Picks and Pans Review: Willie and the Poor Boys

updated 08/05/1985 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/05/1985 01:00AM

Willie and the Poor Boys

Back in 1972 the rhythm section of the Rolling Stones, bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts, participated in a freewheeling session that resulted in the LP Jamming With Edward. That record really belonged to its principals, Mick Jagger, guitarist Ry Cooder and pianist Nicky Hopkins. Well, now the boys in the back, Wyman and Watts, have organized their own impromptu clambake. Willie and the Poor Boys (the name, slightly misspelled, comes from a 1969 Creedence Clearwater Revival album title), like Jamming, is casual but interesting as a change of pace. All except one of the tracks are covers of antediluvian rockers; Wyman describes the styles represented as "Cajun, swing and boogie," encompassing composers from Chuck Berry to Clifton Chenier. But to praise Wyman and his pals for the song selection is analogous to rating a chef on the basis of his shopping skills. Willie and his Poor Boys in fact do an injustice to a lot of the raw material. The performances are stilted enough to conjure up a subgenre called Rockawilliam. The singing is diffident (except for Paul Rodger's stunning turn on Otis Redding's These Arms of Mine). A sense of fun comes across only on rollicking versions of Little Richard's Slippin' and Slidin' and Amos Milburn's Chicken Shack Boogie. This remembrance of tunes past was in any case put together for a good cause. Profits go for research on multiple sclerosis. (Passport)

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