Ronnie Wood – ‘Fine and True’ 1974’s I’ve Got My Own Record to Do

by | Mar 10, 2015 | 2 comments

 
Currently spinning in the ‘rock room’ is one of those special rock
records that is held near and dear to those in the know and becomes an amazing
revelation to those who discover it.  In
the ‘rock room’s humble opinion this record is one of the finest LP’s to come
out of the 1970’s and possibly one of the greatest rock albums of all time.
Those who frequent the ‘rock room’ know that I am prone to using the ‘greatest’
moniker frequently, but in the case of this album it completely deserves the
highest praise. Ron Wood’s 1974 debut solo album, I’ve Got My Own Record to Do finds the famed guitarist on his way
out of the ‘Faces’ and sliding into the ‘Rolling Stones’. In between, Wood
recorded the aforementioned solo record with members from both bands and with a
host of friends and fellow musicians at his home studio at ‘The Wick’ in South
London. There is a high and lonesome, low and loose vibe to the record that comes across as clearly today as during the sessions that created it forty years ago.
Recorded over the course of numerous sessions from late 1973
and into summer 1974 the album is a unknown commodity to many. The recording, in fact,
just celebrated its 40th anniversary with no reissue at all in the works in spite
of the definite probability of a multitude of glorious outtakes available. The low key sessions resulted in a relaxed and often amazing collection of songs. With the sturdy rhythm
section of Willie Weeks (bass) and Andy Newmark (drums) on the majority of the
songs, a plethora of legends fill in the cracks including but not limited to
Keith Richards, David Bowie, Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, George Harrison and ‘Faces’ bandmates Ian
McLagan, and Kenney Jones. Keith Richards actually showed up one evening and didn’t leave
for four months, so he should be considered a member of the ‘house band’! The LP is brimming with potential classics and songs that would become the
cornerstones of Woody’s own live shows throughout his career. One thing that is
obvious from the enjoyment of this record is that it is the result of Woody patiently
collecting stray riffs, lyrics and melodies and waiting for the appropriate time to document and share them.
The album opens with thumping drums that pump like an old well
signaling the Ronnie Wood composition, “I Can Feel the Fire’. The sweaty island
groove is driven by the familiar Richards and Wood guitar weaving. The lyrics
are sung by Mick Jagger and Wood trading verses and joining together on
choruses. A careful listen reveals one David Bowie who also lends some well timed
interjections. This song helped initiate Woody into the ‘Rolling Stones’ as it
was the collaboration between Wood and Jagger on this song that also helped to birth
the Stones classic, ‘It’s Only Rock and Roll’. Jagger got help with ‘rock and roll’ and Woody got help with ‘Fire’ and the Stones gained a future guitarist.
The second song on side 1 is a George Harrison composition, ‘Far
East Man’ which also features Hari on slick slide guitar and dreamy backing
vocals. Harrison would also record the song for his own 1974 Dark Horse album, but this version nonetheless contains the mojo. Mick Taylor
takes the bass playing seat, locking in with Newmark on the funky high hat driven
chorus groove. The ‘rock room’ lives for songs like this, tucked away on a
dusty vinyl side waiting patiently for the needle to drop. Harrison’s aforementioned
slide work dresses the song in musical silly string, coloring the structure with
perfect exclamations. The song doesn’t just exist sonically it lives organically.
Keeping the tempo jive and the lights down low, Woody’s ‘Mystifies
Me’ is a high caliber soul ballad featuring Rod Stewart’s rhythm section of
Micky Waller (drums) and Pete Sears (bass) as well as Stewart’s acoustic guitar
playing mate Martin Quittenton. A dispersed and airy arrangement develops with Woody’s
slowly dripping  and watery Curtis
Mayfield central licks pooling around the songs base. Wood sings the shit out of this one, sounding like his
future band mate Keith Richards at points. The chorus discovers Rod Stewart also
singing in gritty harmony and taking the emotional content to an ascendant level. 
In addition, Wood’s ‘Faces’ mate Ian McLagan loans a
transparent sheet of mystical organ laid gently over the track for good measure.
Beautiful. Classic.
‘Take a Look at the Guy’ follows in the same vein as ‘Can
You Feel the Fire’, the song is high tempo, percussive and propellant with a
multitude of rock riffing courtesy of Mick Taylor and Woody. The collaborative
vocals again find Stewart tearing fabric and shattering glass with his diaphragm
push on the chorus. The song climbs the rungs then fades out into an
interesting groove that dissipates way too soon! I wonder if a deluxe edition
of this set would reveal where this interesting eventuality would lead?! A smoking rocker.
‘Take a Look at the Guy’ segues quickly into the mushy Fender Rhodes
introduction of the Jagger/Richards composition ‘Act Together’.  There is a substantial chorus of backing
singers featured here that add to the grandeur and quality of the song. Richards and Wood again
join together on their axes as well as sharing a microphone, chopping angular
funky riffs, crooning earnestly and constructing the body of the song. Richards
also overdubbed some piano allowing for ‘Ian McHooligan’ to fill the empty
space with whistling musical organ glue, lending the song its large secular
feel. The true definition of a Glimmer Twins, ‘lost classic’ thankfully donated to Woody’s musical mission.
The quality first side of the LP concludes with a  hard and deep
thrust cover of ‘Am I Groovin You’ first recorded by Freddie Scott in 1967.
Here Richards and Wood slash the beat into ribbons, while alternating abrasive and chunky chording.
McLagan lends the deep black groan of an ARP synth that injects the song with a
guttural growl. This song is what one might have referred to as a ‘panty peeler’ back in the day, but we will not say that too loudly. Wood
has slowed down the original version of the song to the tempo of a clogged
drain. The song marinates its respective groove in the perfume of the songs
subject,  her hair mussed while Jagger, Richards and Wood beg the question, ‘Am I
Groovin You?’
The flip side of the record begins auspiciously with the
Wood composition, ‘Shirley’. The song is uniquely arranged with spiky guitar
and some tubular sound wave keyboards. Once the track settles in with Mick
Taylor’s bass, Woody plays some of his most intense licks on the record. During the mid
section of the track Woody proceeds to throw a ball down the stairwell, bounding into some joyous reverberant
riffing. His overdriven guitar touches the burned edges of distortion while also
running concurrent with McLagan’s keyboard for well timed dual quotes that blend into a
sugary sweet rendition of the songs melody line. This tune sets the theme for the entire second side which feels much more like an unbuttoned jam session and lends the
listener an ear to the outside door of the sessions. The cigarette smoke, laughter and
assorted powders are tangible through the aural spread. Witness to this effect
are the swaying arm in arm group vocals that make up much of the
second side’s singing.
 
‘Cancel Everything’ comes next, another concealed classic
from the pen of Ronnie Wood. Painted over in a florescent highlighter, Keith
Richards backing vocals on this song are wonderful and easily initiate a shiver and a
smile. Fantastic stuff. The track settles into a slot like an intentional gutter ball becoming a
high tempo plea to just save some time for one another. This time Jean Rousell
shakes the keys lending the song a twinkling beauty that contrasts the edgy
guitars coming from Richards and Wood. 
‘Sure the One You Need’ is the second compositional donation by
Jagger/Richards and offers another chance for the band to boogie and also for Keith
Richards to take a lead vocal. McLagan bangs on the black and whites like a cop
responding to a house party. Woody gives us some neck as the two guitar blend
gives this a long lost ‘Stones’ feel….I wonder why?
The LP then reaches its conclusion with a duo of cover songs, the first, ‘If
You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody’ is a song made popular by James Ray, who took it to
the R and B charts in 1962. The song feels tailor made for Wood’s group the ‘Faces’,
who could take a classic R and B cover and make it uniquely theirs. Both
Stewart and McLagan play on this one along with the ‘Stones’ Mick Taylor and Keith
Richards who also squeeze onto the instrumental couch. Rough hewn and heartfelt, this song
best epitomizes the intent and vibe of the sessions.
The album then closes fittingly with a substantial six minute
jam, the Willie Weeks composition ‘Crotch Music’. The song opens on the electronic pulse of a drum machine which is soon joined by skin covered drums. Weeks is clearly the focus with his nimble
fingers plucking out a smooth lead bass line right off the bat.  What mobilizes the song is the scratchy
rhythm licks scrubbed out by Richards and Wood that develop at a dizzying and
accelerating groove. Toward the conclusion of the jam Wood comes in unannounced
and spreads a buttery phased guitar line that jumps from my speakers. This is a
tight hip thrusting jam with unique jangling changes, tight pants and interlacing guitars that cause the
ear to thumb through the song for additional surprises. A fun finale and
proper conclusion to an album where the joy ascends from the grooves with every
listen.

While Ronnie Wood is currently and famously recognized as
Keith Richards better half in the Rolling Stones, his career spans numerous
solo LP’s, his work with the Faces, as well as his early work with Jeff Beck and numerous other artists.
His innate musical talents have offered an original and recognizable aesthetic
to any creative outlet he has been involved with. His 1974 debut solo LP, I’ve Got My Own Record to Do is the cumulative effect of what he
had learned, observed and created from his earliest days in rock and roll. The
album is the result of Woody reaching a creative peak, his ambition to be recognized
on his own merits and the karmic payback from all of the musicians he befriended and
worked with throughout his career. The album is SO deserving of a deluxe edition
with plenty of outtakes and bonus tracks we can only hope it happens in the future. The ‘rock
room’ wants to spearhead this movement! But in the meantime throw the original
LP on the platter, it’s all we got, but it sure is quite enough.

I’ve Got My Own Record to Do (Entire)

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