Ron Wood – Pretty Beat Up (Swingin’ Pig TSP-CD-154)

 Pretty Beat Up (Swingin’ Pig TSP-CD-154)

Show Me / Flying / Testify / Pretty Beat Up / Always Wanted More / Breathe On Me / Silicone Grown / Black Limousine / Little Red Rooster / Stay With Me ( 49:48 )

Following the large tours of the late 80’s & early 90’s, the Stones took a little time off to seek out other avenues. As Keith pointed out in his autobiography this wasn’t completely how it was meant to be, but for Mick’s apparent ego the band might have been touring for a little longer. Regardless of any after thought missives, the band spent their time wisely – Charlie changed tack to release 2 jazz albums, Mick released his third solo album, Keith his second & Ronnie, his fifth. Bill, however, was no longer part of the group having left after the last tour & was following his own path with his own band.

Ronnie’s “Slide On This” was a moderate success at the time, selling 58,000 copies in the U.S. while still failing to chart. The draw of his tenement of being in the Jeff Beck group, the Faces & then the Stones, that & the minor success of his previous albums was enough to pique people’s interest in the album. The shows, however, were the place to be – Ronnie is an exuberant performer & surrounded by the same, could easily cast out out an effervescent, party styled show.

This F.M. radio broadcast is brilliant quality & sounds almost like you could be stood anywhere in the venue. A nice wide stereo & well up to the standard we came to expect of the original Swingin’ Pig label. This particular show would later be picked up on for parts of Ronnie’s second live album “Live & Eclectic” – A name that should mean more than it does, it’s certainly live but as for eclectic then, no. As sparing as Ronnie’s playing is then it’s hardly as wide ranging as that but thats not to say the show isn’t a good draw. The players are obviously versed heavily in their music so while they may not branch out too far they pretty much hit the nail on the head.

“Show Me” from the current album spearheads the set & tumbles out with a solidly heavy driving beat while Ronnie chops at his guitar & fellow ex – Face Ian McLagan holds the addition of a groovy, boogie – woogie piano. Ronnie’s wicked sense of humour adds to the joviality in the venue as he promises the radio listeners that the band were, indeed, playing naked that night.

The band hardly stop for a breath or swig of beer before flowing straight in to the Faces “Flying” as Bernard Fowler takes over on vocals. Bernard’s voice is a lot smoother than Ron’s & takes the place of Rod Stewart’s in singing some more of the earlier Ron co-writes.

“Pretty Beat Up” is the next choice, were it not for the fact that it was, again, a song that Ron co-wrote, this time with the Glimmer Twins rom the almost ignored now, if warmly received at the time, Stones album “Undercover” from 1983 it may not have made the set list however it fits in well with the rest of the grooving although the sound fits firmly in to the early 80’s sound of the Stones that had been given the flick by this stage for a more contemporary style.

A more Stones styled but solo effort is “Always Wanted More”, from the current album, which sounds very much like “Can’t Always Get What You Want” ( This is pretty much reflected by the lyrics in a round about way. ) From the charming sweep of the initial chords down to the piano glides via the chorus, the song presents itself as a near perfect partner to the ‘Beggars Banquet’ track & it certainly sounds a lot more successful in being an all-round classically styled track than it’s predecessor.

After a very simple duet on “Breathe On Me”, a song that starts bare bones only to rumble up towards a pounding power ballad, follows one of the older Faces tunes “Silicone Grown”. An unkind rocker that Ron & Rod ( Stewart ) wrote together. The lyrics are the standard boyish – Stewart write up, very possibly about a conquest of his youth or the bands touring. The lyrics only make sense if you were there of course but the tune is a brilliant jangle, pub rock bluster once again with Fowler taking the mantle of Rod’s voice.

Ronnie introduces ‘Black Limousine as “Another one .. blah, blah, blah” as off handed as just another track. The ‘Tattoo You’ track has fared much better than ‘Pretty Beat Up’ as it sounds more like the stones of old but as that album was essentially a blend of outtakes & scraps by the band with no direction formed between the individual tracks then it could have come from any point ( the fact that it was a Wood co-write does nothing to dampen the fact that it essentially sounds like an exclusive Jagger – Richards composition. )

The show ends after a brief introduction by the M.C. & as Ronnie asks Chuck Levele to bring the piano in to Willie Dixon’s ‘Little Red Rooster’. Blues in it’s rawest form, it has the chops of the band stretching themselves out. Exquisite soloing beds the middle of the song solidly while a little bit of harp playing segways through the soloing. This eventually drops straight in to the grand finale of the CD and it is, quite simply, hair raising. A blistering romp through the faces biggest hit “Stay With Me”.

Everything is thrown in the the rendition from the woozy, bed room antics & night time shenanigans that the band intro seems to suggest through to the laddish bravado of suggesting that the conquest make herself scarce. The track is played & sung at double time & almost flies through charging between very fast & much faster. The band play note perfectly while taking a couple of brief asides to show case their own playing. Bernard’s Stewart-isms are pretty much perfect. We’re not left to enjoy the applause though as the Pig fade their source out pretty damn sharpish.

The cover is a straight up affair – essentially all with with a boarded picture of Ronnie on stage. The lettering is casual & almost hand written but printed in gold which elevates the packaging to looking like something just that little more expensive.

The who thing, despite the short running time, is a good addition to your solo Stones collection. Not many commercial bootleggers would take a chance on a Ron Wood bootleg nowadays but if they were all like these then they might.

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