Bill Wyman: Back To Basics

William George Perks takes his time.

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The recent reissue of the Rolling Stones masterpiece Sticky Fingers is a reminder of how great a bass player Bill Wyman was: check the way he locks Sway together. On his first solo album in ages he’s still anchoring the beat with aplomb on a set of convivial, slow-paced tracks whose breezy funky grooves are reminiscent of JJ Cale or Willie Nelson, albeit sung in a Lewisham accent.

Given that he’s 78, Bill isn’t likely to pull up any trees and seems happier being discursive about age and mortality on I Lost My Ring and She’s Wonderful.

With a very old-school backing informing everything on Back To Basics, surprises are unlikely, but he does revisit Seventeen, Stuff (Can’t Get Enough) and I’ll Pull You Through, faded snapshots from another time.

Wyman’s vocals are functional and unflashy, but then the workmanlike Stone never did stand out in the crowd. This slice of latter-day limelight won’t do him any harm and the echoes of his love for skiffle and swing back up elements of Hispanic balladry on November and the mild Mariachi tune Just A Friend Of Mine.

Taken overall, it does gather moss, but that’s to be expected from a man of his vintage./o:p

Max Bell

Max Bell worked for the NME during the golden 70s era before running up and down London’s Fleet Street for The Times and all the other hot-metal dailies. A long stint at the Standard and mags like The Face and GQ kept him honest. Later, Record Collector and Classic Rock called.