Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Jamming With Edward! - Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, Nicky Hopkins & Ry Cooder (1972)
Released January 1972
The material on this album dates from The Rolling Stones' "Let It Bleed" sessions from 1969. It contains six loose jam sessions performed by the band, plus pianist Nicky Hopkins and guitarist Ry Cooder, while waiting for Keith Richards to return to the studio. The story goes that he had walked out, unhappy about Cooder's presence. Whether this is apocryphal will never be known, but Keith also had initial problems when Mick Taylor appeared on the later sessions for the same album.
Mick Jagger said of it - "I hope you spend longer listening to it than we did recording it...". It was laid down on one alcohol-loosened evening in London. It is, therefore a fans' curio - inessential to many but interesting none the less. I certainly am unwilling to write it off as a fair few reviewers have done over the years. Firstly, I quite like jams. I like George Harrison's and Eric Clapton's from the early seventies. Secondly, one thing that hits you is just how great the sound quality is, especially for such an ad hoc creation. It was, of course, never intended for release. I actually find it provides a nice breath of fresh air to listen to every now and again, particularly while doing something else.
1. The Boudoir Stomp
2. It Hurts Me Too
3. Edward's Thrump Up
4. Blow With Ry
5. Interlude A La El Hopo
6. Highland Fling
"The Boudoir Stomp" recycles the "Midnight Rambler" riff, with accompanying similar blues harmonica. It sounds very like the middle instrumental bit from "Rambler", to be honest. "It Hurts Me Too" features a muffled, distant Jagger vocal and can be listened to as a bona fide song. It is a cover of an Elmore James blues song, delivered in that typical slow, grinding blues rock style. "Edward's Thrump Up" is a solid jam featuring Hopkins' rollicking piano (Hopkins was "Edward", by the way). Some good harmonica on this one too.
You cannot deny the quality of Ry Cooder's blues guitar on "Blow With Ry". Watt's drums are loose and relaxed. I really like this. Jagger again contributes a detached-sounding vocal which has echoes of "Parachute Woman" about it. "Interlude A La El Hopo" is a jaunty but ultimately pointless couple of minutes. Hopkins rocks the traditional Scottish "Highland Fling" tune on piano before it morphs into a sort of jazz meets rock workout. I bet Charlie Watts enjoyed this. Bill Wyman's bass on this is delicious. Throwaway it may be, but these guys can play, as obviously we all know. Many bands may well have stuck a couple of these instrumentals on their albums. Santana were doing it all the time in the late seventies/eighties, and Jeff Beck too.
Casual Stones fans will probably not get much out of this release but anyone with an interest in the band's minutiae will enjoy it, I think. Just as many did so with the material from The Beatles' "White Album" sessions. I reiterate, as well, the sound is bloomin' marvellous!
- February 26, 2019