Collectors Edition 5CD Box Set

Bill Wyman

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2-5 days
Proper Records
April 1, 2013

Format: Compact Disc



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Limited Edition US Only Import, Special Offer Price (reduced from £29.99), Available ONLY from and whilst stocks last.

Back in the 1990's, Bill Wyman did the unthinkable and left The Rolling Stones - the consensus greatest rock 'n' roll band of all time and he went on to form a group of his own that equaled his previous band in terms of chops, while actually surpassing the Stones in sheer versatility. What's more, Wyman has manage to keep Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings going strong for a decade and a half and counting, with an ever-shifting lineup of fellow all-star players coming together from all points on the stylistic map and locking together with the precision of a Swiss watch - albeit with a lot more soul. For Wyman, this remarkable accomplishment was the most natural thing in the world. This musicians' musician just wants to play music, free of all the surrounding bullshit, and so do his talented friends.

This five-disc box set, which gathers four studio albums Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings cranked out between their 1998 debut, Struttin' Our Stuff and 2001's Double Bill, is a revelation, particularly for those who have yet to discover the rich body of work of Wyman's low-profile/high-revving band. Given the expansive array of material the Rhythm Kings tackle in these recordings, one even might think of this collection as a pocket history of 20th century roots music, with original material written in the spirit of the old songs serving as the connective tissue.

A founding member of the Stones, and half of what may be rock's best-ever rhythm section, Wyman remains a refreshingly humble and down-to-earth character. The notion of an egoless rock star may seem oxymoronic, but Wyman turns out to be the ultimate embodiment of just that. "I don't need an ego," he says. "I never did. Charlie Watts is the same. Charlie didn't give a shit about any of that. We'd just do it, get on with it and go home, or back to the hotel. And I'm still like that."

It's this quality that has drawn a jaw-dropping procession of virtuosos to play alongside Wyman in the context of Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings whenever their busy schedules have permitted. Scattered here and there through these 66 tracks are the likes of Eric Clapton, Procol Harum's Gary Brooker, fellow former Stone Mick Taylor, Peter Frampton, Paul Carrack, Chris Rea, acclaimed jazz guitarist Martin Taylor, master percussionist Ray Cooper and, in some of their final recordings, George Harrison and Nicky Hopkins. These greats have slipped seamlessly into the sturdy yet willowy framework provided by core members Wyman, drummer Graham Broad (best known for his work with Roger Waters), singer/guitarist Andy Fairweather-Low (Eric Clapton), legendary singer/organist Georgie Fame, renowned roots guitarist Albert Lee, vocalist Beverly Skeete, horn players Frank Mead and Nick Payn, pianist Geraint Watkins and guitarist Terry Taylor, who doubles as Wyman's primary collaborator on the originals.

As he looks back on the last 20 years of his life and career, the affable, perennially youthful Wyman peppers his conversation with wry laughter as understated as his playing style, onstage demeanor and personality. "In '91, the Stones had a big business meeting," he begins. "They were about to sign the contract with Virgin, and I said, 'I won't be doing that, 'cause I'm leaving.' 'No you're not,' they said. 'You can't leave.' 'Well, I am.' Bless them, they didn't believe me for two years; they left the door open until they were ready to go out on the '94 tour. And in late '93, Charlie and Mick came 'round and said, 'Is it definite? Have you left?' I said, 'I left two years ago.'

"In that time I didn't do anything musically - I focused on other things. I worked on books [he's written seven], photography, archaeology, my restaurant 'Sticky Fingers' - and all the other things that interest me. And also, I got married, of course, which is now 18 years. We have three beautiful teenage daughters. So then I thought, maybe I should do some music on the side, but not heavy; I don't want to have to worry about charts, image and all that crap. It's not gonna be a career move - I'm just gonna do it for the fun. I got together with my mate and right-hand man Terry Taylor, and I said, 'Let's do something.' We were gonna just do a blues duo and call ourselves the Dirt Boys, and we started to rough up ideas. And then, when we decided to go into the studio just for a couple of days, we thought it might be nice to have a drummer, and, of course, a piano player would be good. So I just phoned up a few mates."

His first calls were to Fairweather-Low - who'd been part of Wyman's '80s group, Willie & the Poor Boys, the stylistic forerunner of Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings - Graham Broad and pianist Dave Hartley, who went on to work with Sting. "We went into the studio, and I said, 'We'll cut anything that meets my fancy,'" he continues. "I dug out a list of early music that I liked and thought might be good to do. It ranged from Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Fats Waller, Ray Charles, into the early rock 'n' roll, like Louie Jordan and Cab Calloway - all the way back to the '30s and upwards. So we went in for three days and cut eight tracks, and they were really good. A month later, I went in again, this time with Georgie Fame, the great organ player. We were cutting stuff pretty quick, three takes at the most. I don't like doing more than that because, if you do, you lose the thrill of it. If you carry on and on, it becomes so mechanical. I used to find that with the Stones - we'd do a million takes and we'd typically revert back to an early take, where it was still free and everybody was playing for the fun of it instead of getting so serious."

His engineer then told him about Beverley Skeete, who was an in-demand backing vocalist but had never previously sung lead. "She came down to the studio and did a duet with Georgie Fame on 'Melody,' the Stones song. They did it in one shot, and I said, 'That was fantastic - we got it." And they went, 'Can we do it again?' I said, 'Why? Aren't you happy?' They said, 'Oh, yeah, but we're just enjoying it.' So they cut it again, and it was even better. She's remained in the band ever since."

This anecdote gets to the heart of the easy-going yet deeply committed vibe that characterizes this band - the same vibe that soon thereafter lured Gary Brooker, who played piano to Fame's organ for three and a half years until Procol Harum got back together, and Frampton, whom Wyman has known since the guitarist was a lad of 14. "Then Peter got really busy. He said, 'I can't make it - does that mean I'm out of the band?' I said, 'Yup.' Here, Wyman breaks out his infectious laugh. But for every player who was called away, there was an equally skillful and enthusiastic musician eager to fill the slot, as the concept of Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings took on a life of its own, germinating and blossoming from one year to the next, right to this day. Pretty much every one in the revolving cast of band members has turned down far more lucrative work for the sheer joy of playing music in this stress-free and ego-free unit. "They all give up their time - and often heavy money - to spend like six weeks twice a year to tour because it's such a fun thing to do," says Wyman. "They suck up their pride and do it for the love of it. That makes me so proud."

The numerous live-performance videos uploaded on You Tube by fans show various configurations of Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings, but a palpable spirit permeates every clip. All the musicians appear to be totally blissed out, none more so than Wyman himself, reveling in the experience of simply being one of the guys, making music with friends. "We have a ball," he says. "There's nothing nicer than doing a two-hour show and seeing the entire audience standing and applauding through the last few numbers - and they keep doing it for another 10 minutes after we go back to the dressing room. And it's night after night."

This ecstatic spirit is just as apparent on these recordings. A close listen also reveals that Wyman has turned over a new leaf in his playing with the Rhythm Kings. "What I found was that, when we started doing this music, whether it was a song by Fats Waller, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Chuck Berry or whatever it was, nine times out of 10, the original piece of music was played by a double bass, not by a bass guitar," he points out. "So I had to change my style and play with my thumb instead of a guitar pick in order to sound as much like a double bass as possible with the way I played, but also the notes I played. I don't know how many times people have listened to the records and asked me, 'Who's playing the double bass?' 'No, it's me - I'm playing it with my bass guitar, but I'm playing it in a different way.'

"And then I found out something else. I was never great at songwriting on my own, only if I did tongue-in-cheek things. But I discovered that I could write songs in the old styles, because I would analyze the way they did the arrangements, the way the instrumentation sounded, the way people sang and the slang they used for the lyrics. And in the end, the track, when we'd finish it, would sound like a song from the '30s, '40s or '50s. It's almost like an archeological dig into music. But there ar


More Info

Key Value
Catalogue number PRPABX001
Barcode 0852007001487
Number of items 1
Packaging type Jewel Case
Imported No
Guitar Eric Clapton (Vocals), George Harrison (Vocals), Peter Frampton (Vocals), Peter Frampton (Vocals), Chris Rea (Vocals), Gary Brooker (Vocals), Albert Lee
Vocals Beverley Skeete, Geraint Watkins, Andy Fariweather-Low, Georgie Fame
Weight 100g
Dimensions (LxWxH) 142mm x 10mm x 125mm

Disc 1

Track Listing — Disc 1

Song Title Time
1. Green River 03:16
2. Walking On My Own 03:14
3. Melody 04:53
4. Stuff (Can't Get Enough) 03:44
5. Bad To Be Alone 03:21
6. I'm Mad 03:24
7. Down In The Bottom 02:56
8. Motorvatin' Mama 03:36
9. Jitterbug Boogie 03:12
10. Going Crazy Overnight 03:56
11. Hole In My Soul 04:05
12. Tobacco Road 04:35

Disc 2

Track Listing — Disc 2

Song Title Time
1. Anyway The Wind Blows 03:27
2. Spooky 03:38
3. Walking One & Only 03:31
4. Mojo Boogie 03:40
5. Too Late 02:59
6. Every Sixty Seconds 03:08
7. Ring My Bell 02:54
8. Days Like This 02:52
9. He's A Real Gone Guy 03:22
10. A True Romance 03:05
11. Gee Baby Ain't Good To You 04:04
12. When Hollywood Goes Black & Tan 03:09
13. Crazy He Calls Me 04:17
14. Struttin' Our Stuff 04:34
15. Sugar Babe 04:08
16. Gonna Find Me A New Love 02:55

Disc 3

Track Listing — Disc 3

Song Title Time
1. Tell You A Secret 03:05
2. Groovin' 03:31
3. Rough Cut Diamond 04:06
4. Mood Swing 04:10
5. Hole In The Wall 03:10
6. Can't Get My Rest At Night 03:46
7. I Put A Spell On You 04:07
8. Tomorrow Night 05:00
9. I Want To Be Evil 02:33
10. Rhythm King 04:53
11. Daydream 04:11
12. Oh! Baby 03:56
13. Streamline Woman 02:54
14. Yesterdays 04:28

Disc 4

Track Listing — Disc 4

Song Title Time
1. Long Walk To DC 04:06
2. Hot Foot Blues 05:16
3. Hit That Jive Jack 03:35
4. Love Letters 03:36
5. Love's Down The Drain 05:24
6. I Can't Dance 04:24
7. Medley:Snap Your Fingers / What A Friend We Have In Jesus 03:16
8. Get In The Kitchen 02:23
9. Boogie Woogie All Night Long 03:50
10. Medley: Do You Or Don't You / I Wanna Know 03:32
11. Trust In Me 04:12
12. Turn On Your Lovelight 04:44

Disc 5

Track Listing — Disc 5

Song Title Time
1. The Joint Is Jumping 03:04
2. Brownskin Girl 03:58
3. Tired & Sleepy 03:23
4. Lonely Blue Boy 03:28
5. Bye Bye Blues 03:20
6. Where's The Money 03:50
7. Jellyroll Fool 03:22
8. Jealous Girl 03:30
9. My Handy Man 03:52
10. Rollin' & Stumblin' 03:47
11. Keep On Truckin' 03:32
12. Breakin' Up The House 03:19