BILL WYMAN – s/t LP (1982)
Hold onto your hats –
Every so often, implant an obscuro album comes along that, even after the thousands you’ve heard previously — even after you think you’ve turned over every last stone of a particular sub-genre — smacks you upside the head and leads you out of the room on a tight leash.
The catch here is that this album’s obscurity is puzzling, given who it’s from. We’re talking Bill Wyman, bassist for the Rolling Stones, of course.
After having sifted through the entire Stones catalogue last year with more than a little bemusement on my brow, I was prepared for this one to be a stinker, upon first learning of it. Didn’t matter that it was told to me that it was “new wave-y.” Guess what — I was completely fucking wrong.
Granted, not every song on the thing is a classic — just half of them.
Longtime readers of ECR know that I’m occasionally prone to hyperbole, over albums that some commenters don’t think make the grade. This is usually due to my excitement, after long last, over hearing something that breaks through the mucous membrane of half-hearted sameness that coats most obscuro releases you’ll find floating throughout the blogosphere. And with Bill Wyman’s early ’80s solo album, you say, how could this be any different than any of the other times I’ve proclaimed something to be utter genius when it isn’t?
Two big reasons: “(Si, Si) Je Suis Un Rock Star” and “Come Back Suzanne”. Ok, perhaps half the album isn’t truly classic, but these two songs certainly are in my mind. They’re undeniably great pieces of pop weirdness, about as cool as anything else from the period, with “Je Suis” cut straight from the Eno/Talking Heads mold, and “Suzanne” being the greatest track Wreckless Eric never recorded.
Other catchy standout moments include “A New Fashion”, “Nuclear Reactions”, “Girls” and the truly wacky “Rio De Janiero”, in which Wyman imagines that the whole of the titular city is just one big happy land of smilng pretty people, playing soccer and kissing in the moonlight (conveniently ignoring the crushing poverty and savagery of life in the favelas.)
Seriously, this album was a real pleasant surprise, and quite a few of its tracks will likely make it into your repeat listening playlists. I hope.