Bill Wyman and the Rhythm Kings
Struttin' Our Stuff
Velvel 79708-2
At least now we know why Wyman left the most lucrative band in rock'n'roll -- Mick wouldn't let him sing. And for good reason; Wyman's vocals have a whispered, croaky quality to them, sort of like Leonard Cohen without the angst. On his first post-Stones solo effort, Wyman takes four of the 12 vocals for himself, and they're pretty dismal, even with the help of back-up singer Beverley Skeete. They include the opening track, a thoroughly unnecessary remake of Creedence's "Green River" and the bad disco-rock of "Stuff (Can't Get Enough)."

Fortunately, spending 30-odd years with Mick and Keith can win you friends and open doors. Wyman is smart enough to bring some of those friends into the studio with him. Guitarists Eric Clapton, Albert Lee, Martin Taylor and even Peter Frampton help out. Clapton shows his best stuff on "Melody," written by Wyman's old bandmates, while Lee plays fast and fluid on the countryish "Motorvatin' Mama" and the self-describing "Jitterbug Boogie." I particularly liked pianist Dave Hartley's work on the latter.

The prize appearance, however, belongs, as it so often does, to Georgie Fame. The singer-organist oozes a Mose Allison-like cool on "Melody," "Motorvatin' Mama" and "Hole in My Shoe." Wyman can do whatever he wants in the studio, so why doesn't he just play his bass and let Fame handle the vocals? Struttin' Our Stuff is hit-and-miss, with the successes just whetting one's appetite for more.

-- David Feld

This page and all contents are © 1998 by Blues Access,
Boulder, CO, USA.