Mad Lad: A Live Tribute To Chuck Berry

Ronnie Wood & His Wild Five

BMG, 2019

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Ronnie Wood has been a member of The Rolling Stones for 44 years and prior to that, a part of Faces and the Jeff Beck Group. The first two made him a double inductee into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

His solo career has been a little more haphazard, albums appearing when he has some extra time on his hands. His new release is my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Mad Lad: A Live Tribute To Chuck Berry. The instrumental backing is basic; Ben Walters (keyboards), Dion Egtved (bass), Dexter Hercules (drums), Antti Snellman & Tom Waters (saxophones on five tracks), and singer Ismelda May.

The album was recorded live at the Tivoli Theater, Dorset, which is probably the way the music of Chuck Berry should be heard. Ronnie Wood is one the great living rock guitarists and the lack of a second .guitar on stage puts him front and center.

The album is a combination of Berry’s well-known hits, some of his lesser known blues songs, an original “Tribute To Chuck Berry,” and a cover of “Worried Man Blues,” which Berry used to play on stage.

It all adds up to primarily a Ronnie Wood guitar album, which uses the music of Chuck Berry as a starting point. The straight blues tunes “Blue Feeling” and “Worried Life Blues” present a different Wood. Here he is outside his rock and roll comfort zone and shows why he is a suburb musician, no matter what the style. Add in “Mad Lad,” which is a basic Ronnie Wood primer, and you have the makings of an excellent guitar album.

While the better known songs “Back In The USA,” “Little Queenie,” and “Johnny B Goode” feature competent vocals by Wood; it is his subtle guitar runs that drive the performances. When Ismelda May shares the lead vocals on “Wee Wee Hours,” the vocals are front and center.

Sometimes the best albums are created simply and this is especially true with live releases. Mad Lad: A Tribute To Chuck Berry” finds a re-invigorated Ronnie Wood doing what he does best.

Rating: A-

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