Back To Basics – Bill Wyman (Proper Records) reviewed by Dave Franklin

bill wyman 1 ndBeing a site that deals mainly in new and under the radar music, breaking artists and unsigned acts, to review a solo album by the ex-bassist of one of music history’s biggest bands might seem a bit outside the brief. A case can be made from the fact that it is his first release in 33 years, a time span longer than the current age of many of the acts musicians we write about, so I thought I’d put it under the microscope.

As the name would suggest it is stripped back, rhythmically driven and tipping its hat more to the barroom idioms of the likes of Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen and the uncompromising minimalism of JJ Cale than the big riffing Stones ethic. Wyman vocals may be the acid test for a lot of people, fans of his previous solo albums will already be familiar with the breathy, gruff delivery, newcomers may just feel like Ian Dury had this style covered. It’s a style that does however work for the songs but by the time closing number I Got Time rolls into earshot you may find that it is starting to wear thin and thinking that a bit more dynamic variation may have made things more palatable.

But it is the sort of record Bill Wyman makes, take it or leave it, an album of songs whose qualities don’t jump out at you straight away but which will undoubtedly grow with every successive play. It’s nice to see Wyman return to the musical grind stone after years writing books and pursuing his art, but it may be an album that appeals mainly to Stones completists and Wyman fans rather than a wider audience.

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About Dave Franklin

Musician, scribbler, historian, gnostic, seeker of enlightenment, asker of the wrong questions, delver into the lost archives, fugitive from the law of averages, blogger, quantum spanner, left footed traveller, music journalist, zenarchist, freelance writer, reviewer and gemini. People have woken up to worse.
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