Bill Wyman’s The Rhythm Kings – Groovin’ Time (Glimmer Twins Record GT-017)

Groovin’ Time (Glimmer Twins Record GT-017)

Montreux Jazz Festival 2001, Auditorium Stavinsky, Montreux, Switzerland – July 7th, 2001

(47:11):  Jitterbug Boogie, Boom Boom, Melody, I Put A Spell On You, Tell You A Secret, Mystery Train/ Tear It Up, Hole In The Wall

The thirty-fifth Montreux Jazz Festival in 2001 was a tribute to Sun Records’, a celebration of the roots of rock and roll and other indigenous forms of American music.  July 7th featured an amazing bill including Chris Spedding & John Cleary, Brian May & Friends, and headlined by Page & Plant.  The whole show was recorded by Swiss TSR2 TV and shown in parts on November 10th on the program “Festivite.”

Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings played a forty-five minute set before May.  Wyman’s outfit, normally a revolving door of prominent session and famous blues and rock musicians, on this night included Georgie Fame (Hammond b, vocal), Mike Sanchez (piano, vocal), Beverly Skeete (vocal), Janis Hoyte (back voc), Albert Lee (guitar, vocal), Terry Taylor (guitar), Graham Broad (drums), Frank Mead (saxophone) and Nick Payn (saxophone, harmonica).

Groovin’ Time on the Stones dedicated label Glimmer Twins captures the entire set from an excellent stereo DAT audience recording.  It’s as good as all of the audience tapes to surface from the night, and does a good job capturing the blistering show.

Their set begins with “Jitterbug Boogie,” an original which sounds like a cover from a 1940’s standard.  The narrative speaks about the chicken shack so much that, afterwards, Mike Sanchez jokes that the song is the “Chicken Shack Boogie” with appropriate clucking noises. 

Afterwards Wyman himself tells the audience that “a very sad thing happened last week.  Chet Atkins died.  And a few days before that John Lee Hooker died,” and announces a tribute to Hooker by covering “Boom Boom.”  He quips “we only played it one or two times so be nice.”

“Melody,” introduced by Sanchez as a song written by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Billy Preston, is the only Rolling Stones song played in the set.  Beverly Skeete sings the vocals with help from Sanchez who name-checks the members of the band. 

“I Put A Spell On You” is a mellow, laid back cover of the famous song by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins tune.  Lacking the famous histrionics, this is probably closer to the original vision of the song than the over-the-top shocker voted one of the most important songs in the rock canon.   Albert Lee takes a solo on guitar and Frank Mead has a nice sax solo. 

The follow with “Tell You A Secret.”  An original Wyman penned tune from the latest Rhythm King album Groovin’, the live performance is expanded almost to ten minutes with excursions to John Lee Hooker’s “Boogie Chillun'” and Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips” which the Stones covered on Exile On Main Street.  The performance brings down the house afterwards as Sanchez yells “we’re having a party now!!”

Albert Lee serves as “chief engineer” for “Mystery Train,” one of the earliest songs released on SUN Records, and is followed by  “Tear It Up” by Willie And The Poor Boys.  The latter isn’t noted on the artwork because it is tracked with the former.  The liner notes give the impression “Tear It Up” isn’t included, but it is present. 

The final number of the set is Wyman’s own “Hole In The Wall” from the latest album Groovin’

Groovin’ Time is an excellent sounding, scintillating performance worth having.  The packaging is a basic jewel case with various photos of the Rhythm Kings taken from various gigs (including one with Peter Frampton who did not play with the band in Montreux)This is certainly a strange yet interesting release worth having. 

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