Ronnie Wood - Anthology - The Essential Crossexion

It is annoying to think that Ronnie Wood is considered the "new boy" in the Rolling Stones, having joined the band in 1974, after the departure of Mick Taylor, and despite being approximately five years younger than the rest of the band his recording career began more or less the same time. This 2 CD anthology features tracks from all stages of his career both solo and as amember of various bands, one or two of which didnt do badly at all. One CD is devoted to his solo work while the other focuses on his group work, both CDs chronologically sequencing the tracks.

As previously stated Ronnie began his career in 1964 as a member of the Birds (not to be confused with the US group which was spelt Byrds). The groups first single coupled Woods own composition inspired by fellow London group the Yardbirds "You're On My Mind" with Bo Diddley's "You Don't Love Me". The groups second single is probably the better of the two, the A Side being a good version of a little known Marvin Gaye songe "No Good Without You Baby" while the B-side featured Woods own composition "How Can It Be" which found the group experimenting with feedback sounds similar to records of the early Who. Woods next group in 1968 was The Creation, who Alan McGee named his record label after. Their single "Midway Down" backed with the interestingly titled "The Girls Are Naked" benefited from the producing skills of Shel Talmy, an American who had come to the UK presumably to get a bit of "swinging london"

Woods next venture was the ground breaking Jeff Beck Group in which he played bass as Beck was one of the best guitarists of the time. The singer in the jeff Beck Group was someone who vaguelly knew Ronnie, and was to become one of his best mates and go on to further musical adventures - one Rod Stewart. In some people's opinion The Jeff Beck Group were the first heavy rock band although fans of Led Zepellin may differ. Whatever the two albums the group produced were groundbreaking and the tracks featured here like the early funk treatment they give to Chicago Blues giant Willie Dixon's "I Ain't Supersticious" or the reworkings of Elvis Presley's "All Shook Up" and "Jailhouse Rock" were unchartered territory at the time.

When the Jeff Beck group fell apart Ronnie Wood and Rod Stewart joined forces with the three quarters of the Small Faces whoe were left behind when Steve Marriot formed Humble Pie. So with Ronnie Lane on bass, Ian McLagan on keyboards and Kenny Jones on drums The Faces were born, one of the best live bands around in the early 70s and a band that seemed to be the opposite of the prevailing trends in rock at the time in that they did not take themselves too seriously, they would kick footballs about on stage and would have drunk several bottles of wine beforehand. That is not to say they were incapable of putting on a good show, they were considered in the same league as The Rolling Stones or The Who as a live act. In addition to the five Faces tracks including the hit single "Stay With Me" there are three Rod Stewart solo tracks including the ever popular "Maggie May". Of course the success of Stewarts solo work which was released at the same time as The Faces led to the eventual break up, which opened the way for Wood to be recruited into the Rolling Stones after the departure of Mick Taylor. the two stones tracks features are the funk "Everything Is Turning TO Gold". One of those forays into dance music the band indulges in occassionaly and the blues of "Black Limousine" both from 1981 and both those rare tunes when the name Wood appears with the names Jagger / Richards on the writing credits.

Starting in 1974, Wood has released five solo albums when not involved in group activities. The albums all feature some excellent material and makes you wonder why he is so content to be a sideman. Wood has never been short of people to collaborate with him. Apart from people like Keith Richards and others from the Stones camp like sax player Bobby Keys and singer Bernard Fowler, Wood has worked with George Harrison, David Bowie, Edge, Anita Pointer and Booker T & The MGS as well as his son and daughter, and his new mate from a younger generation Kelly Jones of the Stereophonics.

The styles reange from the Jamaican influenced "I Can Feel The Fire", the countrified "Cancel Everything", a tender rendition of soul man Bobby Womacks "If You Don't Want My Love" who also inspired Wood to write "Fountain Of Love", one of the solo discs best tracks. Another highlight is the electro funk of "Somebody Else Might". A glimpse into the future is given in the final two tracks, the feelgood "Little Mixed Up" and "You Strum and I'll Sing" featuring Rod stewart, both tracks from a forthcoming album

Derek McCann

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