A few years after bassist Bill Wyman left the Rolling Stones in the early '90s, he formed his own group, the Rhythm Kings. Instead of cranking out formulaic rock ‘n’ roll hits, Wyman decided to cut back on touring, use more spontaneity in recording, and focus on roots music. For more information on Wyman and the formation of the Kings, read my interview with him: Interview: Bill Wyman - The Legendary bassist on The Rhythm Kings. Four of the group’s CDs (Anywhere the Wind Blows, Struttin’ Our Stuff, Groovin’, and Double Bill) spanning the years 1998 to 2001 have just been re-released as the five-disc Collector’s Edition Box Set.
Of course, Bill Wyman can pretty much get whoever he wants to play with him. The Rhythm Kings lineup includes:
- Georgie Fame, the well-known singer and keyboard player who had a string of hits in the ‘60s.
- Vocalist Beverley Skeete, who has performed with Elton John, Sting, Chaka Khan, and The Eurythmics.
- Albert Lee, the guitar virtuoso, who focuses on country and rockabilly-oriented material.
- Jazz/solo guitarist Martin Taylor.
- Pianist Dave Hartley, best-known for his work with Sting.
- Drummer Graham Broad, who has performed with Roger Waters, Tina Turner, and the Beach Boys.
Additionally, guest artists such as Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton, George Harrison, and Gary Brooker (the founder of Procol Harum) have played with the group—all-in-all, not a bad lineup.
Wyman’s always been known as a man with wide-ranging interests, and his musical choices reflect this. Selections range from '60s hits (Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Green River," the Rascals’ “Groovin’”) to swing (“Hit That Jive, Jack,” “The Joint is Jumping”) to blues (“I Put a Spell on You,” & “I’m Mad”). Original songs by Wyman and other band members try to capture the feeling of a particular genre.
Some of the selections are little-known or forgotten gems. These include “My Handyman," first performed by Ethel Waters, and “Hole in My Soul" by Sasha Burland. A minor complaint: It would be helpful to have some of the stories behind the songs in the liner notes. Oh, well—I guess that’s what the Internet is for.