You may have wondered what became of the former Rolling Stones bassist since he left the group in the mid 90’s. This five cd set will give you a partial answer; it contains all four Rhythm Kings releases he recorded from 1998 to 2001, including a double album. Taken as a whole, these discs cut through a wide swath of musical genres.
Listening to the 66 tunes included here, brings to mind the Gary U.S. Bonds song, “New Orleans”: “Come on everybody take a trip with me, down the Mississippi down to New Orleans….. come on take a stroll down to Basin Street, and listen to the music with the Dixieland beat.” The Rhythm Kings stir that melting pot where gospel, blues, ragtime, Dixieland, r&b, and rock and roll come together..
Wyman, now 74, is an author of a history of the blues, and the songs reflect music’s journey up the Mississippi from New Orleans to Chicago and Detroit and beyond during the early part of the last century, including tunes by Willie Dixon, Nat King Cole, JB Lenoir, Jerome Kern, and Fats Waller.
Even some of the songs Wyman wrote (23 0f the 66), were written in early jazz and blues styles, and they fit seamlessly with the originals. “I discovered that I could write songs in the old styles….the way the instrumentation sounded, the way people sang. And in the end (it) would sound like a song from the 30’s, 40’s, or 50’s. It’s almost like an archeological dig into music.”
Not forgetting the music that was around when Wyman and the Stones were forming their sound, there are also covers of many 60’s classics, CCR’s “Green River”, Lovin’ Spoonfuls “Daydream, Dan Hicks “Walking One & Only”, Classic IV’s “Spooky”, and “Tobacco Road”.
Helping him on his journey through the waters of American music is an impressive list of sidemen, Georgie Fame, Gary Brooker (Procul Harum), Mark Knopfler, and former Stones Mick Taylor and sideman Nicky Hopkins. Wyman also called on old mates Eric Clapton and George Harrison (in one of his final recordings before his death).
Wyman has no plans to tour much beyond his home base, but seemingly is staying busy. Rumors are circulating that he has been invited by Keith Richards to join with other Stones, current and former, prior to their 50th anniversary next year. He has also recorded several programs for Sirius XM radio, and is curating an exhibition of his photography, as well as having recently finished a 3 week Rhythm Kings tour that included former Supreme Mary Wilson.
These discs could easily serve as a primer on the development of early jazz up through the 1960’s and may make a welcome gift for the lover of the eclectic in music.