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NOT FOR BEGINNERS (RONNIE WOOD, 2001)
*Click for ROLLING STONES SOLO DISCOGRAPHY
Nov. 19, 2001: Release of NOT FOR BEGINNERS, Ronnie Wood’s sixth solo album.
Not For Beginners was released in 2001 and features Ronnie Wood’s artwork on the front cover. Written and produced by Ronnie, it is comprised of ten original Wood compositions and three covers including Dylan’s ‘King of Kings’, which features the great man himself on guitar. Also present are Wood’s long term collaborators Ian McLagan and bassist Willie Weeks, plus world-renowned drummer D.J. Fontana, Stereophonics vocalist Kelly Jones, Ronnie’s son Jesse on guitar, and daughter Leah on vocals.
Rock’n Roll Star
This Little Heart
R U Behaving Yourself?
Wake Up You Beauty
Real Hard Rocker
Heart, Soul and Body
King of Kings
On his first solo album in nearly a decade, Ron Wood recruits some of his friends, acquaintances, and former co-workers for a throwaway disc of studio rave-ups and questionably chosen covers. Ian McLagan, Andy Newmark, Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, and most notably, Bob Dylan lend rhythm, voices, and more to Wood’s own instrumental leads and scratchy vocals. Unfortunately, the lineup is just about the only thing that’s surprising or even good about the album. Whether stumbling through the Byrds’ “Rock n’ Roll Star” or tripping over Holland-Dozier-Holland’s “Leaving Here,” Wood is an awkward frontman and bandleader. Only when his guitar does the talking for him — like on “Wayside” or Dylan’s “King of Kings” — does Not for Beginners actually sound like a record made by a guy who makes tons of money playing in one of the world’s most legendary bands.
This is a warm little album driven by subtle guitar playing so devoid of Rolling Stones–style bombast (in itself not a bad thing) that if you were blindfolded, you’d never guess at Ronnie Wood’s day job. He opens with an instrumental on which he plays his acoustic slide guitar lap-steel style; the result is marvelously laid-back and melodic. And he closes with another acoustic instrumental — a duet with Bob Dylan on the great songwriter’s own “King of Kings.”
Wood presses his daughter Leah into service as a singer, and that’s a good idea, because his own wizened croak doesn’t pass easily — on numbers like “This Little Heart,” he’s much more adept at harmonizing with his strings. Wood’s son Jessie also appears, on guitar, along with the great R&B session bassist Willie Weeks and — on “Interfere” — Elvis Presley’s original teammates, Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana. This number sidesteps early rock for a gentle, countrified jazz-blues feel, with Wood playing second guitar to Moore’s crystalline melody and Fontana keeping his sticks in the slow groove. Even the aptly named “Real Hard Rocker” never overreaches, despite Wood’s dirty rhythm chords, keening slide, and tough harmonica. It’s also his best vocal performance, delivered more as a lowdown narrative than sung. All of which makes this album an unpredictable pleasure — and more soulful than anything Keith and Mick have generated in a while.
Some folks want to be Mick. Some want to be Keith. Back in my drumming days, I used to want to be Charlie. But now that I think about it, I’d really like to be Ronnie Wood. Think about it: Every few years he makes a new album with The Rolling Stones, globe-trots around the world on a private jet, and then comes back home towing a barge full of money. Not bad for a guy whose own creative output generally averages about a song a year and an album every decade.
Not For Beginners, the guitarist’s latest soundalike disc, is only his second studio effort in 20 years. And I use the term effort loosely — as always, Woody’s recording strategy seems to consist of ringing up old mates like Bob Dylan (there’s a conversation I’d love to hear), downing a few pints and then lazily jamming away on a few Stonesy groove-rockers, some Faces-style acoustic ballads and chestnuts like Rock N’ Roll Star. Frankly, I bet Ron probably spent more time painting the cover picture than he did recording. Which is just as it should be — after all, you wouldn’t want him to miss his nap, would you?
Categories: Solo Discography