JJ Cale, “Spooky,” Willie Dixon’s “Too Late,” Mose Allison’s “Days Like This,” and “Gee Baby Ain’t I Good To You” were all part of a well thought out but eclectic group of cover songs and the likes of Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton, Gary Brooker, Albert Lee, and Mick Taylor help bring them to life with a great degree of spontaneity.

Oddly, the title track and old Rascals tune, “Groovin’” was this album’s weakest track. The release went in a lot of directions musically as rockabilly, pop, rock, and jazz shared the stage together. Many of the tracks are excellent but the album never gets into a consistent groove as the title suggests. “Mood Swing” was a rare lead vocal by Albert King, “Hole In The Wall,” written by Wyman and his long-time sidekick Terry Taylor, is a nice rock-romp, and Brooker leads the band through a good cover of the old Lovin’ Spoonful tune, “Daydream.”

Double Bill was a long and sprawling album that covers two discs and 24 tracks. It probably could have been divided into two releases as again there was a variety of styles. There was a lot of blues including Delta and Chicago, plus some swing music and a little gospel. George Harrison’s slide guitar on “Love Letters” was a poignant reminder of his talent as a guitarist.

The Rhythm Kings have achieved a fair amount of success but have sort of peaked commercially. This is partly due to Wyman’s aversion to extensive travel. He travels only by bus, train, or ferry and confines himself to Europe. He seems fine with this steady but sure career path.

Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings Collector’s Edition Box Set does not contain music that has changed the face of rock ‘n’ roll, but it is a loose affair that is a lot of fun and that seems to be enough for Bill Wyman at this stage of his career.

Article first published as Music Review: Bill Wyman – Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings Collector’s Edition Box Set on Blogcritics.

Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadows 45 by The Rolling Stones

January 18, 2011

“Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadows” is one of those Rolling Stones songs that is now lost in their vast catalogue. It reached number nine on The American singles charts during the fall of 1966. While that would be a huge hit for most groups, it was only a moderate hit for The Stones at that point in their career.

It was another dark song by The Stones and you certainly couldn’t dance to it. Still, it had a certain fascination and stayed with you.

The record pictured above is a London Label reissue. The label got alot of mileage re-packaging their material down through the years.

Ruby Tuesday/Let’s Spend The Night Together 45 by The Rolling Stones

January 17, 2011

“Ruby Tuesday” was released January 21, 1967 and would go on to top The American Singles Charts for one week. It can best be described as a mid-tempo rock song with Mick Jagger’s voice straining against over the mix.

The gem of the single release was the flip side. “Let’s Spend The Night Together” was one of those raw and sexual songs that made The Rolling Stones famous. Do to the nature of the lyrics, radio airplay was limited, but it managed to climb to number 55 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Charts.

“Ruby Tuesday” had gradually faded into their massive catalogue but “Let’s Spend The Night Together” has remained the epitome of who The Rolling Stones are as a rock band.

Satisfaction 45 by The Rolling Stones

December 20, 2009

“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is one of the signature songs of rock ‘n’ roll. It opening guitar riff is instantly recognizable to three generations of music fans. It is difficult to believe that it will be 45 years old in just a few months.

The Rolling Stones formed in early 1963 as a British rhythm and blues/rock fusion band. Their first hits in The United States made them an important part of the British Invasion. “Time Is On My Side,” “The Last Time,” “It’s All Over Now,” and “Heart Of Stone” gained them acclaim and popularity on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. These songs were, however, just a warm-up.

“Satisfaction” hit number one in the USA in June of 1965 and stayed there for a month which propelled The Rolling Stones into the upper strata of rock bands. Even the somewhat tongue in cheek flip side, “The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man” is very listenable.

“Satisfaction” was and remains rock ‘n’ roll at its very best and is one of the perfect single releases in rock history. Very few artists have covered this song as it was done right the first time. It set The Rolling Stones on the road to becoming the world’s greatest rock band.

A Bigger Bang by The Rolling Stones

February 24, 2009

A Bigger Bang was released in the United States on September 6, 2005. To date this is the last Rolling Stones studio album. It reached the number three position on the American charts and sold over a million copies in this country alone. This release proved there is still some life left in the old dog.

The Rolling Stones retreated to Mick Jagger’s house in France and set up shop in his personal studio to record this album. Mick, Charlie and Keith form the basic core for A Bigger Bang. Regular bassist Darryl Jones plays on most of the tracks and keyboardist Chuck Leavell also makes several appearances. Ronnie Wood only contributes to about half the songs. There is basically no one else. Mick plays some bass, harmonica and even an effective slide guitar. This back to a basics, stripped down affair works well as it returns the Stones to their rock ‘n’ roll roots.

This was a good effort for the Stones as they proved they can still sound fresh and make energetic rock ‘n’ roll 45 years after their birth. I can’t help but think that what separates this album and a number of other good Rolling Stones albums are just the lack of a classic or signature song to provide a foundation from which to launch the rest of the tracks. When I listen to the album as a whole, it is mostly excellent, yet if I start separating the songs into their individual parts it does not fare as well.

The Stones would leave on another massive world tour in support of this release and it would be anything but a basic stripped down affair. Rather, it would fill stadiums and arenas for over two years and gross close to a half billion dollars. The highlight of the tour would be a free concert in Brazil that would draw close to a million fans.

The song, “Dangerous Beauty,” really defines this album. It is just Mick, Charlie and Keith laying down some basic rock ‘n’ roll. I can’t help but wish that there was more music of this type.

“Rough Justice” is the lead track and informs the listener that all is fine with The Rolling Stones. Keith’s guitar and Mick’s strong vocals combine together to drive the song along. “Let Me Down Slow” contains a line that says; “are you coloring your hair with some new kind of dye?” This short verse just about somes up the members of the Stones as they had entered their sixties.

A Bigger Bang contains a number of other worthwhile songs. “Rain Fall Down” is a power ballad type number with a Mick Jagger falsetto that harps back twenty years or so. “This Place is Empty” finds Keith giving what appears to be a tired lead vocal which is just about perfect for him after all these years. “Oh No, Not You Again,” is a classic Rolling Stones track with Keith and Ronnie meshing their guitar sound into a solid rock ‘n’ roll romp. “Back Of My Mind” may be the best track on the album as it returns the Stones to their blues roots.

The only real miss on the album is the political, anti-Bush, anti-Washington, “Sweet Neo Con.” Political views aside, 2005 was not a year that I wanted to hear non Americans criticizing this country, especially when it was a poorly constructed song.

A Bigger Bang proves that The Rolling Stones can still produce credible and relevant rock ‘n’ roll. Mick Jagger has stated that he likes this album and that’s good enough for me. Hopefully there will be more to come.

Stripped and No Security by The Rolling Stones

February 22, 2009

Stripped, released in 1995, and No Security, released in 1998, and were the eighth and ninth live albums released by The Rolling Stones. Sometimes I wish the Stones would have put as much thought into their modern day studio albums as they did into these two live albums. Conceptually the albums are well thought out and as such are interesting.

Stripped may be the best Rolling Stones album of the past twenty years. It is as the title implies. The album is basically Jagger, Richards, Watts, Wood, and Jones with Chuck Leavell in support. The songs were recorded live in the studio and in small venues. There are some electric guitars present but it is the acoustic sound that makes the album unique and creative. Best of all is the choice of the songs. Many obscure tracks and a few gems are resurrected for creative reinterpretations.

Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” received the most airplay when this album was released. If you are going to interpret Dylan, and particularly this song, you had better be not only good but inventive, and the Stones are both. They cruise through a rocking, rollicking version with Mick Jagger providing stellar vocals.

The album is mostly a highlight reel. “Street Fighting Man” is given an acoustic-electric treatment which changes the tenor of the song but not the intensity. “Not Fade Away” returns forty plus years after its release and Mick Jagger’s copying of Buddy Holly’s vocal intonations is priceless. “Dead Flowers,” from Sticky Fingers, retains its country roots and features an appropriately insincere vocal by Jagger. The old Robert Johnson tune, “Love In Vain,” is given a fine blues treatment featuring Woody on slide guitar. This version of “Wild Horses” is definitive.

I would love to see the Stones perform this way on tour. It would just be the Stones sitting around and casually playing their songs without hype or fireworks. The problem is the Stones can still sell out stadiums and arenas, so it is a question of economics. Stripped presents the Rolling Stones at their best and as they should be every so often.

No Security does not have the brilliance of Stripped but is interesting in its own right. I call this a fill in the gaps live album. The songs had either never been released on a Stones live album or at least had not appeared for a very long time.

“You Got Me Rocking” features a fine Keith Richards guitar solo with Woody in support. “Out Of Control” and “Flip The Switch” both rock nicely and it is nice to hear live versions of these studio tracks. “Respectable,” from Some Girls, is vastly superior to the largely forgotten studio version. “Sister Morphine” is still chilling and will always bring Marianne Faithful to mind. Taj Mahal joins the Stones on “Corinna” and chugs through an excellent version of this song.

A real miss on the album is the Dave Matthews collaboration on “Memory Hotel.” He takes Keith’s place and duets with Mick Jagger. This is a strange vocal pairing at best and makes me long for good old Keith.

No Security features mostly fine, but not outstanding performances. It is probably an album that can be skipped unless you want to, as I wrote earlier, fill in the gaps.

Finally; can anyone tell me the names of the two people on the cover of the compact disc?