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Those Swinging Kings of Rhythm
The Rhythm Kings deliver rock & soul

by Timothy Tilghman

    Bootleg Kings - Live In Europe is one of two live discs available online at exclusively. This first volume was released in April 2000. What began as a musical hobby for Bill Wyman has now become a touring sensation across England and Europe. The Rhythm Kings appeared stateside on a Summer 2001 U.S. Tour.

    Five of the nine tracks originate from a performance on October 21, 1998, at the Vega Club in Copenhagen, Denmark. This disc features Gary Brooker on vocals & piano, Georgie Fame on vocals & organ, Albert Lee on vocals & guitar, Beverley Skeete on vocals, Keeley Coburn and Melanie Redmond on backing vocals, Martin Taylor on guitar, Nick Payn on horns, Graham Broad on drums, and Bill Wyman on bass.

    "Mystery Train" is a rollicking tune sung by Georgie Fame recorded on stage at Le Bataclan in Paris, France on October 12. Frank Payn plays a humorous harmonica part in this song, imitating a train whistle. I was a member of the audience for this performance, my second Rhythm Kings concert on their 1998 Fall European Tour.

    Gary Brooker opens "Hit The Road Jack/Fever" on lead vocals joined by Beverley Skeete. This medley also features Georgie Fame singing a portion of "Fever", during the extend live jam from the Vega Club before Gary and Beverley return. Payn turns in a curious holiday saxophone solo.

    "Georgia On My Mind" was performed on Bill Wyman's 62nd birthday in Oslo, Norway, on October 24. Georgie Fame sings this classic Hoagy Carmichael song accompanied only by Martin Taylor on electric guitar. This is one of the standout numbers in their concert cannon.

    "Good Golly Miss Molly" is a bouncy rocker recorded at the Train Club in Copenhagen, Denmark, on October 20. Gray Brooker pounds the ivories and belts out of his vocals on this 1956 Little Richard classic. Payn wails away on the sax for a trip down rock'n'roll memory lane.

    Albert Lee sings lead vocals on "Tear It Up", another Rhythm Kings performance highpoint. The dueling electric guitar solos during the bridge feature both Albert Lee and Martin Taylor trying to outplay each other, another number from the Vega Club. Their combined incendiary guitar firepower is tremendous. This jaunty rocker closes out the first disc of the Bootleg Kings series.

    As luck would have it, I shook hands with Bill Wyman outside Le Bataclan as he was getting into his tour van. However, the Dutch audience at the Paradisco in Amsterdam, the night before on Ocotber 11, were more enthusiastic in their appreciation of the Rhythm Kings on stage. This chance meeting with Wyman enabled me to greet him backstage at the Anvil in Basingstoke on their 1999 Summer U.K. Tour.

    To date, the Rhythm Kings have released four studio albums as well as Bootleg Kings - Ride Again, a second live volume in May 2001. As the story goes, Wyman heard some bootleg recordings of his Rhythm Kings and decided to release a collection of live tracks from the 1998 European tour. Both Dirt Boys productions were available for purchase at tour merchandise counters.

    Bill Wyman joined The Rollin' Stones on bass guitar in December 1962. He began his music career as a guitarist for The Cliftons in 1961. His love of R&B has taken him on a musical journey that did not end with his departure from the Rolling Stones. Wyman had a desire to record and perform the music he enjoys most. This lead to the formation of the Rhythm Kings.

    Wyman's last performance with the Rolling Stones was on August 25, 1990, during the European Urban Jungle Tour on the Steels Wheels stage in London at Wembley Stadium. Bill failed to post at the video shoot for "Highwire" in 1991. However, he did not officially announce his retirement until January 6, 1993. In 1997, Wyman dusted off his bass by playing a handful of dates. Since 1998, the Rhythm Kings have been regularly touring either in Europe or England.

    Because of three excellent Rhythm Kings reviews I forwarded to last year, I received a 2001 European Rhythm Kings Tour Programme autographed by everyone pictured in the program as a congratulatory prize for those concert reviews. RockonTour thanks both Bill Wyman and Steve Wyman for their kind recognition.

RockonTour   Issue #7
Concert Fan - the Single Source for the Concertphile © 2002 RoT