Ronnie Wood has featured regularly in the media over the past decade. If not for his work with The Rolling Stones, then for his many stints in rehab (which is likely to happen when you’re best mates with Keith Richards) and an affair with a Russian waitress 41 years his junior. But unlike the trashy, young popstars who share those glossy magazine pages, Wood hasn’t let his personal life interfere with his interest in making quality music.
The title of his seventh studio album says it all – he just wants to play for the sake of playing.
Similar to Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure, it’s like Wood has gone through rock history, collecting the best musicians from their respective generations. He has enlisted the help of Slash, Flea, Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Bobby Womack and a smorgasbord of vocalists and instrumentalists to recapture the feel and sound of classic ’70s rock ‘n’ roll.
The album opens with Why You Wanna Go And Do A Thing Like That For, which, apart from taking up half my word-count, also sets the tone for the entire album.
The mix of heavy blues and grungy rock guitar are reminiscent of earlier ‘Stones classics, and while guest musicians have given the sound new life, signs of ageing are most obvious in Wood’s smoky and whisky-beaten voice.
Unfortunately, Wood’s voice is the weakest part of his music. The dry, tortured vocals may have some appeal to Bob Dylan fans, but are simply not strong enough to hold up alone. The better tracks are strengthened with guest vocals, including the blues-driven I Gotta See with Billy Fowler and the gospel-backing of Catch You.
‘Stones fans will appreciate Thing About You and Tell Me Somethin’, which are held together with solid guitar work from Wood and friends.
Other notable tracks are Sweetness My Weakness, with a bopping electric riff that sounds a little reggae, and a funked-up cover of Willie Dixon’s over-used blues classic Spoonful.
At the ripe old age of 63, Ronnie Wood is still the youngest member of rock immortals The Rolling Stones, and while this isn’t up with The ‘Stones’ best, it’s a lot better than what they have released as a group in a long time. Well worth a listen for anyone who misses the glory days of rock ‘n’ roll.