Bobby Keys, Command Performance . . . Longtime Rolling Stones’ saxophone player Bobby Keys kicks us off with a funky tune from his 1972 all-instrumental solo album. It featured a who’s who of players including George Harrison and Ringo Starr, Dave Mason of Traffic and solo fame, Leslie West, Corky Laing and Felix Pappalardi of Mountain, Beatles’ solo album collaborator and bassist Klaus Voorman, Stones’ session and 1970s tour trumpet player Jim Price, Cream’s Jack Bruce and session star to the Stones and other artists, pianist Nicky Hopkins.
Tim Ries, Paint It Black . . . From the first of two “Tim Ries Rolling Stones Project’ albums, released in 2005. The album is made up of jazz and jazz-rock reinventions of Stones songs, put together by Ries, a latter-day tenor saxophonist in the Stones’ touring band. Paint It Black is a 10-minute instrumental jazz take on the Stones’ classic. It starts with the 1966 hit’s recognizable riff, takes flight with a long middle section before closing with the original riff. It’s one of the few of the album’s 11 tracks not to feature any members of The Rolling Stones or their various recent collaborators/touring band members. Backup singers Lisa Fischer and Bernard Fowler, bassist Darryl Jones plus Stones members Keith Richards, Ron Wood and Charlie Watts all appear, together and individually, on various selections.
Charlie Watts and Jim Keltner, Art Blakey . . . From the Charlie Watts-Jim Keltner Project, a collaboration between the late Stones drummer and session ace drummer/percussionist Keltner, released in 2000. Each of the album’s tracks are named after famous jazz-oriented drummers.
Quicksilver Messenger Service, Edward, The Mad Shirt Grinder (featuring Nicky Hopkins) . . . From Quicksilver’s 1969 Shady Grove album on which session man to the stars, including the Stones, Hopkins was actually a full-fledged Quicksilver band member. This epic track showcases “Edward’s” keyboard talents, Edward being a nickname bestowed on Hopkins by original Rolling Stone Brian Jones. Jones, the story goes, was tuning his guitar and wanted an ‘E’ note from Hopkins, on piano, during a 1967 recording session. But due to other studio noise, Hopkins couldn’t hear Jones properly so the guitarist yelled out “Give me an E, like in Edward!”
Bill Wyman, Nuclear Reactions . . . A buddy of mine, after I played Wyman rcently, called him ‘a barnacle on the Stones’. So I thought I’d torture my pal, again. This one’s from Wyman’s self-titled 1982 synth-pop/new wave album that featured Si Si (Je Suis un Rock Star), which made the top 10 singles lists in various countries.
Hopkins/Cooder/Jagger/Wyman/Watts, Highland Fling . . . From Jamming With Edward, “a nice piece of bullshit’ according to Mick Jagger’s liner notes, that the assembled musicians – Nicky Hopkins (Edward), Ry Cooder, Jagger, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts – put together while waiting for Keith Richards to return to the studio during 1969’s Let It Bleed sessions. Richards and Cooder didn’t get along, at least at the time, which apparently accounted for Richards’ absence. Cooder, meantime, accused the Stones of stealing some of his licks, calling them “a reptilian bunch of people.” Richards has been up front about Cooder teaching him open-G guitar tuning, a prominent feature of the subsequent Stones sound on such tracks as Gimme Shelter, Brown Sugar and Start Me Up. Jamming With Edward didn’t see the light of day until its release in 1972.
Billy Preston, That’s The Way God Planned It . . Live version from George Harrison’s 1971 Concert for Bangladesh show and album. Preston, of course, played with The Beatles on their Let It Be album, on several of their post-breakup solo albums and was essentially a member of the Stones from Sticky Fingers through the Black and Blue album, both in studio and on tour.
Mick Taylor, Spanish/A Minor . . . Long, bluesy instrumental cut, with a nod to one of Taylor’s finest Stones’ moments, Time Waits For No One. The track appeared on Taylor’s self-titled 1979 debut solo album, five years after he left the Stones.
Keith Richards, Whip It Up . . . From Richards’ solo debut album, Talk Is Cheap, 1988.
Mick Jagger with The Red Devils, Checkin’ Up On My Baby . . . A Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller) tune Jagger did with the California blues band. While working on what became his 1993 solo album Wandering Spirit, Jagger recorded several blues standards with The Red Devils, ostensibly for a possible album but only Checkin’ Up On My Baby eventually was released, on The Very Best of Mick Jagger compilation that came out in 2007. The seeds of a great blues covers album were obviously there.
Ron Wood, Sure The One You Need . . . Mick and Keith wrote and gave this one to Ronnie before he was even in the band. It appeared on Wood’s first solo effort, I’ve Got My Own Album To Do. The album features various members of the Faces and the Stones, including Mick Taylor, who was soon replaced by Wood. For my money, it’s tied with 1992’s check Slide On This as Woody’s best solo record.
New Barbarians (Ron Wood, Keith Richards and friends), Sweet Little Rock ‘n’ Roller (live) . . . Chuck Berry tune that opened most Barbarians shows during the band’s short but spirited life and 1979 tour that included the combined Keith Richards/Stones benefit for the blind concert in Oshawa, Ontario, Richards’ penance for his 1977 drug bust in Toronto. Still amazed that I managed to get tickets and attend the first of the two shows that April afternoon in Oshawa’s 5,000-seat hockey arena.
Keith Richards, Will But You Won’t . . . He is, after all, known as the riff master. From Richards’ second solo album, Main Offender, released in 1992.
Mick Jagger, Evening Gown . . . Jagger is great at ballads like these, whether in the Stones or solo. I’ve selected a series of them, as you’ll see/hear. This one’s from 1993’s Wandering Spirit album, the most Stones-like of his solo releases.
Keith Richards, Yap Yap . . . You talk too much, the lyric goes. Probably talking about Mick.
Mick Jagger, Hang On To Me Tonight . . . Another of those great ballads. I like ’em, anyway. From Wandering Spirit.
Ron Wood & Bo Diddley, They Don’t Make Outlaws Like They Used To (live) . . . From a 1987 show at the Ritz, New York that came out on Live At The Ritz in 1988. A mixture of Bo Diddley, Faces, Stones and solo songs, it made No. 40 in Japan.
Mick Jagger, Party Doll . . . Best song, to me, this ballad from Jagger’s critically-panned 1987 Primitive Cool album. The thing with Jagger solo albums is that, aside from Wandering Spirit, they’re not like Stones albums – because they’re solo albums – so if that’s what people are expecting, going in, chances are their judgments are going to be based on that with the risk being perhaps not granting the work an open-minded listen. I, too, prefer Stones-like material, but repeat listens reveal Primitive Cool, for all its 1980s overly slick production and so on, to be not nearly as bad as the savaging it took upon release. Songs like War Baby, Kow Tow, Peace For The Wicked, the title cut, among others, are pretty good. But Jagger didn’t help himself by releasing Let’s Work, likely the album’s weakest cut, as the lead single.
Ron Wood, Must Be Love . . . From Slide On This, Wood’s excellent 1992 album. It came during a fertile period 1992-93 period, solo-wise, from the Stones. Wood had this album, Keith Richards released Main Offender, also in 1992 and Mick Jagger followed with Wandering Spirit in 1993. All were released once the band realized that solo albums needn’t be a source of friction between them, especially Jagger and Richards, but possible fuel for future band collaborations. The result was 1994’s Voodoo Lounge, one of the group’s best latter-day albums.
Marianne Faithfull, Sister Morphine . . . Twelve-inch single version of the song she co-wrote with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and released as a Faithfull single, produced by Jagger, in 1969. The Stones’ own version, featuring slide guitar from Ry Cooder, was recorded during the Let It Bleed album sessions in 1969 but didn’t appear until 1971’s Sticky Fingers album. This Faithfull version appeared on expanded editions of her 1979 album, Broken English.
Marianne Faithfull, Why D’Ya Do It? . . . My pick for the most vitriolic, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned songs/lyrics ever. It was absolutely jarring to hear on first listen. From the Broken English album.
Keith Richards, You Don’t Move Me . . . Well, that’s why I did it, you don’t move me anymore. Actually, it’s a shot at Mick Jagger, during the so-called mid-1980s World War III between the Stones’ leaders, and appeared on Richards’ first solo album, Talk Is Cheap, in 1988.