Album review: BILL WYMAN/RHYTHM KINGS – The Best Of

The Best Of Bill Wyman and Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings

Edsel Records [Release date 29.07.16]

Ask almost anyone to name three things about Bill Wyman, and the chances are you’ll get three of 1) Rolling Stone, 2) Mandy Smith, 3) (Si Si) Je Suis Un Rock Star, and 4) Rhythm Kings.

I’ll admit, it had rather passed me by that Bill Wyman left The Stones in 1993.  But, fed up of being unable to get his own writing past the formidable Richards/Jagger dictatorship, he actually started producing solo material as early as 1974.

However, none of his five solo albums, his five albums with The Rhythm Kings, or his recent Willie And The Poor Boys collaborative project have registered significantly with the record buying public, and even his 1981 ‘hit’ ‘Je Suis Un Rock Star’ only made #14 on the charts.

So, with 37 hand-picked tracks over two discs, what better way to re-evaluate the Bill Wyman back catalogue?

The first disc focuses on his four solo releases between 1974 and 1992 and being a Rolling Stone, he’s had the unquestionable benefit of being able to call on the ‘Who’s Who’ of the rock fraternity including the likes of Ray Cooper, Chris Rea, Danny Kortchmar, Dr John, Joe Walsh, Jim Keltner, Van Morrison, Bob Welch, Nicky Hopkins and Leon Russell.

The playing is therefore beyond reproach, but it’s all rather laid back spanning light funk, the blues and reggae, to easy listening and Chas And Dave/Only Fools And Horses style boogie woogie.

While not unpleasant, and not uninteresting, and sensibly grouped largely by album (but strangely not chronologically) there’s little here to make me think a return visit will be necessary anytime soon.

Disc 2 focuses on his Rhythm Kings work, and recent Willie And The Poor Boys release.  The opener ‘Jitterbug Boogie’ (one of only two self-penned numbers on the disc), just about sums up the flavour of the material.

It’s on a par with that of Jools Holland’s Big/Rhythm And Blues Band, but with a more stellar guest list – Albert Lee, Georgie Fame, EC, Peter Frampton, and Gary Brooker to name but just a few.

It’s summed up by covers of standards such as ‘Daydream’ (The Lovin’ Spoonful), ‘I Put A Spell On You’ (Screamin’ Jay Hawkins), and ‘Groovin’ ‘ (The Young Rascals).

But what you have to remember, Bill Wyman is fast approaching 80 and his solo work is largely a reflection of the music he listened to as a youth.  However, for those of us who cut our musical teeth at the very end of the 1960s/early 1970s – and who still have an active interest in the current music scene – it really is a collection for those of us too old to rock ‘n’ roll.

On the other hand, for the well-heeled baby boomers in corduroys and comfy loafers amongst us who consider The Royal Albert Hall their local ‘gig’, this is probably an essential purchase.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

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In this show, first broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 2 February 2020, David Randall plays a selection of tracks from some of the artists who impressed at this year’s Giants Of Rock event in Minehead (24-27 January).

Featured Albums w/c 17 February (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 NEWMAN Ignition (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK SWAN Shake The World (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 CORMAC O CAOIMH Swim Crawl Walk Run (indie)

Power Plays w/c 17 February (Mon-Fri)

SHAKRA Turn The Light On (AFM Records)
THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA Transmissions (Nuclear Blast)
RYDERS CREED Lost Soul (Off Yer Rocka Recordings)
FRAMING HANLEY Puzzle Pieces (Thermal Entertainment LLC)
ROBERT HART Mysterious (Escape Music)

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