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Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings - Live Communication

  by Lisa Torem

published: 8 / 12 / 2011

Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings - Live Communication
Label: Repertoire Records
Format: CD


First-rate collection of classic love covers from former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman and his band the Rhythm Kings

His “walking” style of bass playing was inspired by bluesman Willie Dixon. He has produced records, TV and film scores, and has written several books about his own life, with the Stones and as a photojournalist, including his 1990 biography, 'Stone Alone', and 2002's 'Rolling with the Stones'. He is also a restaurateur and professional photographer who has had his work showcased internationally, and has even patented a metal detector, which allows him to unearth ancient relics in his native England. With a CV, which includes being bassist of the Rolling Stones, for several decades, Bill Wyman could have cemented his place in rock and roll history, but he went on to form the industrious Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings. Their newest release, recorded live, hence the name, 'Live Communication' features an outstanding group of musicians. The line-up includes guitarist Albert Lee, vocalists (Dr. Hook) Dennis Locorriere and Beverley Skeete, pianist/accordionist Geraint Watkins, Graham Broad on drums, and Nick Payn and Frank Mead on sax. The 13-track CD pulls from a variety of genres: blues, boogies, rock, rockabilly, swing, as well as from a pool of acclaimed songwriters: Willie Dixon, Carole King, Ashford/Simpson, Lieber/Stoller, Joe Tex and even Chuck Berry. But it is the extreme sophistication, yet earthiness, that exudes from this recording that makes it outstanding. The opener, ‘She’s Looking Good’ comes alive with cascading horns, funky vocals and twangy guitar. Geraint Watkins provides super solid keys and Graham Broad's drums fatten up the funky theme: “You wear your dresses extra tight…” Another steamy classic, ‘Unchain My Heart’, is punctuated by fierce horns and well-placed vocal harmonies. ‘All Night Long’ dips into Zydeco waters with a generous infusion of rockabilly. ‘Drown in My Own Tears’, another unbeatable classic, is sweetened again by Watkins’ capable hands and ears and informed by snarling vocals and pitch-perfect horns. Nick Payn’s exploratory sax makes this a more than typical 12-bar blues. The ‘Harlem Shuffle’ is solid soul with loopy lyrics; “You scratch just like a monkey” and “Shake your tail feather, baby!” Randy Newman’s ‘Louisiana 1927’ is moving and given the royal treatment with blaring brass, grumbling vocals and powerful imagery: “6 feet of water in the streets of Evangeline, Louisiana/They tried to wash us away.” The socio-political edge is amplified by this glorious arrangement. ‘Show Me’ puts Wyman’s bass, upfront and centre, in this Joe Tex classic. Then it is back to 1956, Chicago, for Dixon’s attitude-adjusting ‘Too Late.’ “Tired of all your fussing and I can’t stand your cussing, I’m gone.” Ashford and Simpson's ‘I Don’t Need No Doctor’ is also a cleverly written tune: “They put me on a critical list/Now all I need is your sweet, sweet kiss/Can’t stand your cooking and you ain’t good looking/I’m gone…” But the piece de resistance and what would cause Chuck Berry to roll over, is ‘Johnny B. Goode.’ It includes strains of ‘Goldfinger’ and Cole Porter’s (from “Kiss me Kate”) blazing, ‘Too Darn Hot’ as a juxtaposed theme. Blinding drums also make it a standout. This arrangement is like nothing you have ever heard and it makes for a blistering ensemble piece! You expect Cab Calloway to shout some snappy phrases before the song ends. It ends in an unexpected uproar of cacophony. Wyman says a few words before an appreciative audience before taking a much-needed breath and then launches into Lieber/Stoller’s ‘That is Rock & Roll’. The album ends on a more melancholy note with ‘Crying in the Rain’, a bittersweet, understated duet with brilliant guitar. All in all, “Live Communication” is a great album which takes us through a smattering of pop music’s most expressive and exciting eras, and which is driven home, spot on, by a phenomenal ensemble.

Track Listing:-
1 She's Looking Good
2 Unchain My Heart
3 All Night Long
4 Drown In My Own Tears
5 That's Better For Me
6 Harlem Shuffle
7 Louisiana 1927
8 Show Me
9 Too Late
10 I Don't Need No Doctor
11 Johnny B Goode
12 That Is Rock & Roll
13 Crying In The Rain

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